The impeachment plea against the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra took an interesting turn in the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning when two Congress MPs withdrew their plea challenging rejection of the impeachment notice by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu. However, when the bench showed reluctance to accept his arguments and submissions, the senior advocate chose to withdraw the petition.
As many as 64 members of the Rajya Sabha, belonging to seven political parties, signed the notice for impeachment proceedings against the CJI.
Bajwa and Yajnik, who are Congress MPs in the Rajya Sabha, moved the Supreme Court on Monday, challenging the decision of Naidu, who is also chairman of the upper house of Parliament, to dismiss the notice submitted by the opposition MPs. Justices Bobde and Ramana are both in line for the post of Chief Justice.
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When the matter came up for hearing, Kapil Sibal appearing for the petitioners withdrew the petitions. Asserting that every order, issued by any authority, small or big, can be challenged in the court, Sibal said, "Will the dignity of the court be jeopardised if you give me that (administrative) order (constituting the 5-judge Bench)". Petitioners are entitled to know who passed the order. "I must have the copy of the order so that I can challenge it". "There is no judicial order, so who on the administrative side passed the order to refer the case to the five judges?"
"We wanted to know who passed the order that our petition would be heard by a five-judge bench. If it feels so, then this will be the only authority under the Constitution whose administrative order can not be challenged in a court of law". Sibal expressed his surprise that the present bench was constituted without such a judicial order.
Sibal also referred to his exchange with attorney-general K.K. Venugopal, who was representing Naidu, in court. Sibal had then mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar, the senior-most after CJI Misra.
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Besides challenging the Chairman's decision, the petition also assails Section 3 (1) of the Judges Inquiry Act that vests discretion in him to reject a notice for removal of a judge. He argued that this might be the first instance of a matter going before a Constitution Bench by way of an administrative order. "It will lead us nowhere", Justice Sikri said, while responding to Sibal's plea to share the order setting up the bench, and asked him to argue on the merits of the petitions. The primary intent has always been to "uphold the dignity of the institution". By holding this charge as untenable, the order goes into an impermissible arena of quasi-judicial determination of the charge which is impermissible and illegal, they added. The two MPs had claimed in the petition that the reasons given for rejection were "wholly extraneous".
The bench was hearing the matter in which it had recently stayed the Kerala government's ordinance which sought to protect certain medical admissions that were set aside.
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