A judicial quagmire
Congress along with six other opposition parties submitted a note to the Vice President of India and Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha M Venkaiah Naidu seeking to impeach Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra. This has come immediately after a Supreme Court ruling in the Judge BH Loya's death case. The Supreme Court has ruled that all the petitions filed in the judge Loya's death case are politically motivated. It also chided the petitioners for wasting the court's precious time. The petitioners had told the court that judge Loya's death in a guest house in Nagpur was not natural and it should be investigated. Judge Loya was hearing the Sohrabuddin encounter case in which BJP President Amit Shah was one of the accused. Subsequently, Amit Shah has been given a clean chit by the court. Following the court verdict dismissing the Judge Loya death case, BJP leaders said their stand has been vindicated. Congress and some of the opposition parties criticised the court verdict and the very next day they brought up impeachment move against the Chief Justice of India. After handing over the impeachment notice to Naidu, the Congress held a press conference and informed about the development. The impeachment notice has been signed by the Members of Parliament of the Congress, NCP, CPI, CPM, SP, BSP, and the Muslim League.
It is a long process to impeach the CJI. After the notice has been handed over with the signature of more than 50 MPs, the Rajya Sabha Chairperson will examine the claims and decide whether he wants to proceed with the impeachment process or not. If he decides to move ahead with the impeachment process, he will constitute a three-member panel to investigate the charges against the CJI. After the report is ready, the house will hear the CJI defending himself in the house. After this, there would be a vote in both the houses of Parliament. If the impeachment motion is passed by 3/4th members of both the houses, the CJI can be impeached. But looking at the numbers, it does not seem feasible that an impeachment motion can get through in both the houses of Parliament. The Rajya Sabha Chairperson can also decide not to move ahead with the impeachment motion if he is convinced that the move has no sufficient basis.
As it is clear from the seat tally in the two houses of the Parliament that the impeachment motion is unlikely to be passed, one may wonder why some opposition parties have brought the move in the first place. These opposition parties were expecting some ammunition from the Judge BH Loya death case, but the Supreme Court dismissed the case and also pointed out that all the petitions filed in the courts seeking reinvestigation into the case are politically motivated. A separate bench of the Supreme Court has also expressed concern over the manner in which the issue of impeachment is being discussed openly in the media and the country at large. It brings bad publicity for the courts even before the impeachment motion has been accepted by the Rajya Sabha chairperson.
Congress and only six opposition parties have signed the notice seeking the impeachment of the CJI. Earlier, the Congress had said that there are about 12 opposition parties who are ready to sign the notice. It has also come to light that the notice was signed much in advance and the opposition parties were only waiting for the right time to press ahead with the impeachment notice. What is, however, more important is that TMC and DMK, which have been part of the larger opposition unity drive, did not sign the notice. This shows clearly that the impeachment motion has not found full favour even in the opposition camp and some parties have decided to stay away from the exercise. Congress has been flayed for hurting judiciary for a political cause. The party is being accused of deriving political mileage at the cost of the judiciary. A section of the legal fraternity has also cautioned the political parties against defaming the judiciary. They cited the extradition efforts being made for people like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, and Vijay Mallya, stating that if the judiciary is defamed, the foreign courts may not extradite these fugitives on the grounds that the Indian courts are not independent.