Opposition begins signature drive on impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra

The Opposition parties have discreetly started gathering signatures of MPs to move an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on the allegation of abuse of authority.

By: | Updated: 28 Mar 2018 09:13 AM
Congress-led opposition begins signature drive on impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra

The draft motion seeking a message to the President of India for removal of the CJI, under Article 217, read with Article 124(4) of the Constitution, lists several charges relating to both administrative and judicial acts. Photo: PTI

NEW DELHI: The Opposition parties have discreetly started gathering signatures of MPs to move an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on the allegation of abuse of authority.

The move is unlikely to reach closure before October when Justice Misra retires, or before this Lok Sabha's tenure ends next year. Nor does the Opposition have the two-thirds majority required in both Houses to push through an impeachment.

However, if the Opposition does press ahead, the mere action of moving the impeachment notice will symbolise an extraordinary moment. The real objective of the Opposition will be to hammer home its contention that the sanctity of no institution has been left untouched after the Narendra Modi government came to power.

The Opposition has pegged the draft notice to the unparalleled media conference by four senior Supreme Court judges in January this year. The virtual revolt had exposed fissures within the highest echelons of the judiciary.

The judges had also confirmed that one of the contentious issues was the allocation of petitions on the death of Justice B.H. Loya who was presiding over a case in which BJP chief Amit Shah was an accused. Shah was discharged after Loya's death.

The draft motion seeking a message to the President of India for removal of the CJI, under Article 217, read with Article 124(4) of the Constitution, lists several charges relating to both administrative and judicial acts.

A Congress leader told The Telegraph: "We are exploring the possibility (of moving the motion).... But the final decision will be taken tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. It is true a draft of the impeachment motion has been circulated among Opposition MPs and over 40 signatures are already there. We will decide whether to move the motion tomorrow itself or a little later."

Asked why the Congress has shed its initial reluctance, the leader said: "There is grave concern, and certain judgments deepened the perception of crisis in the past few months. We are taking the step after a thorough examination of the whole gamut of issues."

Many Rajya Sabha MPs confirmed they had signed the motion and were of the understanding that it would be moved on Wednesday.

"It depends on the House functioning; there has been total paralysis since this session began. Tomorrow is the farewell of retiring MPs and we will see after that," another leader said.

He said that those who had signed belonged to the Congress, NCP, CPM, CPI, DMK, SP, BSP and RJD. Trinamul Congress MPs have not signed so far but Mamata Banerjee told reporters in Delhi that her party would go with the Opposition.

Sources said lawyer Prashant Bhushan had met Mamata to explain the gravity of the situation. In the Congress, while top lawyer Kapil Sibal was always in favour of the impeachment motion, other legal luminaries like Salman Khurshid had suggested a cautious approach.

"What we see is a worsening crisis and no remedy is in sight," said another leader, explaining the evolution of the Opposition strategy.

-The Telegrapch Calcutta
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