CJI impeachment plea: Who passed order to set up Constitution bench, asks Sibal

Kapil Sibal

New Delhi, May 8: Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Tuesday said he withdrew the petition challenging the rejection of the impeachment motion notice against the Chief Justice of India as the case had been referred to a five-judge bench without following the due process.

Addressing a press conference, Sibal said “We filed a petition in the apex court (challenging  Naidu’s rejection of impeachment motion notice against CJI) yesterday and was to be heard today. But we were informed last evening that our petition will be heard by 5 judges”.

The Congress leader asked, “Who gave these orders? What were the orders?”

He said Apex Court rules do not allow the Chief Justice to pass an administrative order to refer a matter to a five-judge bench on the ground that a “substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution arises in the case”.

The Constitution Bench excludes the five senior-most judges of the apex court — four of whom had held a presser in January — and was formed late on Monday to hear the matter on Tuesday.

“If such an order has been passed by the Chief Justice, although the petition pertains to his own impeachment, then we should be given a copy of the order, as it is our constitutional right to know who has passed these orders”.

“They (bench) did not answer our question and asked us to argue on the merits of the case. We told them we could not argue the case until we get a copy of the order. So we withdrew the petition,” he added.

Sibal said, “the Congress party wants to protect the independence and dignity of judiciary, adding we want to ensure that the processes of the court are not polluted”.

He also stated that Congress did not have a personal grievance against any judge.

During proceedings, Sibal sought details of the administrative order directing a five-judge Constitution bench be set up to hear the matter, citing the petitioners may consider challenging.

Sibal further told the top court the matter was listed before a 5-judge Bench through an administrative order and that the Chief Justice of India can’t pass such orders in this matter.

Meanwhile, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for M Venkaiah Naidu, said the CJI had the power to do so.

After a 45-minutes of hearing, the Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri, declared the petition as dismissed as withdrawn.

Two Rajya Sabha Congress Parliamentarians Pratap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajnik had approached the apex court on Monday challenging Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu’s decision to reject impeachment motion notice against the CJI.

The opposition had handed over signatures of 71 lawmakers from seven parties on April 20 under Article 217 read with article 124 (4) of the Constitution of India.

Following this, On April 23, Naidu rejected the Impeachment Notice against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra citing lack of substantial facts


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