In an unprecedented move, the leaders of Congress along with six other opposition parties met Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday seeking “impeachment” of the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Signed by 64 Rajya Sabha MPs, the leaders submitted a notice which listed five charges against CJI Dipak Misra.
“The Constitution allows only one recourse to remedy the situation. Since there is no other way to protect the institution except to move an impeachment motion, we, members of the Rajya Sabha, do so with a heavy heart. We took upon ourselves to move the impeachment motion in the background set out above but on the basis of charges of acts of misbehaviour that are set out in the impeachment motion,” the notice reads. Apart from the Congress, the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) are backing the notice.
But in reality, the Constitution of India nowhere mentions impeachment in connection with the judiciary. The term impeachment is used only in relation to the President of India under Article 61 of the Constitution and in Article 124 in Chapter IV, which is about the Union Judiciary and establishment and constitution of Supreme Court, the term “removed” is used.
So while a judge and even the Chief Justice of India can be removed, he or she can never be impeached according to the the Constitution or The Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968 which regulates “the procedure for the investigation and proof of the misbehaviour or incapacity of a Judge of the Supreme Court or of the presentation of an address by Parliament to the President and for matters connected therewith”.
The procedure to remove a judge has to also take into account Article 14 of the Constitution which comes under the Fundamental Rights. Article 14 states that “the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”