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This was first published Bar & Bench on March 28, 2018.
Congress leaders in the Rajya Sabha yesterday sparked a furore when it was revealed that a motion had been prepared to initiate impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
Sources indicate that 23 MPs have signed the petition. Speaking to Bar & Bench NCP MP Majeed Memon said that “all the MPs of NCP has signed the petition and the copy of the petition is with the Congress”.
The controversial chain of events that took place in the Supreme Court towards the end of last year, specifically the Medical College bribery case (Prasad Educational Trust) seems to be root cause for this impeachment motion.
Other allegations include that he had acquired land by producing a false affidavit, and that he had abused his administrative authority as master of the Supreme Court roster.
As per the impeachment motion, the following five charges have been levelled against Chief Justice Misra:
As regards the first charge, the way Chief Justice Dipak Misra dealt with the Prasad Educational Trust case has been criticised.
Secondly, the MPs have brought to light the manner in which he dealt with petitions filed by Kamini Jaiswal and CJAR, calling for an investigation into the medical college bribery case in relation to which former High Court judge Justice IM Quddusi was arrested by the CBI. This, the MPs claim, is a violation of the Code of Conduct of Judges formulated in 1997, which states,
“Justice must not merely be done but it must also be seen to be done. The behaviour and conduct of members of the higher judiciary must reaffirm the people’s faith in the impartiality of the judiciary. Accordingly, any act of a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court, whether in official or personal capacity, which erodes the credibility of this perception has to be avoided.”
The third charge alludes to the improper manner in which a note from the Registry was “antedated”, amounting to “fabrication”. After Justice J Chelameswar agreed to hear the Kamini Jaiswal petition on November 9, a note from the Registry was taken on record.
The letter initially bore the date of November 6, and was later changed to November 9, raising a few eyebrows. In light of these facts, the MPs have asked,
“If there were already pre exisiting orders of the Chief Justice of India on this issue, what was the occasion of the Chief Justice to call for, and for the registrar to put up a fresh note on the 6th of November 2017?
If this note was indeed issued on 6th November 2017, why was it not communicated to Court No. 2 which has to hear the urgent mentionings while the Chief Justice of India was sitting in the Constitution Bench? Why was it only communicated in a hurry while the hearing of Mrs Kamini Jaiswal’s petition was in progress?”
As regards the issue of land allotment, the motion notes that the Orissa High Court had ordered a CBI investigation into “this case and other similar illegal land allotments”. However, the motion notes, the PIL calling for the same has been pending in the High Court for years.
The final charge alleges that Chief Justice Dipak Misra has abused his power as master of the roster.
“Though the Chief Justice of India is the master of roster and has the administrative authority to determine benches to hear cases, it does not mean that such power can be exercised in an arbitrary or malafide manner…
In a stark departure from this practice and raising questions about the Chief Justice of India’s accountability, there have been various instances where Chief Justice Dipak Misra has abused his authority as master of roster and exercised this power in a mala fide and arbitrary manner.”
The preparing of the motion is only the first step in a long process; it remains to be seen whether the MPs will get the requisite number of signatures to actually set things in motion.
Read the draft impeachment motion that is being circulated:
Here are the stories relating to this case