Congress refuses to proceed with impeachment petition in SC

Two Congress Party MPs refused to proceed the with their petition in the Supreme Court on the impeachment of the Chief Justice after the judges refused to share the order passed by the Chief Justice of India on the matter.

The Chief Justice of India had, last evening, taken up the matter and allocated it to a bench of five judges selected by him. The bench does not include any of the top five judges of the Supreme Court by seniority.

Congress MPs’ counsel Kapil Sibal took objection to the intervention of the Chief Justice in a matter that relates to his own impeachment.

Sibal said he wanted to see a copy of the order passed by the Chief Justice by which the matter was allocated to the particular bench which was hearing it today.

Sibal had, yesterday, approached the second-most senior judge in the Supreme Court of India, Justice Chelameswar, with his petition, given that he could not have approached the Chief Justice himself in a matter relating to his own impeachment.

The petitioner MPs – Pratap Singh Bajwa from Punjab and Amee Harshadray Yajnik from Gujarat – said that once a removal motion is signed by the requisite number of MPs the Rajya Sabha chairman has no option but to constitute an inquiry committee to investigate the charges against the CJI.

Yesterday, Sibal had urged Justice Chelameswar to take up the petition and allocate it as he saw fit. Justice Chelameswar had urged Sibal to come back today (Tuesday).

However, a few hours later, Chief Justice Dipak Misra intervened in the matter and allocated the petition to a bench of five judges he selected.

The five judge bench today took up the matter, but Sibal was insistent that he wanted to see the order by which the Chief Justice has intervened in the matter.

When his request was refused by the judges, Sibal said he had option but to withdraw his clients’ petition.

“It is well settled that no administrative or judicial authority can act on his own cause,” said lawyer Prashant Bhushan on today’s events.

“It was not possible for the Chief Justice to have dealt with this case either in administrative side or judicial side… (However,) the Chief Justice seems to have exercised his role as the master of the roster and referred it to a constitutional bench in court 6.”

Bhushan said Sibal wanted a copy of the administrative order passed by the Chief Justice of India “so that it could be challenged on grounds of natural justice etc..”

BJP spokesperson and lawyer Gaurav Bhatia said the petition was withdrawn because the petitioners “lacked the conviction” to press ahead with the same.