Chief Justice Dipak Misra. Photo: Wikicommons
Chief Justice Dipak Misra. Photo: Wikicommons

In an historical move, opposition leaders led by Ghulam Nabi Azad have submitted a notice for impeachment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on Friday to Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, who is also chairman of the upper house of Parliament.

About 64 parliamentarians from around seven political parties signed the notice for proceedings against the Chief Justice. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal held a press conference and listed five grounds for filing for the impeachment.

He said the move followed the January 12 press conference by four senior judges of the Supreme Court who first raised questions about misconduct by the Chief Justice.

“Since CJI Dipak Mishra came, questions have been raised about his conduct. It showed in the January 12 press conference of four judges of the Supreme Court. One concern of the four judges was memorandum of procedure was being unsettled,” said Sibal.

“When the judges of the Supreme Court themselves believe that the judiciary’s independence is at threat, alluding to the functioning of the office of the CJI, should the nation stand still and do nothing?”

Under the Constitution of India, the minimum requirement to file a motion for impeachment is 50 members of parliament. “We have submitted a motion signed by 71 members of parliament. We have also given in writing that there are seven signatures of honorable members who in the meanwhile have retired,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said during the press conference.

“So we said in the letter that those seven members should not be counted. I am sure that the minimum requirement for the motion to be entertained has been met and sure that the chairman will take action.”

The impeachment move came one day after the bench headed by Chief Justice Misra dismissed all petitions demanding an independent probe into the death of special CBI judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, who was conducting a trial in the controversial Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in which Amit Shah, now the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was one of the accused.

This move was highly criticized by Congress, which deemed it a “sad letter day.” However, both Sibal and Azad dismissed the criticism, saying the article of charge made no mention of Justice Loya’s case.

“I had categorically said that we had sort this appointment a week back and that can be verified from the Chairman’s office. Also, the signatures were collected when the parliament was in session. The initiation of the whole process started 20 days to a month back,” Azad said.

This is the first time in the country’s history that such a step has been taken. “We wish this day has never come,” said Congress leader Sibal.

Earlier on Friday the Supreme Court termed the impeachment move as very unfortunate. “We are all very disturbed about it,” a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said after the counsel appearing for the petitioner raised the issue of politicians making public statements on the impeachment of judges.

The court sought the intervention of Attorney General K.K. Venugopal to deal with the plea and to stop the media from reporting such statements.