Only Lawmakers Can Impeach High Court Judge, Not Us, Says Centre: Sources

The role of Justice SN Shukla of Allahabad High Court, came under scanner after a private medical college was permitted to admit students despite a ban by the government.

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Only Lawmakers Can Impeach High Court Judge, Not Us, Says Centre: Sources

The judicial functions of Justice SN Shukla of Allahabad High Court has been withdrawn.

New Delhi:  The government has no role to play in the removal of Justice SN Shukla -- the Allahabad High Court judge who was accused of misconduct in the medical admissions scam -- sources told NDTV. Last week, after adverse remarks from a judicial committee that examined his role, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi about his impeachment - a process that is conducted through voting in parliament.

Today, sources said the government cannot move a motion of impeachment. According to the rules, it can be moved by individual lawmakers only if it has the support of 100 Lok Sabha and 50 Rajya Sabha members. Following this, an internal inquiry is conducted. If the judge is found guilty, the motion has to be passed with special majority in both houses and then it is presented to the president who has to sign off on it.   

According to the Constitution, a judge can be removed only on grounds of misbehavior or incapacity. In this case, sources said, it is possible that a motion will be moved on the ground of conduct unbecoming -- a serious issue for both judiciary and the government.   

Justice Shukla's role came under scanner after a private medical college was permitted to admit students despite a ban by the government. There were allegations that in September last year, he made handwritten changes in his own bench's order that made the admissions possible. The revised order came days after the Supreme Court barred the High Court from allowing the Lucknow-based GCRG Institute of Medical Science to admit students for the 2017-18 session.

So far, no judge has been impeached in the country. Only two cases have been brought before parliament for impeachment proceedings, but neither process could be completed.

In 1993, impeachment proceedings were initiated against Justice V Ramaswamy, who was caught in a controversy while he was the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana high court.  But the impeachment motion failed after the Congress lawmakers abstained from voting.

In 2011, Justice Soumitra Sen of Calcutta High Court stepped down after Rajya Sabha passed his impeachment motion. There were allegations of financial irregularities against him.

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The same year, Justice PD Dinakaran, the Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court who was accused of corruption, resigned before impeachment proceedings could be started against him.  

Justice Shukla, too, was advised to step down after the three-judge panel that was looking into the allegations against him, made adverse remarks. But he refused to do so. Only then, Chief Justice Misra  wrote to the President Kovind and PM Modi advising his removal. As a first step, his judicial functions have already been withdrawn.

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