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Venkaiah Naidu rejects impeachment notice against CJI

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Opposition MPs are "unsure of their own case," says the Vice-President's order.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday rejected the Opposition’s impeachment notice against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra.

Case based on "suspicion and conjectures"

In his 10-page order, Mr. Naidu has dealt with every charge mentioned and claimed that the Opposition MPs were "unsure" of their own case and was based on "suspicion and conjectures."

Mr. Naidu's order observed, "The Hon'ble Members of Parliament who have presented the petition are unsure of their own case. Page 1 of the petition uses phrases such as 'the facts and circumstances of the Prasad Education Trust show prima facie evidence suggesting that the Chief Justice of India 'may have been' involved in a case of illegal gratification..."

The motion further stated with regard to the Chief Justice of India that “he too was likely to fall under the scope of investigation.”

“It further states that 'the Chief Justice of India appears to have ante-dated an administrative order.' I am mentioning this fact because the phrases used by the Hon'ble Members of Parliament themselves indicate a mere suspicion, a conjecture or an assumption,” Mr. Naidu's order said.

"The same certainly does not constitute proof 'beyond reasonable doubt', which is required to make out a case of 'proved misbehaviour' under Article 124 of the Constitution. Conversation between third party with dubious credentials, which have been extensively relied upon, cannot themselves constitute any material evidence against the holder of the office of Chief Justice of India,” the order further stated.

Mr. Naidu cited a Supreme Court order to reiterate that the CJI, as Master of Roster, was entitled to allocate cases as he deemed fit and referred it as an internal matter of the judiciary."

Decision taken after consultation

The decision comes just a day after Mr. Naidu consulted Attorney General of India K.K. Venugopal and retired Supreme Court Judge Sudarshan Reddy, and before the Supreme Court opened for the week.

Rajya Sabha sources said the Chairman took a quick decision to avoid an "uncomfortable" situation for the occupant of one of the highest constitutional authorities, the Chief Justice of India.

"The Chairman didn't want the matter to linger on as it involved the prestige and dignity of the CJI's office. He cut short his tour and came back to Delhi on Sunday to take a quick decision," said a Rajya Sabha official.


On Sunday, Mr. Naidu had also spoken to former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha Subhash Kashyap, former Law Secretary P.K. Malhotra and former Legislative secretary of the Rajya Sabha Sanjay Singh, apart from senior officials of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat.

What next?

The Congress will react later in the afternoon at a press conference by former Law Minister Kapil Sibal and Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha who also heads the party's legal cell.

On Sunday, Mr. Tankha said, "In our opinion, the Chairman performs an administrative or a quasi administrative act where he had to check whether the motion is in order, whether it has valid signatures by the required number of MPs and whether what is written in the petition are reasonable to be framed as charges."

Asked what would the Congress do, if the Rajya Sabha Chairman rejects their notice, Mr. Sibal on Friday said, “We will let you know then. There are many provisions in the Constitution.”

Sources had confirmed to The Hindu that challenging the Chairman's order is an option available to the party. And since the Chairman's order pertains to the CJI, if challenged in the top court, it is likely to be heard by judges who are next in line in terms of seniority and experience.

Opposition parties, led by the Congress, met Mr. Naidu on Friday and handed over a notice for impeachment of the CJI.

The CPI, the CPI(M), the NCP, the SP, the BSP and the IUML were the parties that had agreed to the motion.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 12:45:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/venkaiah-naidu-rejects-impeachment-notice-against-cji/article23643125.ece

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