Eminent jurists, ex-judges didn't find fault with Venkaiah Naidu's rejection of impeachment notice against CJI Dipak Misra
Soli Sorabjee and Fali Nariman were of the view that Congress-led opposition had no chance to succeed as issues raised in the impeachment notice against the CJI were not of "sufficient gravity".
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NEW DELHI: Eminent jurists like Soli Sorabjee and Fali Nariman and some ex-judges did not find fault with today's decision of Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu rejecting the impeachment notice against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra but there was a political divide among lawyers associated with various parties on the outcome.
Sorabjee and Nariman were of the view that Congress-led opposition had no chance to succeed as issues raised in the impeachment notice against the CJI were not of "sufficient gravity and rightly rejected" by Naidu.
Identical views were expressed by former Supreme Court judge P B Sawant and retired Delhi High Court judge S N Dhingra, who said Naidu must have found that the move was politically motivated and without any proof.
However, there was a political divide among lawyers associated with various parties over the Rajya Sabha Chairman's decision to reject the impeachment notice against the CJI, as they termed the move either as "most perfect" or "erroneous" and "astounding".
Immediately after the rejection order, Sorabjee said if the opposition moves the apex court to challenge the decision he did not see any success for them.
"I don't see chances of the writ petition (challenging the Naidu's decision) succeeding," he said when his reaction was sought.
Nariman on his part said Naidu, as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, was the only statutory authority to take the decision on the notice.
"He (Naidu) is the only statutory authority to take that decision and in my view he has rightly taken the decision. The grounds raised in the impeachment notice are not of sufficient gravity.
"When you have a man like the chief justice of the Supreme Court, it (impeachment notice) has to have something that is far more important than just saying he did not do this or that. The vice president has the statutory authority and he has rightly rejected the notice," Nariman told a news channel.
Sorabjee said, "The vice president has applied his mind. He has consulted legal experts and has come to a decision. We did not want the matter hanging indefinitely".
"He (Naidu) has gone into the matter and found no merit in it and no ground for impeachment. Therefore, he rejected it," Sorabjee said.
The views of Sorabjee and Nariman was shared by Justice P B Sawant, who was a judge in the Supreme Court from 1989-1995 and Justice S N Dhingra, former judge of the Delhi High Court.
While Justice Sawant said the decision was "okay" as Naidu must have taken opinion of the people concerned, former Delhi High Court judge Justice S N Dhingra termed it "absolutely right" saying there was no proof of the charges levelled against the CJI.
"I am sure he (Naidu) must have taken the opinions of various people. It looks like a political move to me. Congress is definitely going to go to the Supreme Court if it is a political move. As the head of Rajya Sabha, he must have taken opinion of the people. Presently it seems okay to me," Justice Sawant said.
Justice Dhingra, too, supported Naidu's order on impeachment and said, "Rejection was absolutely right and based on facts. No other conclusion could have been reached. There was no proof of charges which were levelled. Prima facie, no case was made out."
However, there was apparent difference of opinion between advocates who are affiliated with political parties.
While senior advocate and Congress MP K T S Tulsi criticised the Vice President's decision saying it was a serious matter and corruption could not be allowed to grow in the judiciary, senior lawyer and BJP leader Aman Sinha said the notice was rightly rejected with "sound legal reasoning".
"After dealing with all five charges individually, the Rajya Sabha chairman has come to a conclusion that they hold no legal merit. They are unsustainable and unjustifiable and therefore the notice for impeachment has been rightly rejected by him on very sound legal reasoning and cogent legal grounds," Sinha said and blamed the Congress for trying to "intimidate the judiciary" by moving the notice.
"As far as the impeachment motion is concerned, it was known that it would be defeated. The only aim of the Congress was to intimidate the judiciary and put the integrity of the Supreme Court under cloud," he said.
Activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who is in the forefront of leading the campaign against the CJI, said the decision was "unconstitutional" and "political" to protect the CJI.
But Bar Council of India chairman, Manan Kumar Mishra, said it was the "most perfect" decision that has made all "sensitive people" in the country happy.
Opposing Mishra's view, Bhushan, who is the founding member of political outfit Swaraj Abhiyan, mostly comprising leaders who defected from the Aam Admi Party, said "it is very astounding that the Vice President decided to reject such a serious impeachment motion signed by 64 MPs of Rajya Sabha containing five very serious charges of misbehavior.
"The RS chairman only has to see if the notice was signed by requisite number of people and whether these charges on the face of it amount to misbehavior or not. He has no business to go into the merits of the charges. That's for the enquiry committee to decide.
"This has clearly been done at the behest of the government and totally illegal and unconstitutional and malafide and hope it will be challenged by the MPs. It is a political decision to protect the CJI," Bhushan said.