Congress-led Opposition errs in its timing for impeachment motion against chief justice
A divided Opposition finally put its indecision behind and sought the impeachment of Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra. The timing of the move, however, will be a big impediment in its success.
Leaders from Indidan National Congress and six other opposition parties met Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu Friday morning to seek an impeachment motion against him. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal told reporters that in the motion, five charges of “misbehaviour” have been levelled against the CJI.
Three of these charges are connected with the medical college bribery scam, in which officials of Prasad Education Trust allegedly planned to bribe senior functionaries of the Supreme Court as well as the Allahabad High Court to secure “favourable orders”.
The fourth charge relates to the CJI “having acquired land when he was an Advocate by giving an affidavit that was later found to be false”. It has also been alleged that Misra didn't surrender this land until his elevation to the apex court in 2012, despite the allotment having been cancelled in 1985.
The final charge is about “abuse of exercise of power” by the CJI by “choosing to send” sensitive matters to particular benches only.
The Opposition first mooted the impeachment proposal in January after the unprecedented press conference by the CJI's four brother judges, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
However, there was no unanimity over the proposal among not just the larger opposition but even within Congress. In fact, some reports suggested that no less than former prime minister Manmohan Singh was opposed to the proposal.
Eventually, Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, authoritatively said earlier this month that the issue was closed now.
The sudden revival of the impeachment campaign has created the impression that it has been prompted by the Supreme Court's rejection of the appeal for ordering a probe behind the death of CBI special judge BH Loya.
Sibal and Azad dismissed this contention and said they had approached Naidu's office for an appointment about a week ago. Azad added that the signatures of 70 MPs had been collected when the Parliament was still in session. Six of them have now retired.
However, it will be hard for the Congress to dispel this speculation and that will mar the prospects of this campaign. When the Opposition had first picked this issue up, the presser by the judges had already created an impression that something was amiss in the top court under Misra.
However, the three-month dilly-dallying in taking the final call has cost the campaign dear. If this move fails, the Opposition will be forced to eat crow and the BJP will get another stick to beat the Opposition with.