Explainer: 5 charges listed by Opposition for CJI Dipak Misra's impeachment
The move is unprecedented since no CJI has has ever faced impeachment in the country.
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On April 20, Opposition leaders submitted a notice for the impeachment of CJI Dipak Misra, to vice-president Venkaiah Naidu. The move is unprecedented since no CJI has has ever faced impeachment in the country. Seven opposition parties, led by the Congress, submitted the petition with 71 signatures to the vice-president.
Here are the charges listed by the opposition parties:
1) The facts and circumstances relating to the Prasad Educational Trust case show prima facie evidence suggesting that chief justice Dipak Misra may have been involved in the conspiracy of paying illegal gratification, which at least warrants a thorough investigation. The facts and circumstances relating to the Prasad Educational Trust case show prima facie evidence suggesting that Chief Justice Dipak Misra may have been involved in the conspiracy of paying illegal gratification, which at least warrants a thorough investigation.
The above allegation takes us back to the medical admissions scam case in which CJI Misra came under scanner. The Central Bureau of Investigation intercepted various phone calls where the middleman boasted of getting favorable orders from the Supreme Court.
Kapil Sibal acknowledged that there are only innuendos and no direct reference to the CJI in those call records. The Congress and other opposition parties are not pointing to any judicial order, but rather what the CBI had earlier alleged.
The medical admissions scam was the beginning of the storm in Supreme Court. The CJI eventually denied permission to the CBI to take action against justice SN Shukla of Allahabad High Court. He, however, was later found guilty of misconduct by an internal probe panel.
After the findings of the in-house panel, the CJI recommended to the president of India that justice Shukla be impeached. There have been repeated demands for an in-house panel inquiry into the medical admissions scam which have not found any favour with the CJI's office.
2) That chief justice Dipak Misra dealt, on the administrative as well as judicial side, with a writ petition which sought investigation into a matter in which he too was likely to fall within the scope of investigation since he had presided over every bench which had dealt with the case and passed orders in the case of Prasad Educational Trust, and thus violated the first principle of the Code of Conduct for judges.
3) That chief justice Dipak Misra appears to have antedated an administrative order dated 6 November 2017, which amounts to a serious act of forgery/fabrication.
It was back in November last year that the medical admissions scam knocked the doors of the Supreme Court as an NGO lead by Prashant Bhushan filed a PIL. Although a similar plea filed by Bhushan was listed before another bench, he made a mentioning before justice J Chelameswar that the role of Supreme Court judges in medical admissions scam be probed.
It was also argued that the CJI should not head the bench since he is under scanner. Justice Chelameswar passed an order on the same day that the matter be listed before a bench of five judges. During this hearing on November 9, while justice Chelameswar was hearing the matter in court, a note was handed over to him.
It is alleged that the note, dated November 6, stated that urgent mentioning of all matters was being done only before the bench headed by CJI. It was an administrative order. The allegation is that this note was prepared earlier and issued later and hence it's an abuse of administrative powers of the CJI.
Mentioning is a procedure of the Supreme Court whereby advocates make request to the CJI to list matters on an urgent basis, or adjourn a matter. The mentionings are made before the CJI or before second senior-most judge if the CJI is sitting in a constitution bench.
That day when Prashant Bhushan made a mentioning, CJI Dipak Misra was sitting in a constitution bench. On the very next day, asserting his power as the master of roster, CJI Misra constituted a five-judge bench which passed an order overturning the order by justice Chelameswar. Justice Chelameswar has gone on record to say that there was no reason for his order to be overturned.
It is important to mention that these PILs were eventually heard by the bench of justice Arun Mishra and dismissed with a cost of Rs 25 lakh. It is the same bench which was supposed to hear the judge Loya case earlier. In all likelihood, this is the same bench which the four judges called "preferred bench" for "selective assignment" of sensitive cases.
4) That chief justice Dipak Misra acquired land when he was an advocate, by giving an affidavit that was found to be false and, despite the orders of the ADM cancelling the allotment in 1985, surrendered the said land only in 2012 after he was elevated to the Supreme Court.
It has been further alleged that justice Misra kept the land and gave it away only after he was elevated to the Supreme Court in 2012. Submitting false affidavits is not only an improper conduct for an advocate, but is a serious charge on any judge reflecting on his professional character and conduct.
5) That chief justice Dipak Misra has abused his administrative authority as the master of roster to arbitrarily assign individual cases of particular advocates in politically sensitive cases to select judges in order to achieve a predetermined outcome.
This allegation takes us back to the controversy around the term "master of roster". The four judges in their press conference in January alleged that the CJI is abusing his administrative powers and selectively assigning cases to a particular bench to get favourable orders.
The underlying allegation is of an interference from the executive. In the press conference, the four judges acknowledged that the assignment of judge Loya case to the bench of justice Arun Mishra was one of the flashpoints.