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CJI impeachment notice: Kapil Sibal withdraws petition challenging Naidu’s decision

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New Delhi: Taking a U-turn, Congress member and Senior advocate Kapil Sibal withdrew his petition challenging Vice President Venkaiah Naidu’s decision of impeachment motion against CJI Justice Deepak Misra from Supreme Court of India.

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The plea was filed by two Congress Rajya Sabha-Member of Parliament Partap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajnik from Punjab and Gujarat respectively challenging the vice-president’s decision to nix the bid to impeach the Chief Justice.

Sibal, widely seen as the driving force behind the notice, sought a copy of the order alotting the case to the five-judge bench and argued that the CJI did not have power to allocate the matter to Constitution bench by an administrative order. He also said it was beyond the authority of the registrar concerned to list the matter directly before the five-judge bench. However, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for Naidu, said the CJI had the power to do so.

The Constitution bench constituted to hear the CJI impeachment petition didn’t include the four senior-most judges of the apex court who had publicly aired in January their grievances over how CJI Misra was running the court and allocating cases. The five-judge bench, led by Justice AK Sikri, comprised Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, Arun Mishra and AK Goel.

The court asked Sibal to argue on merits of the petition, but the Congress leader was adamant that he would first see the order and decide if it should be challenged or not. As the bench also stood its ground, Sibal said he was withdrawing the plea.

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On Monday, a two-judge bench comprising Justices Chelameswar and S Kaul asked the two Congress MPs to return on Tuesday with their petition challenging Naidu’s rejection of an opposition motion seeking the removal of the CJI. The petition contended that once a removal motion signed by MPs was submitted to the Rajya Sabha chairman, he had no option but to constitute an inquiry committee to look into the charges. However, the Justice Chelameswar referred to a Constitution Bench decision that said only the CJI had the authority to list cases before appropriate benches.

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