SC moved against rejection of CJI impeachment notice

SC moved against rejection of CJI impeachment notice

In a first, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday a petition by two Congress MPs challenging the dismissal of removal motion against the Chief Justice of India by the Rajya Sabha Chairman on April 23.

The petitioners contended that Naidu's decision to reject the notice is "ex facie illegal, arbitrary, and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution" that guarantees equality before law. These judges - Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M.B. Lokur and Kurian Jospeh - had held the controversial January 12 press conference in which they talked about the issues plaguing the apex court, triggered by issues surrounding a case on the death of special CBI Judge B.H. Loya and the roster of justices at the Supreme Court. This in itself, the petition claims, renders Naidu's order untenable. "It deserves to be set aside for being wholly extraneous and ultra vires to the provisions of the Constitution of India and the Inquiry Act", the petition filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes said.

"In the absence of a full-fledged inquiry, it is not possible to return any findings on the same".

Making his submissions, Sibal said that the Rajya Sabha chairman can not summarily reject the notice bearing signatures of 64 MPs and seven former members who had recently retired, on the ground that there was "no proved misbehaviour", as per PTI. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu could constitute a committee to look into the issue.

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64 lawmakers from seven Opposition parties - including the Congress - submitted the impeachment motion to Vice-President (and Rajya Sabha chairman) Venkaiah Naidu last month. He states that there was no substantial merit in it.

He said the CJI can not order for listing, therefore the senior-most judge of this court must pass some orders as it was a matter of constitutional importance.According to Sibal, this type of situation had not arisen before and the court should pass an order on who would deal with the matter and how it would be dealt with.

But this was opposed by the petitioners saying that since the case was against the CJI himself, it was to be listed before the second senior-most judge of the court which in the present case is Justice Chelameswar. "A person maynot be considered a judge in his own cause", he explained.

The petition was made in the court of Justice Chelameswar, but as master of the roster, CJI has picked justices Bobde, Sikri, Ramana, Mishra and Goel to hear it. "It involves interpretation of pertinent constitutional provisions", Sibal told Justice Chelameswar. "All I am asking Justice Chelameswar to consider this", Sibal said. He said the CJI can not order for listing and hence the senior-most judge of the court must pass some orders as it was a matter of constitutional importance. "If a matter can not be mentioned before the CJI then it is supposed to be heard here".

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