File photo of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Photograph:( PTI )
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu has rejected the impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
"I have applied my mind to all five charges made out in impeachment motion and examined all annexed documents. All facts as stated in motion don't make out a case which can lead any reasonable mind to conclude that CJI on these facts can be ever held guilty of misbehavior," ANI reported Naidu as saying.
Seven opposition parties led by the Congress had on Friday initiated an unprecedented step for the impeachment of the CJI, moving a notice accusing him of "misbehaviour" and "misuse" of authority.
Apart from the Congress, the group consisted of the CPI(M), CPI, NCP, SP, BSP and the Muslim League.
Naidu said the motion lacked substantial merit and that the allegations were neither "tenable nor admissible".
The vice president in his order held that that the allegations emerging from the present case have a serious tendency of "undermining" the independence of the judiciary.
Naidu based his decision on the opinion of top legal and constitutional experts, including former secretary generals of Lok Sabha and other legal luminaries with whom he held extensive consultations.
He also held the views of top legal and constitutional experts, including former chief justices and judges, before taking the decision, sources said.
"This is a really important matter. We don't know what was the reason for the rejection. Congress and other opposition parties will talk to some legal experts and take the next step," ANI reported the Congress' PL Punia as saying on Monday.
The Congress had on Sunday said Misra should consider recusing himself from performing judicial and administrative work till he was cleared of allegations of misconduct.
The Congress also attacked the BJP for coming out in "defence" of the CJI and said the ruling party was compromising the position and office of the chief justice as the neutral arbitrator and head of the judiciary.
The party was doing great a disservice to the independence of the judicial system, it said.
"The CJI must come out and tell the BJP not to politicise his office," Congress leader Randeep Surjewala told reporters here.
He further said the CJI did not belong to any political party and questioned why he had to be defended by members and ministers of the ruling BJP.
The Chief Justice of India should be above suspicion, Surjewala said, adding that if CJI Misra's conduct had come under a cloud, he should consider recusing himself from performing his judicial and administrative duties.
"Caesar's wife must be above suspicion. And that's why we left it to his (CJI) conscience. If his own conduct is under a cloud, should he not consider recusing himself from performing judicial and administrative duties and submit himself to the inquiry so that the high office and his individual integrity are cleared?" Surjewala asked.
This will ensure that the process of law is followed in an appropriate manner, the Congress leader added.
Further attacking the BJP over the issue, another Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha wondered how the BJP could relate the CJI to Odisha.
He is the chief justice of the entire nation and belongs to the entire country, Tankha said.
Tankha, who is also an advocate, said as an MP, he was confident that the Rajya Sabha chairman would take an appropriate decision on the matter under the provisions of the Constitution.
"The country and citizens are looking for answers. And until then I feel the CJI should voluntarily submit himself for the inquiry," he said.
Speaking at the same press conference, senior advocate and nominated Rajya Sabha member K T S Tulsi said people took great pride in the integrity of judges.
But if there was even the slightest suspicion, it became the duty of Parliament to take note of that, he said.
"As MPs we are performing our duty with a very heavy heart but it is in the interest of the nation and interest of democracy that the inquiry should be held. And if no inquiry is held it would do much greater damage to the Supreme Court of the country," he added.
(With inputs from PTI)