Opposition parties sign draft proposal to bring impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra

“A lot of opposition parties have signed the draft proposal for moving an impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra. Many parties like Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Left parties and I think TMC and Congress have also signed it,” NCP General Secretary D.P. Tripathi told ANI.

The development follows West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s meeting with senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan earlier in the day to discuss a possible impeachment motion against the CJI.

The discussions are expected to continue in the coming days and the opposition leaders are planning to reach out to more like-minded parties, said one of the persons, who did not wish to be identified. He said they were deliberating over bringing an impeachment motion in the Rajya Sabha, perhaps in the ongoing session, with the mandatory signatures of a minimum 50 MPs.

Speaking to Times Now, BJP leader Nalin Kohli said the impeachment motion against the CJI is a direct and ill-conceived move to politicise the judiciary. Given the timing of the draft note, the impeachment motion was designed to curtail the Chief Justice’s role in politically-sensitive cases ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Kohli alleged.

The first issue on the draft accuses Misra of illegal gratification in the Prasad Education Trust case, a bribery scam in which the institution allegedly gave kickbacks to senior judicial functionaries for clearance to set up a medical college. It further alleges that Misra had submitted a false affidavit in a land acquisition matter while he was still serving as an advocate. Prashant Bhushan had accused CJI Dipak Misra of corruption. In an unprecedented development, Bhushan had stormed out of a hearing in the apex court while yelling at the Chief Justice of India.

The impeachment motion is in relation to the CJI’s handling of the matters raised by four Supreme Court judges in a press conference on January 11.

Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M.B. Lokur and Kurien Joseph had earlier this year said Misra was assigning important cases in an arbitrary manner to junior judges, ignoring these four senior judges.

To bring an impeachment motion, the proposal should have a support of 50 members if it is introduced in the Rajya Sabha, and likewise 100 members in Lok Sabha. The motion can be submitted in either House and the Speaker may admit or reject such a proposal. In case the proposal is accepted, the Speaker forms a three-member committee to probe the charges laid against the judge, in this case, CJI Misra, and if found guilty the House can take up the matter. The President then finally addresses the Parliament and passes the impeachment order.

It is unclear if the impeachment proceedings would succeed against Justice Misra – the investigation itself is unlikely to be completed by the time he is supposed to retire in October 2018.