The opposition has been going hammer and tongs against the Chief Justice of India, Deepak Misra. They had forwarded an impeachment motion signed by 63 members of parliament in a bid to start the process of impeaching the CJI. However, the Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu, has rejected the opposition’s motion.
To this, the Congress party and its allies expressed shock and dismay. They wondered how the Vice President could reject the impeachment motion when they had the requisite number of signatures signifying the number of MPs who support the impeachment motion.
This entire campaign has also been spearheaded by Kapil Sibal, senior Congress leader and lawyer. Kapil Sibal has also proclaimed that he will not appear in front of the CJI till the process is over. He reportedly told The Indian Express, “I will not appear in the Chief Justice’s court from tomorrow onwards… till he retires, because that is consistent with the highest standards of my profession.”
He has reportedly also said, “He (Naidu) has no jurisdiction. He cannot decide on the merits of the motion. He can only decide on the procedure. So the provision in the Judges (Inquiry) Act for him to either dismiss or admit, relates to only whether 50 members have signed, their signatures are there and motion is in order. He is to refer that matter to the Judges (Inquiry) Committee for a decision on the merits. He has no role to play as far as the merits are concerned… He can’t dismiss it. It’s not permissible under the Constitution. He can dismiss it provided 50 members are not there, provided the charges are inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution. But otherwise, he cannot. He cannot say this is not enough. He is not a quasi-judicial authority to decide on the motion. That’s for the Judges (Inquiry) Act,”
Interestingly, a 2010 video has surfaced, where Kapil Sibal in an interview to NDTV is heard saying exactly the opposite.
In the video, Kapil Sibal is seen disagreeing the with the impeachment motion of judges in India. He termed it improper. He had said that politicians should not be involved at all in a Judge’s impeachment. In the show, Mahesh Jethmalani asked Kapil a question. He asked that once, Kapil Sibal had defended Justice Ramaswamy in the floor of the house. He asked whether Sibal had examined the case of Justice Dinkaran and whether he thinks that Justice Dinkaran prima facie has a defensible case at all.
Sibal said, that he has a big problem with the process of impeachment since political parties issue whips. He said that the entire process goes against principles of fairness. He says he doesn’t agree with the procedure for impeachment at all and that politicians should in no way be involved in such proceedings. He says there needs to be a national debate on whether the parliament should be involved at all.
Interestingly, he vehemently disagreed with political parties in opposition “getting x number of signatures’ and proclaiming the “guy guilty”. He said he disagrees with opposition parties saying that just since 50 MPs have signed the motion, the Judge to be impeached is guilty.
He says that in this case, all the parties that have signed the motion will issue whips. So whether others agree with the motion or not, they will have to vote for the motion.
This hypocrisy was noticed by scientist and commentator, Anand Ranganathan as well who had commented on the change of stand using this video.
Kapil Sibal now: We as opposition political parties have signatures of 50 MPs and therefore we forward the Impeachment motion.
Kapil Sibal then: This idea of opposition political parties collecting signatures of 50 MPs for forwarding an Impeachment motion is bullshit. pic.twitter.com/QO6kBS2INm
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) April 23, 2018
In it indeed ironic that Kapil Sibal, his party and his party’s allies are now doing exactly the same thing that Sibal stood against. It is interesting to note, that in the Justice Ramaswami impeachment proceedings of 1993, the Congress party had actually saved a corrupt judge. Today, the Congress seems to be going after an honest one, who has no case of misconduct proven against him, probably because he is hearing certain cases that are likely to go against the party and the dynasty.
At the end of the interview, Kapil Sibal asked, “what sort of a system is this”.
Perhaps it is time for the people of this country to ask the Congress party, “what sort of a system is this?”