03 Apr 2018
Will-it, won't-it? Opposition holds impeachment-motion against CJI despite having numbers
Written byGogona Saikia
An impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra seems to have lost momentum, with many opposition parties still undecided.
Though Congress has reportedly secured around 65 signatures, 15 more than needed to file the motion in the Rajya Sabha, several of those become invalid today as the MPs retire.
The current session ends in three days, and the opposition is moving on a tight deadline.
More about the impeachment motion
The impeachment motion started by the Congress is based mainly on allegations made by four top SC judges against Misra.
Among others, they accused him of abusing his position of power.
The motion says he's not acting on the complaints of the judges, conspiring in the illegal licensing of a private medical college, damaging the credibility of the SC's institutional autonomy, and others.
Congress has required numbers, but missing support of important parties
Till now, Congress has received support from NCP, BSP, Samajwadi and CPI(M), more than the minimum-50 needed.
However, important regional parties like DMK, Trinamool and BJD have stayed away. Most say they're still discussing.
But many are confused why Congress is waiting despite having the numbers. "We don't know what's holding them back," NCP's Majeed Memon said.
Apparently, Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi wants a "larger consensus."
'Motives to impeach a judge must never be political'
The process to impeach a judge is constitutional . The motives to impeach him must never be political . A fearless judiciary our only hope .— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) April 2, 2018
Can the impeachment motion actually change things?
If the opposition moves the motion, the first uncertainty is if it'll be admitted by the heads of both 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 or his work.
What next if the motion fails to be admitted?
But Congress is already prepared. There are reports it is mulling moving the Supreme Court for Misra's impeachment if its motion is rejected.
Under Article 105 of the Constitution, the judiciary is barred from interfering in proceedings of legislatures, but experts say rejection of a motion by the Rajya Sabha chairman falls under "administrative action," so can be challenged in court.
Judges who have faced impeachment motion till now
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.