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.
64 lawmakers from seven Opposition parties - including the Congress - submitted the impeachment motion to Vice-President (and Rajya Sabha chairman) Venkaiah Naidu last month.
The bench does not include the five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court - Justices Jasti Chelameshwar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph, and Chief Justice Misra himself.
The issue was raised at the start of the court's work in the morning when Sibal, one of the signatories to the impeachment notice in Rajya Sabha, mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a bench headed by justice Chelameswar, the senior-most after CJI Misra.
Justice Chelameswar told Sibal that following a recent Constitution Bench decision, CJI is the master of roster and he alone has the power to list any case. The other four members on the bench are Justices S.A. Bobde, N.V. Ramana, Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel.
"I am of the view that it is imperative that we should have extraordinary, important and substantial grounds for the removal of a judge", he said.
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The bench will be headed by justice A K Sikri, number six in seniority.
This is the first time that a petition has been filed challenging the rejection of removal motion by Rajya Sabha Chairman. Sibal had said that this writ could not be mentioned anywhere else. A person can not be a judge in his own cause.
Justice Chelameswar asked Sibal to appear before him at 10.30am Tuesday.
The petition said Mr. Naidu acted like a quasi-judicial authority, assuming the mantle of the inquiry committee and dismissing the motion on merits. "It would be appropriate if you mention the matter in court number-1 before the bench of chief justice".
It was also stated that if Naidu's order were to be accepted as legally correct, it would be tantamount to having a two- stage adjudicatory process with regard to a notice of motion filed under the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968. According to reports, Naidu held extensive consultations with top legal and constitutional experts, including former chief justices and judges, before taking the decision.
Arguing that the charges made in the notice of motion were extremely serious, the two MPs sought that their veracity be tested through a full-fledged inquiry and not be adjudicated in "a whimsical manner" as Naidu's order sought to do.