Impeachment: Six reasons cited for rejecting the motion
The Rajya Sabha chairman, who rejected the motion in record time, cites six main reasons for rejecting the petition
Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu took less than a day after his return to the National Capital to reject the motion for impeachment of the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra.
In his 10-page order he claimed to have consulted “legal luminaries, constitutional experts, former Secretary-Generals of both the Houses, former law officers, Law Commission members and eminent jurists” besides the present Attorney General and several ‘Editors’. With several of them, he states in the order, he had detailed ‘personal conversations’. He also hints that his decision may have been influenced by the editorials in newspapers.
Naidu, who returned to New Delhi on Sunday, after cutting short his tour to Telangana, began consultations immediately after he arrived in the capital. But even then, a few expected him to reject the motion on Monday itself. On all earlier occasions, the presiding officers took a fortnight or more before accepting or rejecting the motion.
Explaining reasons for rejecting the motion, the Vice President’s order states the following:
1. Third-party and unsubstantiated conversations (wire tapped phone conversations allegedly submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation to the court and mentioned in the FIR related to the Prasad Education Trust) cannot be relied on to accept ‘proved misbehaviour’.
2. Even if every statement in the petition is believed to be true, they would still not amount to “proven misbehaviour”.
3. A Supreme Court judgment in 1993 had enjoined upon the presiding officers to be careful, cautious, circumspect and responsible in weighing the petition.
4. The same SC judgment stated that the presiding officers should look at the larger interest of the administration of justice and the seriousness of the imputations besides the nature and quality of the record.
5. The petition itself says that the CJI ‘may’ have been involved or ‘likely’ to come under investigation and ‘appears’ to have ante-dated’ an administrative order. The use of ‘may, likely and appears’ indicate that even the petitioners are sure of the charges they had levelled.
6. A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court (ironically, presided over by the CJI Dipak Misra), the order cites, had ruled that the Chief Justice of India is the Master of the Roster and had unbridled power to fix benches.
For good measure the Chairman also cites the Handbook of the Rajya Sabha, which lays down that once a petition is moved before the Chairman, the content of such petition cannot be publicised till the chairman takes a decision. Since the signatories to the petition held a press conference last week and publicised the charges against the CJI, Naidu ruled, he was rejecting the petition.