Vice President and Chairman of Rajya Sabha M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday rejected a Congress-led opposition bloc's notice for impeachment and removal of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Mishra. The Opposition parties whose MPs have signed the notice have threatened to go to the court, challenging Naidu's power to reject the impeachment motion. After submitting the notice to impeach CJI Dipak Mishra, some of the opposition parties led by Congress have further demanded that the CJI should recuse himself from hearing other cases. Earlier, Naidu had advanced his return to the capital on Sunday, cutting short his Hyderabad trip by a day. After reaching New Delhi, Naidu is said to have spoken to a number of Constitutional and Parliamentary experts on the emerging crisis. Naidu has spoken to Attorney General KK Venugopal, former Attorney General K Parasaran, former Supreme Court Judge B Sudarshan Reddy, former Law Secretary PK Malhotra, former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash Kashyap, and former Legislative Secretary Sanjay Singh. It is the first-ever time that an impeachment notice has been submitted against a Chief Justice. Congress and the opposition parties which have supported the notice seeking to impeach the CJI are being accused of damaging the reputation of the Judiciary. Congress is blamed for bringing in the motion against CJI on frivolous grounds. The Constitution states that to bring an impeachment motion against a judge or the CJI, there should be instances of proven misconduct or incapacity. The notice mentions some of the grounds on which the opposition parties have based their impeachment motion. Dipak Misra is the 45th CJI and his tenure will come to an end on October 2 this year.
Political analysts, however, maintain that the impeachment motion being brought against the CJI is a politically motivated move to intimidate the judiciary. The manner in which a Supreme Court bench headed by the CJI dismissed the petitions seeking an SIT probe into the death of CBI Judge BH Loya has irked some of the opposition parties. The court said that filing of PIL in the Judge Loya death case is a misuse of the provision of PIL. The court ruled that Judge Loya died a natural death and no further investigation is required. All the petitions filed in the case are politically motivated. BJP welcomed the Supreme Court ruling and said that the opposition was unnecessarily dragging the issue. CBI judge BH Loya was hearing the Sohrabuddin encounter case in which BJP president Amit Shah was one of the accused. His name has, however, been cleared by the court and now he stands exonerated in the case. By bringing an impeachment motion against the CJI, Congress and other opposition parties have exerted a lot of pressure on the Judiciary. The Centre seems relaxed as the recent court rulings have all gone in its favour. Recently, a special NIA court has acquitted Mecca Masjid blast accused Swami Aseemanand for want of evidence. The court judgment effectively ruled out the Hindu terror tag that some of the right-wing organisations had come to be associated with. BJP has attacked the previous UPA government and Congress for mooting the false idea of Hindu terror. Now, the opposition parties fear that the Supreme Court may expedite a verdict on Ram Janambhoomi case. The case is being heard by a bench headed by the CJI. At the moment, the court is hearing whether the case should be referred to a Constitution bench or not. By the time CJI Dipak Mishra retires on October 2, a verdict in the Ram Janambhoomi case is unlikely but the opposition parties fear that if the CJI continues to hear the cases, he may expedite the hearing and a verdict may be given before the 2019 elections. Congress leader Kapil Sibal had appealed the court not to hear the case until 2019 elections but the court dismissed his requests.
The impeachment motion being brought against the CJI is a result of the impression that the opposition parties have about the CJI. The press conference addressed by four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court in which they questioned the way the CJI was functioning is being used by the opposition parties as a fodder for different allegations. The revolt by the judges against the CJI in January this year was an unprecedented incident. Much of the opposition's blame game rests on the content of the press conference by the four judges. The judges had warned that a growing bonhomie between the Judiciary and the Executive is dangerous for the democracy in the country. The current opposition onslaught on the CJI stems from the same revolting judges' contentions.