Jurist Fali Nariman Explains Why Impeachment Move Got A Quick 'No'

"It didn't take too much time because there was nothing in the impeachment motion," Fali Nariman said.

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Fali Nariman emphasised on the Chief Justice of India's status as the master of roster


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. They weren't serious charges that required time to study: Fali Nariman
  2. The judges should make their stand clear on impeachment, he said
  3. They should clarify stand to clear confusion in people's minds, he said
Noted jurist and constitutional expert Fali Nariman dismissed concerns that Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the Rajya Sabha chairman, has spent too little time deciding on the impeachment motion that was moved by seven opposition parties last week. Mr Nariman's view, opposing the impeachment motion, was one of the opinions the Rajya Sabha secretariat had referred to while making the decision.

"It didn't take too much time because there was nothing in the impeachment motion. They weren't serious charges that required more time to study,'' he said vehemently in an interview to NDTV. "I think the Vice-President, as the leader of the House, has decided and the matter should now rest," he said.

The 89-year-old even said there was no harm in the Chief Justice of India hearing the appeal in this matter -- which the opposition parties are preparing to move -- when it comes to Supreme Court.

"It should be decided by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. He is the master of rosters," Mr Nariman said.

Rejecting Congress allegations of "tearing hurry" to turn down the impeachment move, Mr Naidu has said although the notice was submitted on Friday, he was prepping for the job for a month, ever since the media reported the opposition plans.  
 
venkaiah naidu

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu rejected the Congress-led motion to impeach Chief Justice Dipak Misra

In its notice, the opposition listed five instances and claimed they equal misbehavior, which is one of the constitutional grounds for impeachment of a Chief Justice. The other is incapacity.  The ground for the opposition move was created back in January, when four of the seniormost judges of the Supreme Court had aired their grievances in an unprecedented press conference.

Mr Nariman said the issue now "has all got confused".

The four judges, he said, only raised problems with allocation of work, but everyone is now confusing it with integrity.

The judges, he said, should make their stand clear on the impeachment - on whether they support it or not. "I want to hear from the next Chief Justice of India Justice Gogoi, what he thinks of this matter? They should all clarify their stand to clear the confusion in people's minds,'' he said.

Elaborating how the impeachment motion had charges whose source was unknown, Mr Nariman gave the instance of the charge of "ante-dating" a letter which stopped Justice Chelameswar from deciding on a further probe on the Prasad Education Trust matter in November 2017.

The opposition had claimed that the petition in that case sought an investigation into the alleged corruption case, in which "he (the Chief Justice of India) too was likely to fall within the scope of investigation".

"Even the four judges did not make such charges of 'ante-dating', so where did it come from?'' Mr Nariman said.

Suggesting that the impeachment motion was motivated, he pointed out that the opposition couldn't expect the Chief Justice of India to be impeached with just six months left of his term. "If it wasn't to remove him, I wonder what the motivation could be,'' he said.

Asked if this was the worst crisis the judiciary faced, he said, "It is the worst crisis".

The last crisis was in the 1970s, during the Keshav Nand Bharti judgment, "which had 13 judges, but they were all fighting and wouldn't sign to show agreement. In the end, only nine did,'' he said. How was the matter sorted out? Apparently, it didn't till they all retired.

"Our current crisis, sparked since four top judges spoke up, is supposed to have put that episode to shame," he said.

"What I fear is -- what if tomorrow a judge gives a judgment against the ruling party, which has majority numbers? They may bring an impeachment motion because they will use this as a precedent," he added.


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