Chief Justice Dipak Mishra (64) is facing impeachment motion initiated by opposition parties of India led by CPI Sitaram Yechury who is trying to garner support of congress and Samajwadi Party etc.
Judges Enquiry Act 1968 which regulates the procedure of removal of Judges of Supreme Court via process of impeachment lays down some grounds on which a judge can be impeached. A signed motion of 100 members of Loksabha or 50 members of Rajyasabha has to be presented to Speaker or Chairman respectively. It is on discretion of speaker/ chairman to admit the motion or refuse it.
The independence of judiciary is protected by the constitution and removal of judges can only be on the grounds of misbehaviour or incapacity(loss of mind). The charges against the accused judge has to be proved in front of a committee consisting of a chief judge of Supreme court ( Senior Judge if chief justice is in question), a chief justice of High court and a distinguished jurist.
If the committee finds the judge guilty then the motion has to pass each house by special majority, that is majority of total membership of house and majority of two third of member of house present and voting. the motion after clearing the house has to be sent to president in same session for due process of removal of Judge.
The impeachment motion of Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra inspires from the famous press conference of January 2018 in which four senior judges of supreme court Justice Chelameswar, Justice Gogoi, Justice Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph addressed the press conference first of its kind and levelled some accusation against Chief Justice Dipak Mishra.
If we look at the allegation made by the judges which is the basis of the charges against chief justice nothing amounts to misbehaviour or incapacity which are the grounds for impeachment.
The allegation of abuse of authority for assigning the cases and sending the controversial cases to desired bench were addressed when chief justice came up with new roster system.
The case of Judge Loya and Sohrabuddin encounter case is also said to be the reason of the motion. In both the cases chief justice was charged with allegation of bench fixing to particular judge for desired result. One cannot assume that the judge to whom these cases were assigned are corrupt until proven without doubt.
If we look at both the cases these cases are political in nature and draws large media reaction and often used by opposition to target the government. Just these cases were assigned to different bench that does not amount to any wrong doing.
Taking action on political issues does put a target on the back of judiciary but it does not qualify for calling for an impeachment of judge. If we look at working of judiciary in past few years all the chief justice took charge in solving some political issues. Justice Thakur issued a landmark judgement in BCCI case and was critical of government on appointment of judges, Justice Kehar gave priority to cases like Triple Talak, What’s app case. Justice Mishra since taking oath as chief justice tried to resolve the issues like Delhi government case, Aadhar Act, Babri Majid case, and issued notice on polygamy etc.
Most of these cases are tried by the Mp lawyer who are now in opposition parties. They try to align the cases in such a way that favours their own party agenda. Kabil sibbal even went on to ask CJI to defer the Babri Majid case till 2019 election. Bar council has recently asked Kapil Sibbal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Vivek Tankha to abstain from appearing in Chief Justice’s court. The bar council move was opposed by all three of them.
If we can’t put aside Judiciary from politics then this is going to set a very dangerous precedent that if a lawyer MP does not like the verdict given by justice they can start an impeachment motion in parliament to pressurize the judiciary.
The basis of the case against CJI should be beyond reasonable doubt and opposition should ensure the charges are not inspired by political vendetta. If the opposition is trying to impeach chief justice on the basis of the charges levied during press conference of january 2018 by senior 4 judges then they are lacking a strong case against chief justice. Those charges does not qualify for impeachment and if they proceed with these charges which has to undergo the scrutiny of the committee appointed by speaker/chairman which is responsible for framing charges and submitting the report.
There was a failed attempt to impeach justice V Ramaswami of Supreme Court (1991-1993) in which he was found guilty by the committee but the impeachment motion was defeated in-house.
So if the opposition can’t prove those serious allegation against chief justice , this attempt may bring a serious dent on Judicial System of the country which is the most pivotal institution of democracy.