New Delhi: Rajya Sabha chairman and vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday refused to admit a motion moved by seven opposition parties to initiate impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
However, the Congress party, which is anchoring the proposition, is refusing to back down and is now proposing to challenge the order in the Supreme Court—suggesting that the confrontation is likely to escalate.
Earlier, Naidu, in an official order maintained that the notice did not deserve to be admitted, while noting that a spate of statements on the subject had “vitiated the atmosphere".
“I have considered the material contained in the Notice of Motion and reflected upon the inputs received in my interaction with legal luminaries and constitutional experts. I am of the firm opinion that the Notice of Motion does not deserve to be admitted. I refuse to admit the Notice of Motion," Naidu said in a 10-page order released on the Rajya Sabha website on Monday.
Grounds cited for the refusal include failure to adhere to “well established parliamentary customs and conventions"; holding of press conferences by opposition members, violating parliamentary decorum; and finding “virtually no concrete verifiable imputation" with respect to the charges.
Naidu said the opposition parties had disregarded parliamentary customs and conventions which prohibit publicity of any notice submitted by a member till it has been admitted by the chairman and circulated by the members. He said he had consulted legal and constitutional experts over the issue.
Seven opposition parties led by the Congress met the Rajya Sabha chairman on Friday to move the motion against Misra on grounds of alleged misbehaviour and misuse of authority.
Allegations include Misra’s alleged involvement in a conspiracy to pay bribes in a medical admission scam, alleged abuse of administrative powers in allocating cases in the Supreme Court; and being embroiled in a land allotment case in Odisha where the lease of land allotted to him was cancelled by the state government due to alleged irregularities in an affidavit.
Naidu’s order drew a sharp reaction from the Congress party which has led the impeachment move. Kapil Sibal, senior Congress leader and former law minister questioned the legality of Naidu’s order and described it as “unprecedented, illegal, ill-advised and hasty".
“We will move a petition in Supreme Court to challenge the order and we are confident that when we move this petition, the Chief Justice of India has nothing to do with it (court proceedings)," Sibal told reporters.
For an impeachment motion to pass, it will need the support of at least two-thirds of the members of Parliament (MPs) in both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.
The problem for the Congress party has got compounded, not just because some opposition parties declined to support the motion but also because the party is seeing voices of dissent from within.
When asked why some party leaders differ from Congress’ official stand on the motion, Sibal said that if someone is not an MP then their views on the matter are inconsequential.
“Judiciary is one institution which is respected by all and their independence has to be maintained but Congress party has repeatedly shown that they are the institutional disruptors and they can go to any extent to play their dirty politics," Meenakshi Lekhi, spokesperson and senior BJP leader said.