Delhi: The handling of the contentious case pertaining to a Lucknow-based trust that runs a medical college, the alleged “misuse of authority” as Master of the Roster and a charge relating to acquiring of a piece of land are among the issues cited in a notice of impeachment against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra for “misbehaviour”.
The seven parties, including the Congress, that moved the impeachment notice against Misra, listed out five counts of “misbehaviour” which include a charge that the CJI brought a piece of land by filing an affidavit later found to be “false” and he returned the plot only in 2012 after he was elevated even though the same was cancelled in 1985.
Addressing a press conference, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the notice has cited a “conspiracy to pay illegal gratification” in the Prasad Education Trust case and the denial of permission to proceed against a retired high court judge in the same matter.
The former law minister said it is on record that the CBI has registered an FIR in the case and there are several recorded conversations between middlemen including a retired judge of the Orissa High Court, excerpts of transcripts of which are set out in the articles of charge.
“References to the Chief Justice by innuendo in these conversations are evident,” he said, adding that the denial of permission to the CBI to register an FIR against Justice Narayan Shukla of the Allahabad High Court, when the CBI shared incriminating information with the Chief Justice “was itself an act of misbehaviour”.
“All this requires a thorough investigation,” Sibal demanded. Another charge is of listing the petition against the Prasad Education Trust before himself, even when he was heading the Constitution bench, Sinbal said, adding doing so was against the convention.
Sibal said the second charge relates to the Chief Justice having dealt on the administrative as well as on the judicial side with a writ petition which sought an investigation into the matter of Prasad Education Trust, in which he too was likely to fall within the scope of investigation.
He said the allegations include the “serious charge” of “antedating” (backdating) of an order for listing of a petition related to the investigation against the Prasad Education Trust in the Supreme Court.”The charge of antedating is by all accounts a very serious charge,” he said.
The fourth charge pertains to a piece of land which Misra acquired as an advocate by giving a “false affidavit” and the plot was surrendered in 2012 when he was elevated to the Supreme Court, even though orders cancelling the allotment were given in 1985, Sibal said.
The fifth charge relates to “the abuse of exercise of power by the Chief Justice in choosing to send sensitive matters to particular benches by misusing his authority as Master of the Roster with the likely intent to influence the outcome”.
“As representatives of the people, we are entitled to hold the Chief Justice accountable just as we are accountable to the people. The majesty of the law is more important than the majesty of any office.
“We hope that a thorough enquiry will be held so that truth alone triumphs. Democracy can thrive only when our judiciary stands firm, independent of the executive, and discharges its constitutional functions honestly, fearlessly and with an even hand,” Sibal told reporters.
Sibal said the charges as stated “suggest conduct unbecoming of a person” holding the office of the Chief Justice of India.
“We took upon ourselves to move the impeachment motion in the background set out above but on the basis of charges of acts of misbehaviour that are set out in the impeachment motion. We do not wish to repeat those charges here in detail.
“We only wish to state that anyone occupying the office of the Chief Justice of India must be judged on the basis of the highest standards of integrity,” he said, demanding an inquiry against the CJI under the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968.