New Delhi: Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who fronted the Congress-led opposition move to impeach Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, felt the opposite about proceeding against judges eight years ago, when his party was in power and he was a minister.
- In 2010, Mr Sibal had called the impeachment process "unconstitutional"
- Kapil Sibal has said he will not appear in the court of the Chief Justice
- The Congress opposed impeachment more than once when it was in power
"I think it's doing the greatest disservice to the nation if politicians decide on the fate of judges," Kapil Sibal had told NDTV in 2010.
At the time, there were moves to impeach Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen, who was accused of financial irregularities. The motion was passed in the Rajya Sabha and was to be voted on in the Lok Sabha but Justice Sen resigned and avoided becoming the first judge to be impeached by parliament.
Last Friday, the Congress submitted an unprecedented opposition notice for the impeachment of the Chief Justice of India, with the signature of 64 lawmakers from seven parties. The notice has been rejected by Venkaiah Naidu but Mr Sibal, a senior lawyer, has said he will not appear in the court of the Chief Justice.
In 2010, Mr Sibal had called the same process "unconstitutional" as parties would have to issue a whip in the house to ensure numbers.
"If you issue a whip, you are in fact not allowing a (member of parliament) to exercise his judicial judgement, because when you are in parliament in an impeachment proceeding, you are judges," he said.
He also argued that while he was all for tackling errant judges, he would not want a system "where political parties as opposition sign x number of... and now say that 50 people have signed and now the guy is guilty... Those 50 people, all the parties, all the members of parties who have signed will issue whips. Whether you agree with the defence or not, you have to vote against him. What kind of process is that?"
Asked to explain the wide gap in his stand then-and-now, Mr Sibal told NDTV today: "I never changed my point. I still say so."
The Congress opposed impeachment more than once when it was in power. In 1993, when impeachment proceedings were initiated in parliament against Supreme Court judge V Ramaswami on charges of corruption, Mr Sibal had strongly defended the judge in the house. The impeachment motion was defeated.