New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday hit out at the BJP for "defending" Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and said the latter should consider recusing himself from judicial and administrative work till he was cleared of the charge of "misbehaviour".
"If his (CJI) own conduct is under a cloud, should he not consider recusing himself from performing judicial and administrative duties and submit himself to an inquiry so that the high office and his individual integrity are cleared or the process of law is followed in an appropriate manner," Congress Spokesperson Rajdeep Surjewala told a press conference in New Delhi.
"... the highest (law) officer of the country, an officer who is head of India's judiciary, an officer who heads the final temple of justice, an officer to whom people go to seek justice... Caesar's wife must be above suspicion. And that's why we have left it to his (CJI) conscience," he added.
"This will ensure that the process of law is followed in an appropriate manner."
In an unprecedented move, 64 members of the Rajya Sabha belonging to seven parties led by the Congress on Friday submitted an impeachment motion for the removal of the Chief Justice on five grounds of "misbehaviour".
Mr Surjewala's remarks came in the wake of media reports that the Chief Justice had decided not to recuse himself from administrative and judicial work in the Supreme Court.
Hitting out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mr Surjewala said the ruling party was compromising the position and office of the Chief Justice as a neutral arbitrator and head of the judiciary and the ruling party was doing a great disservice to the independence of the Indian judicial system.
"Does the CJI belong to a political party, ruling or otherwise? Does the CJI have to be defended by political parties or Ministers in the government? Is it not a disservice to the CJI office? They are compromising the position and office of the CJI," Mr Surjewala said.
He said that Chief Justice Misra must tell the BJP not to politicise his high office and not to politicise the impeachment motion.
Vivek Tankha, Chairman of the Congress' Legal Department, said: "He is the Chief Justice of India. He should voluntarily submit to any probe. He should regain public faith. Till then, he should think whether he should work as a Judge or not."
He maintained that the impeachment motion was not meant to insult or lower his dignity but to take the allegation against him to its logical conclusion.
Another Congress leader and Senior Advocate KTS Tulsi said that the nature of charges against the Chief Justice was so serious that an inquiry should be ordered at the earliest.
"The enquiry will be able to protect the dignity of the office of the Chief Justice of India. If no enquiry is held, it will cause much greater damage to the Supreme Court prestige," Mr Tulsi said.