'We cannot allow any of our pillars of governance to be weakened by any thought, word or action'
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday rejected the unprecedented impeachment notice given by opposition parties led by the Congress against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, saying it lacked substantial merit and that the allegations were neither “tenable nor admissible”.
The vice president in his order held that that the allegations emerging from the present case have a serious tendency of “undermining” the independence of the judiciary.
Naidu based his decision on the opinion of top legal and constitutional experts, including former secretary generals of Lok Sabha and other legal luminaries with whom he held extensive consultations.
He also held the views of top legal and constitutional experts, including former chief justices and judges, before taking the decision, sources said.
Seven opposition parties led by the Congress had last week moved a notice before him for impeachment of the Chief Justice of India on five grounds of “misbehaviour”.
Leaders of the opposition parties had on Friday last met Naidu and handed over the notice of impeachment against the CJI bearing signatures of 64 MPs and seven former members, who recently retired.
“I have considered the material contained in the Notice of Motion and reflected upon the inputs received in my interaction with legal luminaries and constitutional experts, I am of the firm opinion that the Notice of Motion does not deserve to be admitted,” Naidu said in the order rejecting the plea.
“I refuse to admit the Notice of Motion,” he said.
Naidu said he had detailed personal conversations on all aspects arising from the notice and had considered each of the allegations made in it individually as well as collectively.
“Clearly this is an internal matter to be resolved by the Supreme Court itself. Going through the five allegations mentioned in the notice, I am of the view that they are neither tenable nor admissible,” he said in his order.
“The allegations emerging from the present case have a serious tendency of undermining the independence of judiciary which is the basic tenet of the Constitution of India.
“Based on all this, I have come to the conclusion that this motion does not deserve to be admitted... On careful analysis and reflection, I find there is virtually no concrete verifiable imputation,” he said.
The Rajya Sabha chairman said that after having perused annexures to the motion, detailed consultations and studied opinions of constitutional experts, he was “satisfied that admission of this Notice of Motion is neither desirable nor proper on any of these grounds”.
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 ‘misbehaviour’ 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”.
“The same does not constitute proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, which is required to make out a case of ‘proved misbehaviour’ under Article 124 (4),” the order said.
“In passing, I am constrained to observe that in this matter, the well established parliamentary customs and conventions as have been delineated in para 2.2 of the Handbook for Members of Rajya Sabha have been disregarded,” the chairman said while making a reference to the press conference held by opposition parties.
The rejection of the notice comes a day after he held the consultations to determine the maintainability of the motion.
The sources said that Vice President Naidu met the experts after re-scheduling his travel plans considering the seriousness of the matter.
Congress sources said the party is likely to move the Supreme Court against the order of the Rajya Sabha chairman in the matter.
This is the first time ever that an impeachment notice has been filed against a sitting CJI.
Naidu spoke to former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash Kashyap, ex-law secretary P K Malhotra and former legislative secretary Sanjay Singh on the issue, officials had said on Sunday.
He also held deliberations with senior officials of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, they said, adding that Naidu also spoke to former Supreme Court judge B Sudarshan Reddy.
The officials said the vice president also spoke to the attorney general on the issue.
Naidu continued with the deliberations till late Sunday evening and spoke to K Parasaran, who was the attorney general during the Congress governments led by Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and was also a member to the Upper House nominated by the party.