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Kapil Sibal withdraws plea challenging VP’s rejection of impeachment motion against CJI from SC

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New Delhi: Senior advocate Kapil Sibal on Tuesday withdrew the petition challenging the rejection of notice on impeachment against CJI Dipak Misra by Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu.

The petition was filed by two Congress Rajya Sabha MPs — Partap Singh Bajwa from Punjab and Amee Harshadray Yajnik from Gujarat — challenging the vice-president’s decision to nix the bid to impeach the Chief Justice.

A five-judge bench of Justices A K Sikri, SA Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun K Mishra and Adarsh K Girl dismissed the petition as withdrawn.

Sibal’s appearance for the two RS Congress MPS was objected by two advocates R P Luthra and Ashwini Upadhyay who said the Bar Council of India prohibits those advocate politicians who have signed the notice of removal motion from arguing the same case. But the apex court said it was for Sibal to decide whether to argue or not.

The top court repeatedly asked what purpose it would serve if Sibal was given a copy of the administrative order passed by the CJI that referred the petition to the five-judge bench. Sibal maintained that only after getting the order would he decide whether to challenge it or accept it. But when the Supreme Court expressed reluctance to part with the administrative order, Sibal then abruptly decided to withdraw the petition.

The MPs in their petition claimed that once the initiation of removal motion is signed by the requisite number of MPs, the Vice-President has no option but shall constitute an Inquiry Committee to investigate the allegations against the CJI Dipak Misra.

Bajwa and Yajnik also questioned listing of their plea before 5-judge SC bench.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the MPs, asked who passed the order for setting up a 5-judge bench to hear matter.

“Matter was listed before 5-judge bench through an administrative order, CJI can’t pass such orders in this matter,” said Sibal

He also told the apex court that they need to have a copy of the order on setting up of the bench as they may consider challenging it.

On April 24th, Naidu who rejected the unprecedented impeachment notice given by opposition parties led by the Congress defended the step saying that the rejection came after over a month of ‘due diligence’.

Naidu had rejected the impeachment notice saying it lacked substantial merit and that the allegations were neither “tenable nor admissible”.

“Decision to reject impeachment motion against CJI was not hasty, came after over a month of ‘due diligence’. The decision was in strict conformity with provisions of Constitution, Judges Inquiry Act,” the Rajya Sabha Chairman had said.

Stating that he has done his job and satisfied with it, Naidu said, “Rajya Sabha chairman’s office not a mere post office but a constitutional functionary.”

Seven opposition parties led by the Congress had last week moved a notice before him for impeachment of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) on five grounds of “misbehaviour”.

Rejecting the motion, the vice president in his order had held that that the allegations emerging from the present case have a serious tendency of “undermining” the independence of the judiciary.

Naidu also held the “We cannot allow any of our pillars of governance to be weakened by any thought, word or action.”

“In the absence of credible and verifiable information placed before me which gives an indication of ‘misbehavior’ or ‘incapacity’, it would be inappropriate and irresponsible act to accept statement which have little imperial basis,” he said.

The vice president said the MPs, who have presented the petition, are themselves “unsure” of their own case as the phrases used by them indicate “a mere suspicion, a conjecture or are assumptions”.

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