Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu reacted to the controversy surrounding his decision to reject a notice seeking impeachment of Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
Naidu defended his decision by saying that the Rajya Sabha Chairman's office was not a mere post office but a constitutional functionary and such decisions cannot be hasty. He also said the decision on the Notice of Motion for Removal of Chief Justice of India given on Monday came after over a month of due diligence and in strict conformity with the provisions of the Constitution and the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968.
"Freedom of expression allows that but ultimately truth prevails. I have done the just thing in the best possible manner expected of me," PTI sources quoted Naidu as saying, a day after he rejected the impeachment motion.
Naidu said the Chief Justice of India is the highest judicial functionary of the country and "any issue in public domain concerning him requires to be resolved at the earliest following prescribed procedures so as to prevent the atmosphere from being further vitiated".
On Monday, Naidu refused to admit the impeachment motion against the CJI citing 'no proof of misconduct' by him as alleged by the Opposition parties. According to PTI sources, Naidu held deliberations with a number of constitutional and legal experts, including Attorney General KK Venugopal.
The notice signed by 64 Rajya Sabha MPs of seven parties was submitted to Naidu for deliberations to impeach the CJI. The move, however, failed to convince several from among the Opposition.
Congress leaders like Manmohan Singh, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Manish Tewari and Salman Khurshid refrained from signing the notice. Opposition parties like DMK, RJD and TMC, who are usually part of efforts to rally up a united Opposition, also did not sign the notice to impeach CJI Misra. Eminent jurists and legal experts like Justice (retired) Fali S Nariman and Soli Sorabjee opined that the Chairman came to the conclusion after due application of mind and agreed to Naidu's decision.
Former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, however, said that Naidu acted in haste while rejecting the impeachment notice against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. "This instance has set a bad precedence, which is not good for democracy," he told PTI.
The Congress party termed the rejection "illegal, hasty, and unprecedented" arguing that Naidu in his capacity as the Chairman of Rajya Sabha was not expected to decide on the merit of proofs and evidence as a quasi-judicial body. The part said that Naidu should have established the veracity of signatures and ensured that the notice meets the requisite constitutional norms and should have admitted it. The party also said that it would challenge the "illegal" order in the Supreme Court. The Left also criticised Naidu with CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury saying his order showed "a certain degree of non-application of mind" as he did not follow laid-down rules.
The BJP, however, "thanked" him for warding off an "act of blasphemy" towards the Constitution.
The rejection of notice for the impeachment of CJI at the preliminary stage itself had a precedent nearly five decades ago when a Supreme Court judge faced such a bid for the first time. An impeachment motion against Justice JC Shah was submitted to Lok Sabha speaker GS Dhillon in May 1970 following a campaign by a former government servant, OP Gupta, charging Shah with dishonesty after the judge made certain remarks about him during a hearing. The notice was, however, turned down by the Speaker after terming it "frivolous".
Besides rejection of such notice against CJI Misra and Justice Shah at the preliminary stage, there was another such case when 58 Rajya Sabha MPs had moved a petition before the Chairman and former Vice-President Hamid Ansari against Gujarat High Court judge Justice JB Pardiwala in 2015 for his alleged "unconstitutional" remarks against reservation. However, Justice Pardiwal expunged the controversial remarks from the order and the impeachment proceedings were henceforth aborted.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Apr 24, 2018 18:01:17 IST