New Delhi: A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will hear a petition moved by two Congress MPs challenging the rejection of the 'impeachment' notice against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday.
The setting up of the constitution bench was mentioned in Tuesday's list of business for the apex court, PTI reported. The bench will be headed by Justice AK Sikri, number six in seniority. The other members are Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, Arun Mishra and AK Goel, who are next in the sequence of seniority.
The senior-most judges - Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph - have been kept out of the matter. These judges had held the controversial January 12, 2018, press conference in which they had virtually revolted against the CJI by raising a litany of allegations against him.
Congress MPs challenge the rejection of impeachment notice against CJI:
Two Rajya Sabha Congress MPs, Partap Singh Bajwa from Punjab and Amee Harshadray Yajnik from Gujarat, on Monday moved the SC challenging the rejection of the notice against Misra by Naidu, claiming that the reasons given were "wholly extraneous" and not legally tenable.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was one of the signatories to remove the CJI in the Rajya Sabha, mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar, the senior-most judge after Misra. While Justice Chelameswar initially asked him to mention the matter before the CJI, the bench, also comprising Justice SK Kaul, later asked Sibal and advocate Prashant Bhushan to "come back tomorrow".
Making his submissions, Sibal said that the Rajya Sabha chairman cannot summarily reject the notice bearing signatures of 64 MPs and seven former members who had recently retired, on the ground that there was "no proved misbehaviour", as per PTI.
The bench asked Sibal and Bhushan to mention the matter before the CJI for urgent listing by citing a constitution bench judgment on the powers of the master of the roster.
Justice Chelameswar, who was initially said to be reluctant to order listing of the petition said "there was a five-judge constitution bench verdict on powers of the master of the roster. It would be appropriate if you mention the matter in court number 1 before the bench of CJI".
Advancing his arguments, Sibal said "I am aware of the procedure but it can't be mentioned anywhere else. A person cannot be a judge in his own cause. I am just asking for urgent listing and not seeking any interim relief." He said the CJI cannot order for listing and hence the senior-most judge of the court must pass some orders as it was a matter of constitutional importance.
However, after the submissions, Justice Chelameswar and Justice Kaul went into a huddle and asked Sibal and Bhushan to come on Tuesday so they could take a call on the issue.
Naidu had on April 23, 2018, rejected the 'impeachment' notice given by seven Opposition parties led by the Congress on five grounds of "misbehaviour". This was the first time that a notice for the removal was filed against a sitting CJI.
(With PTI inputs)