The Congress party has damaged the judiciary on several occasions in the past. It began with Indira Gandhi’s demand for a committed judiciary. She had elevated Justice AN Ray as CJI without respecting the seniority principle in 1973. While placing politics over national interest, Congress party had abstained in a motion to impeach a judge found guilty of corruption in 1993.
Congress abstains from voting during Justice Ramaswami’s impeachment
The first judge against whom an impeachment motion was initiated, was Justice V Ramaswami, a judge in the Supreme Court of India. In 1990, a scandal regarding his extravagant expenditure of public funds had surfaced. The impeachment motion was accepted in March 1991. The independent committee constituted to investigate him found him guilty. The committee consisting of Justice PB Sawant, in its report said :
“guilty of willful and gross misuse of office, purposeful and persistent negligence in the discharge of duties, intentional and habitual extravagance at the cost of the public exchequer, moral turpitude by using public funds for private purposes in diverse ways and reckless disregard of statutory rules and brings disrepute to the high judicial office and dishonor to the institution of the judiciary and undermines the faith and confidence which the public reposes in the administration of justice”
Removal motion was moved in the Parliament in May 1993. 196 MPs of the opposition voted for removal of the guilty judge. But the Congress party, which had 205 members in the house abstained. The lawyer who defended the guilty judge was none other than Kapil Sibal. At that time, the Prime Minister was Narasimha Rao and the Lok Sabha speaker was Rabi Ray.
Congress trying to malign CJI while providing tacit support to left parties
The Congress party had no problem when D Raja of the CPI met Justice Chelameshwar. When Principle secretary to the PM met CJI Dipak Misra, the Congress spokesperson said that the ‘PM must answer the reason for sending this special messenger to Chief Justice of India.’
The Congress party and its president Rahul Gandhi had been sympathetic to revolting justices as they had used a political tone supporting the ‘democracy in danger’ propaganda. Rahul Gandhi had said : “They (the judges) mentioned that there is a threat to democracy. It needs to be looked into carefully.” This indicates , the party is striving hard to maintain a clean image while maligning CJI Misra implicitly.
Left parties initiate ‘discussion’ with left parties on impeaching CJI
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said that he was in talks to move impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra. Yechury has been fighting hard within his party for an open alliance with the Congress.
Since minimum of 50 members are enough to initiate impeachment proceeding in Rajya Sabha the opposition parties may succeed in bringing the proceedings to the house. The next step will be the constitution of a three member committee to investigate the charges. If that happens, the report of the committee will be placed before both the houses for voting. 2/3rd majority in both houses for voting would be required.
Will better sense prevail over Congress?
Congress party has often been accused of assisting corrupt officials and businessmen. In the case of Justice V Ramaswami, it also gained the dubious distinction of tacitly supporting a corrupt judge as well. It may now play the role in undermining the office of an honest Chief Justice of India along with the left parties.
Since the crucial Ram Mandir case is listed for hearing in February, the Congress may try to achieve its political objectives by trying to defame the institution that will pass verdict on the issue. This time it might be conspiring with the left parties in this endeavor.Will better sense prevail over the Congress? We need to wait and watch.