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CJI Dipak Misra impeachment: The 5-judge SC Constitution Bench dismisses Congress MPs' plea

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 08, May 2018, 12:44 pm IST | UPDATED: 08, May 2018, 13:08 pm IST

CJI Dipak Misra impeachment: The 5-judge SC Constitution Bench dismisses Congress MPs' plea New Delhi: The five-member Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed as withdrawn the petition of two Congress members of Parliament challenging the decision of Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, also the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, to reject the Opposition’s notice for an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra.

According to Live Law on Twitter, the Constitution bench reserved the judgment on the powers of the 'master of roster', said Justice A K Sikri, the head of the five-judge Bench. “We do not have any doubt that the CJI is the master of the roster. But if the master of the roster exercises the power the way he wants, then the question arises, what should we do,” Sikri further added.

Senior Congress leader and advocate Kapil Sibal, appear for the petitioners, quoted S.145(3) of the Constitution and said a matter could be referred to the Constitution Bench by a reference order. “We want to know which Bench made the reference to Constitution Bench. Sibal read 145(3) where the court hearing an appeal consists of less than 5 judges and in the course of the hearing of the appeal the court is satisfied that the appeal involves a substantial question of law,” Live Law quoted Sibal as having said. “If you are not giving the order of constitution of Bench, how can I proceed, I am withdrawing the petition,” said Kapil Sibal.

Responding to the court developments, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy said Kapil Sibal and the Congress had a habit of punishing themselves. “This was always going to be the case," he said.

A five-judge Supreme Court Bench was hearing the petition of two Congress members of Parliament challenging the decision of M Venkaiah Naidu, Vice-President of India and chairman of the Rajya Sabha, to reject the Opposition's notice for an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. While Justice Chelameswar, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court was present during the hearing -- Senior Congress leader and advocate Kapil Sibal had requested for his presence on Monday -- Attorney General K K Venugopal was reportedly present in the courtroom during the Constitution Bench hearing, instead of the Cauvery water dispute, according to an India Today report.

Two Rajya Sabha members of the Congress party on Monday had moved the Supreme Court challenging the rejection of their impeachment notice against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, a five-judge Bench comprising Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and A K Goel will on Tuesday hear their petition. The MPs have questioned Upper House Chairman and Vice-President of India M Venkaiah Naidu's decision to reject the party's notice for an impeachment motion against the CJI.

The Bar Association of India, a voluntary organisation of lawyers stated that "the notice for the impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was "unwarranted" and an assault on the judiciary".

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, also one of the signatories of the impeachment notice, mentioned the petition filed by two Members of Parliament -- Partap Singh Bajwa and Amee Yajnik -- for an urgent listing before a Bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar. Sibal said Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu could 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".

The SC Bench asked Sibal and advocate Prashant Bhushan to mention the matter before the Chief Justice of India for an urgent listing by citing a constitution Bench judgment on the powers of a "master of roster".

Impeachment notice's rejection raised "serious constitutional issues" and involved interpretation of constitutional provisions, said Sibal.

Here are the latest updates around Congress MPs' petition challenging Venkaiah Naidu's rejection of a notice for impeachment of CJI Dipak Misra and the five-member SC Bench that will be hearing the plea:

1. SC dismisses impeachment petition: the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the petitions of two Rajya Sabha Congress Parliamentarians Pratap Singh Bajwa & Amee Harshadray Yajnik as withdrawn. Congress leader Kapil Sibal who appeared for the lawmakers, withdrew the petition after the Supreme Court refused to share the administrative order by which the five-judge Constitution Bench was formed. They had approached the Supreme Court challenging Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu's rejection of the impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra. The SC bench was headed by Justice A K Sikri, number six in seniority. The other members were Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and A K Goel, who are next in the sequence of seniority.

The plea by two Rajya Sabha members - Pratap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajnik - was included in the supplementary list issued by the apex court's Registry yesterday evening.

In the petition filed by the two Congress MPs claimed that the reasons to reject the notice against the CJI given were "wholly extraneous" and not legally tenable.

2. This was always going to be the case: After the dismissal of the impeachment petition by the Supreme Court, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy said Kapil Sibal and the Congress had a habit of punishing themselves. “This was always going to be the case," he said.

3. SC judges who addressed the press against CJI Misra on January 12 not part of the Bench: It is significant that the matter were not listed before the judges who are number two to five in seniority. These senior-most judges -- J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Jospeh -- who had held an unprecedented and controversial press conference on January 12 and accused the CJI Dipak Misra for allocating important cases to the "select branches", were kept out of the hearing of the matter.

4. 'Notice to impeach CJI Dipak Misra unwarranted': The notice for impeachment of the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was "unwarranted" and an assault on the judiciary, the Bar Association of India (BAI) said. Emphasising on the need to bring transparency in the judiciary, the laywers' body passed a resolution to improve judicial governance in the backdrop of the public scrutiny faced by Supreme Court judges.

The BAI executive committee believes that the motion for impeachment of the Chief Justice of India, considering the facts and circumstances, was unwarranted, and was an assault on the institution of Indian judiciary," BAI President Lalit Bhasin said in a press release on Monday, reported PTI.

The resolution said Supreme Court judges should collectively establish an institutional structure for the internal governance of judiciary.

The bar association recommends that the equal participation of the Supreme Court and its judges will be essential to create an institutional mechanism that streamlines the judiciary's governance.

5. SC puts end to practice of mentioning cases before CJI: The Supreme Court has put an end to the practice of lawyers mentioning urgent matters before the Chief Justice of India. The apex court clarified saying that now onwards, such cases could only be mentioned before the apex court's Registrar for urgent hearing. The court asked Advocates-On-Record and junior lawyers to mention the matters for urgent hearing before the Registrar who will hear the plea for urgent listing and would take a call. The apex court, however, informed that the lawyers can approach the CJI if they are aggrieved by the order of the Registrar on listing of the case for urgent hearing.

6. 'Impeachment notice rejection well-reasoned': BJP leader and senior advocate Aman Singh on Monday said there was no legal ground to challenge the decision of the Rajya Sabha Chairman rejecting the impeachment notice against Chief Justice Dipak Misra. The decision was well-reasoned and it dealt with each and every ground mentioned in the impeachment notice, he said reacting to Congress MPs moving the Supreme Court to challenge the rejection of the impeachment notice against the CJI. According to a report in PTI, advocate Meenakshi Lekhi also said that the filing of plea in the apex court was a "deceptive methodology" of the Congress party to remain in the news.

Sinha further said Naidu had come to a conclusion after intense deliberation with top legal and constitutional experts and that the notice for impeachment was completely legally not capable of being kept in proper or good condition.

7. 'Congress faces suicidal future if it moves SC on CJI impeachment': The Congress Party could be facing a "suicidal future" if they went ahead and legally challenged Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu's decision not to entertain an impeachment motion against Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday in a Facebook post. The power to admit or to decline a motion is part of the legislative process of Parliament, Jaitley further expressed.

8. Chief Justice of India is the "master of roster": Attorney General K K Venugopal on Friday told the Supreme Court that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is the "master of roster" and he has full power to allocate cases and to maintain discipline. Venugopal told a bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan that vesting case allocation with multi-member collegium instead of the Chief Justice would create multiple authority and result in "conflict and chaos", reported IANS.

9. SC to hear in July the plea to restrain MPs making statements on judges' removal: The Supreme Court said that it would hear in July a plea seeking to restrain members of Parliament (MPs) from making public statements on the removal of a judge of the higher judiciary without there being any such notice in Parliament. A SC bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan observed that Rajya Sabha Rules also prohibits such statements by Parliamentarians without there being any such notice in the House.

Article 124(4) and (5) deals with the procedure to be followed for removal of an apex court judge.

10. Impeachment notice against CJI wrong, says Mamata: The Congress was wrong in giving an impeachment notice against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The Trinamoool Congress (TMC) did not support the impeachment move, she said. "The Congress was wrong to give impeachment notice against the CJI. The Congress wanted us to support it. But we did not," she told "News 18 Bangla" channel. "I told Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi not to go for impeachment," Banerjee said, adding that her party did not want to interfere in the judiciary, reported PTI.
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