Two Congress MPs on Tuesday withdrew their petition in the Supreme Court challenging the rejection of the impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. They withdrew the petition after the court refused to provide them a copy of the order on the formation of a five-judge Constitution bench to hear the plea, Live Law reported.
It is not clear who formed the bench – Misra, being the chief justice and Master of the Roster, decides which cases judges hear, but the petition directly involves him. None of the five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court are on the Constitution bench. Four of them had made allegations against Misra in a press conference in January.
“Never before has a petition been referred to a five-judge bench immediately on filing and by an administrative order,” senior advocate and Congress leader Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, said. “If Your Lordships say that we may not challenge the order, then this order shall be the only order without a challenge in the history of the Constitution.”
On Monday, Sibal had mentioned the matter before Justice J Chelameshwar, who had asked him to return with the petition on Tuesday. However, late on Monday, the Constitution bench was formed to hear the plea on Tuesday.
The bench was headed by Justice AK Sikri, sixth in seniority among Supreme Court judges. Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, Arun Mishra and AK Goel were the other judges on the bench.
On Monday, Congress MPs Pratap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajnik had filed the petition, alleging that Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairperson Venkaiah Naidu’s decision to reject the motion was politically motivated.
On April 20, Opposition parties had submitted a notice to Naidu to initiate impeachment proceedings against Misra under five listed grounds of misbehaviour. The motion was signed by 71 parliamentarians.
On April 23, Naidu had rejected the notice. He said he had consideredeach of the five allegations against Misra “individually as well as collectively” and concluded that the notice did not “deserve to be admitted”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday accused the Congress of “forum shopping” and politicising the judiciary, PTI reported. “Is not this a case of case of forum shopping, trying to determine how a case should be heard, before which bench it should be heard,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.
The Congress, however, refuted the claims and said that the MPs had filed the petition to protect the dignity and independence of the courts.
The BJP also accused the Congress of indulging in hypocrisy while citing the “terrible happenings during the Emergency” PTI reported.