Written byGogona Saikia
In January, in an unprecedented move, the four senior-most judges of the SC went public with a series of complaints against Chief Justice (CJI) Dipak Misra.
Another first-of-its-kind event has followed: the opposition has now started an impeachment motion against Misra.
The Congress, leading the signature drive, has the support of NCP, CPI(M) and possibly the TMC.
What will such a motion mean?
Two months ago, Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan Lokur called a press conference and alleged the SC's freedom and integrity have been thrown into uncertainty.
Among other allegations, they accused Misra of abusing his position of power to assign important cases to select judges.
"Let the nation decide" if Misra should be impeached, they added.
Yesterday, after much discussion, the Congress formally started collecting signatures for an impeachment motion against Misra.
The motion accuses Misra of not acting on the complaints of the four judges, conspiring in the illegal licensing of a private medical college, acquiring land illegally when he was a practicing lawyer, and damaging the credibility of the SC's institutional autonomy, among others.
To move an impeachment motion, the Congress needs at least 50 signatures in the Rajya Sabha, easily manageable by the opposition which dominates the Upper House.
Congress leaders have already approached NCP, Samajwadi, DMK, CPI(M) and Trinamool, most of which have reportedly assured support.
Sources said the motion is expected to be submitted to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu this week itself.
The first uncertainty is if the motion will be admitted by the Houses.
It then needs to be passed by two-thirds of half the strength of either House. The opposition doesn't have the numbers.
Moreover, investigation of accusations can take over a year; Misra retires in 2018.
The motion isn't likely to affect Misra, but the opposition hopes to initiate discussion on the issues.
If the motion passes, Misra will be the first CJI to face impeachment.
The first SC judge against whom proceedings were initiated was V. Ramaswami (1993), but it lacked requisite support.
Justices Soumitra Sen (Calcutta-HC, 2011) and PD Dinakaran (Sikkim-HC, 2011) resigned before the proceedings started.
A motion was moved against Justice JB Pardiwala (Gujarat-HC, 2015), but then he corrected the issue of contention.
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