Congress MPs challenge Naidu's rejection of impeachment motion

Congress MPs challenge Naidu's rejection of impeachment motion

Congress MPs challenge Naidu's rejection of impeachment motion

A five-judge constitution bench was today constituted in the Supreme Court to hear tomorrow the petition moved by two Congress MPs challenging the rejection of the impeachment notice against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.

The Bench is also composed of Justices S.A. Bobde, N.V. Ramana, Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel.

A solution has now been found by handing the case to a bench headed by Justice A.K. Sikri, the sixth senior-most judge.

The senior-most judges after the CJI - J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur - could not have been picked to hear the case, since numerous issues raised by them against the CJI in their unprecedented 12 January press conference found their way to the impeachment motion.

The Judges said the petition should be taken up before the Chief Justice of India and cited a Constitution Bench judgment on the powers of the top Judge as master of the roster.

Senior Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal, who settled the petition, asked senior apex court judge Justice Chelameshwar to set up a panel to hear the plea. Sibal had said that this writ could not be mentioned anywhere else.

It was not immediately clear as to who has constituted the bench and assigned the matter to it.

He also said that the Parliament was supreme in its own jurisdiction and its process can not be subjected to judicial review and "impeachment" motion was filed on untenable grounds for a collateral goal to intimidate the CJI and other judges.

Moreover, he could not approach the CJI complaining about Registry's action as he is disabled to hear a case against him.

The four senior most SC judges may not have been included on the Bench because one of the charges in the motion is the CJI's "abuse of authority" as master of roster.

Justice Chelameswar asked Sibal to appear before him at 10.30am Tuesday.

"We are only concerned with the listing.Your lordships may not pass any orders", Sibal said.

64 lawmakers from seven Opposition parties - including the Congress - submitted the impeachment motion to Vice-President (and Rajya Sabha chairman) Venkaiah Naidu last month. This was the first time that a notice for the removal was filed against a sitting CJI.

It sought setting aside of the chairman's order terming the charges contained in the notice of motion are "extremely serious" and merit "a full-fledged inquiry to test their veracity". Sibal said the RS chairman erroneously concluded that the notice of motion did not give proof of the five counts of alleged misconduct.

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