Dipak Misra impeachment: Venkaiah Naidu cuts short Hyderabad tour

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Vice president and Rajya Sabha Speaker Venkaiah Naidu today rejected opposition-sponsored notice to impeach Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on the grounds of impropriety in his functioning as head of the judiciary. It jeopardizes the judicial system, We will certainly move a petition in the SC to challenge this order.

It is learnt that Naidu had spoken to Attorney General KK Venugopal, former Supreme Court judge B Sudershan Reddy, Subhash Kashyap, former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha, former Law Secretary PK Malhotra, former legislative secretary Sanjay Singh, and senior officials of the Rajya Sabha secretariat before rejecting the opposition notice.

This is the first instance where impeachment proceedings were initiated against a Chief Justice in the history of Independent India.

In his order Vice President, who is also Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, ruled that there should be "extra ordinary, important and substantial ground for the removal of a Judge". Some others said that the decision was taken without due consultation.

64 lawmakers from seven Opposition parties - including the Congress - submitted the motion to the Rajya Sabha Chairman last week.

Unruffled by the move seeking his removal, CJI Misra on Monday presided over Supreme Court number 1 - although there were some anxious moments initially - with usual ease.

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Congress spokesman RS Surjewala said the Rajya Sabha chairman can not adjudicate on the notice. I think this unprecedented order only shatters the confidence of people, destroys legitimate process of law. The two Petitions had been filed demanding an independent probe into allegations of corruption in the higher judiciary.

She cited Naidu's order in which he referred to use of words like "prime facie" and "may have been" by opposition parties in their charges referring to the CJI to highlight that their allegations indicate a mere suspicion, a conjecture or an assumption against him.

Kapil Sibal, on his part, said Naidu was "totally wrong on that account also".

It was also argued that The Rajya Sabha Chairman could not reject the notice if it met the requirements of 50 signatures. Even if the motion would have been allowed and committee would have been constituted under the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968, it was unlikely that the motion would have been passed by the requisite majority in both the houses. He said that the Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu was too hasty in his decision to dismiss the notice, and that a nuanced enquiry was necessary for the issue.

Nevertheless, the Opposition is keen to have the notice taken up in the Upper House.

Justice Chelameswar is one of the four judges, who had held a press conference in January on the problems facing the Supreme Court, chief among which was the CJI's functioning as master of the roster. "In this case, the complainants were not not sure", the functionary said.