Two Congress Parliamentarians from Rajya Sabha- Pratap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajnik, on Monday, approached the Supreme Court challenging Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu's dismissal of the impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra.
Both the Congress MPs claimed in their petition that once the initiation of removal motion is signed by the requisite number of MPs, the Vice-President has no option but shall constitute an Inquiry Committee to investigate the allegations against the CJI Dipak Misra.
Senior lawyers and politicians Kapil Sibbal and Prashant Bhushan, who are representing the two Congress MPs in the matter, have requested that the matter be heard by a bench headed by Justice Chelameswar.
In a major blow to the Congress-led Opposition, on April 24, Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu had turned down the impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra on the ground that there was lack of "credible and verifiable" information on charges of "misbehaviour" which, he said, undermined judiciary's independence.
Naidu’s decision met with strong criticism from the Opposition, with the former Law Minister Kapil Sibal terming it as illegal and unconstitutional done in a "tearing hurry". He said the order will be challenged in the Supreme Court.
"It is illegal because the chairman has passed an order which is required to be passed after a full-fledged inquiry," Sibal said, adding that the Rajya Sabha chairman had to only ascertain whether the motion was in order.
Substantiating his argument, Sibal said that once the motion is admitted, then under the Judges (Inquiry) Act of 1968, the motion is sent to a panel of three - a sitting chief justice of a high court, a judge of the Supreme Court and a legal luminary, and added that did not happen in this case.
He also termed the upper house chairman's decision as "ill-advised", saying that he should have consulted the judges in the collegium taking a call on the privilege motion.
"It is ill-advised because the procedure requires him to consult CJI before he admits the motion. Now that he cannot consult CJI obviously (in this case), he should have consulted other members of the collegium. But he has chosen not to do that," Sibal said.
He further said some of the allegations mentioned in the motion relate to what is happening in court, so Naidu should have consulted other judges.
He wondered what the hurry was to reject the motion which had the valid signatures of 64 MPs.
"I do not think momentous matters like this should be disposed of in this fashion. Remember, it is our privilege to move the motion. You cannot boot the privilege in this fashion," he said.
The order had shattered the confidence of the people and jeopardised the legal system, he added.
"It seems that the government is very keen that this (charge made in the petition) must not be allowed to be inquired into. Maybe they have information that the CBI has information, maybe by scuttling the inquiry they don't want a lot of information to come on record. It puts the judicial system into jeopardy," he said.
The order destroys the legitimate processes of the law. It seeks to ensure that no inquiry takes place, he added.
"We will certainly move the petition in the Supreme Court. We are confident that when we move the petition, the CJI will have nothing to do with it so that it is heard and the serious issues, which are constitutional in nature and which will determine whether we bring transparency to the system, would be heard in the court, Sibal said.