Congress lines up SC challenge to rejection

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The motion against the CJI was submitted by the Congress-led opposition members of the Rajya Sabha.

The Congress on Monday lashed out at RajyaSabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu for rejecting an impeachment notice filed by opposition parties against Chief Justice of India DipakMisra and said it would move the Supreme Court to challenge the illegal order which had shattered the confidence of people. Sibal said it was ill-advised of the Chairman to reject the motion without even consulting the judges who had voiced their concerns through a press conference on January 12, 2018.

He said he came to the "firm opinion" that the motion "does not deserve to be admitted". "Conversations between third parties with dubious credentials, which have been extensively relied upon, can not themselves constitute any material evidence against the holder of the office of the Chief Justice of India", Naidu ruled.

Welcoming the decision, BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said the vice president, who is also the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha, applied his mind and gave a detailed order.

The Rajya Sabha Chairman also held that in the Prasad Education Trust case, "the conversations between third parties with dubious credentials, which have been extensively relied upon, can not themselves constitute any material evidence against the holder of the office of CJI".

Earlier in the day, the vice-president in his order said, "The motion undermines independence of judiciary".

On April 20, the opposition led by the Congress moved an impeachment motion in the Rajya Sabha, seeking the removal of Chief Justice Misra from office under Article 217 read with article 124 (4) of the Constitution of India.

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At the time, there were moves to impeach Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen, who was accused of financial irregularities. These discussions are said to have taken place through the weekend.

The Supreme Court said it was also salutary that before admitting the motion to remove a judge there shall exist factual foundation.

Meanwhile, the senior counsel Prashant Bhushan criticised Mr Naidu's decision and said, "He has no power to say the charges are not made out".

He also spoke to Subhash Kashyap, former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha, P.K. Malhotra, former Law Secretary, Sanjay Singh, former Legislative Secretary and senior officials of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Sibal argued that the order was illegal as it is for the Judges Inquiry Committee to find out if there was proved misbehaviour. The motion was signed by 64 sitting members of the Upper House.

After the meeting, a much-relieved CJI walked into his courtroom flanked by two judges around 10.45 am faced with a smile the lawyers who queued up for their cases.

Kapil Sibal addressed the media today, to explain the steps that are going to be undertaken by the opposition for the impeachment of CJI Dipak Misra.

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