New Delhi: A petition on the impeachment move against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, rejected recently by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, will be heard by a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
- Impeachment petition was signed by over 60 parliamentarians
- Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra will not hear the petition
- Four judges who rank right after the CJI won't also hear petition
The petition is by the Congress, which says Mr Naidu's decision was "illegal and arbitrary" and taken in a "cavalier, cryptic and abrupt manner", without an inquiry.
The judges who will hear the Congress's challenge are Justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde, NV Ramana, Arun Mishra and AK Goel. Justices Bobde and Ramana are both in line for Chief Justice. Justice Sikri, who will head the bench, is number six in seniority.
Last month, the impeachment petition signed by over 60 Rajya Sabha parliamentarians called for Justice Misra's impeachment six months before he retires. The motion "doesn't deserve to be admitted", Mr Naidu, the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said just three days later.
Congress leader and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who was also a signatory to the impeachment notice, asked for urgent listing of the case before a bench headed by Justice Jasti Chelameswar, the second-most senior judge after the Chief Justice and one of the four judges who went public with their criticism of the way sensitive cases were being assigned by the Chief Justice.
To Mr Sibal's argument, the judges replied that the petition should be taken up before the Chief Justice, whose role as master of the roster -- the one to decide on assigning of cases -- had been defined.
Mr Sibal pointed out that the impeachment notice concerns the Chief Justice. "A person cannot be a judge in his own cause," he said.
On Monday evening, it was confirmed that the Chief Justice will not hear the petition, and neither will the four judges who rank right after him, including Justice Chelameswar, since they had publicly criticised him and accused him of abusing his position as "master of the roster".
The judges' extraordinary act of going public with their criticism of the Chief Justice spurred the opposition move to impeach the Chief Justice. The notice listed five grounds, which, the Congress said, equals misbehaviour. The Congress petition says the Vice President's rejection should be set aside as it only deals with the charge related to the assigning of cases.