Five-Judge SC bench to hear plea against rejection of impeachment notice

New Delhi, May 7 : A five-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday a plea by two Congress Rajya Sabha members against house Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu's decision to reject a notice on the impeachment motion against apex court's Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

The bench comprising Justices A.K. Sikri, Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Arun Mishra, and Justice Adarsh Kumsar Goel will hear the matter as a first item at 10.30 a.m.

The plea by two Rajya Sabha members -- Pratap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajnik -- was included in the supplementary list issued by the top court's Registry on Monday evening.

Earlier on Monday morning, a bench headed by Justice J. Chelameswar told senior counsel Kapil Sibal to "come back tomorrow" as the latter mentioned the matter for listing for an early hearing.

Sibal told the court that since the matter involved the Chief Justice of India, it could not be mentioned before him.

He had also told the bench that the rejection of the notice of motion seeking the removal of Chief Justice Misra raised "serious constitutional issues" and involved interpretation of constitutional provisions.

The Rajya Sabha Chairman had on April 23 rejected the notice given by Rajya Sabha members of the Congress and six other opposition parties to seek the removal of Chief Justice Misra on grounds of "misbehaviour".

Naidu had said that the notice lacked merit.

The petitioners contended that Naidu's decision to reject the notice is "ex facie illegal, arbitrary, and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution" that guarantees equality before law.

They contended that the decision under challenge is in the teeth of the constitutional mandate of Articles 124 (4) and 124(5) of the Constitution.

"It is not the Rajya Sabha Chairman's prerogative to adjudicate whether there has been any abuse by the CJI of his power as the Master of the Roster (in the Supreme Court). This is the job of the Inquiry Committee," the petitioners contended.

The two lawmakers sought directions to the Rajya Sabha Chairman to admit the notice for impeachment motion and constitute a committee to investigate the grounds mentioned therein.

They also sought that Section 3(1) of the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968, insofar it allows the Rajya Sabha Chairman and Lok Sabha Speaker to exercise discretion in accepting or rejecting a notice of motion for the removal of Judge (s) as ultra vires of the Constitution, particularly Article 124 (4) and (5).

Section 3 of the Judges Inquiry Act provides for the "investigation into misbehaviour or incapacity of the Judge by the committee".

Sub-Section 1 of Section 3 of the Judges Inquiry Act says: "The Speaker or, as the case may be, the Chairman may, after consulting such persons, if any, as he thinks fit and after considering such materials, if any, as may be available to him, either admit the motion or refuse to admit the same.

Naidu had taken recourse to this provision on April 23 to reject the impeachment motion notice.

"None of the reasons given by the Chairman in the impugned order carry any weight or are legally tenable. It deserves to be set aside for being wholly extraneous and ultra vires to the Constitution and the Inquiry Act," said the petitioners.



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