Under the microscope: CJI impeachment

President of India [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Chief Justice of India (CJI), Mr. Dipak Misra has come under the ax. His colleagues in the Supreme Court, Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph have criticised Misra. Specifically in his allotment of matters to benches and especially in the case of the constitution bench. He was said to have ignored the members of the supreme court, causing a call for his impeachment. Despite Misra meeting his colleagues on January 12th to resolve issues, the matter of his impeachment still remains open.

Reasons for CJI impeachment

The issues go beyond the roster and allocation of cases. The motion calling the CJI’s impeachment came from the General Secretary of the CPI, Mr. Sitaram Yechury. The impeachment is scheduled for the upcoming budget session of the Parliament. This right now seems like an impossible task. One must consider the bureaucratic hurdles to the same. He was accused in the name of ‘transparency’, ‘propriety’ and ‘accountability’ in jurisprudence. The immediate reason for the call was the Loya PILS case being allotted to Misra’s bench. He was said to have transferred ‘sensitive’ cases to ‘preferred’ bench.

Narendra Modi on the matter of the impeachment said that the matter was internal. Therefore, the government wouldn’t meddle with it. There is more than enough opposition to Misra’s impeachment. Ramnath Kovind will have to approve the notice who acts on the advice of the union cabinet. The opposition unity is weak in favour of the impeachment. Congress is undecided on the matter. They are waiting for the results of the talks between the CJI and the judges.  Moreover, for the impeachment to come through, signatures of 50 Rajya Sabha members and 400 Lok Sabha members.

The cause for impeachment will be taken more seriously with Congress support. While impeachment may be uncertain, there is cause to resolve issues. This isn’t a straightforward matter. CJIs haven’t been impeached before in India and there’s a tough procedural hurdle in the way of CPI. One can only cross their fingers that justice is served. On 12th January Mr. Chelameswar had said, “Let the nation decide,” on the matter of the impeachment, but when does the nation really get a say.