Impeachment of Chief Justice of India

The Opposition is mulling moving an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra. In this background let’s discuss about how the CJI of India be impeached. What is the procedure to impeach/remove the CJI from his office.

Procedure for Removal of Judges of Supreme Court

A judge of the Supreme Court can be removed from his Office by an order of the president. The President can issue the removal order only after an address by Parliament has been presented to him in the same session for such removal. The address must be supported by a special majority of each House of Parliament (ie, a majority of the total membership of that House and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting). The grounds of removal are two—proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

The Judges Enquiry Act (1968) regulates the procedure relating to the removal of a judge of the Supreme Court by the process of impeachment:

1. A removal motion signed by 100 members (in the case of Lok Sabha) or 50 members (in the case of Rajya Sabha) is to be given to the Speaker/Chairman.

2. The Speaker/Chairman may admit the motion or refuse to admit it.

3. If it is admitted, then the Speaker/Chairman is to constitute a three-member committee to investigate into the charges.

4. The committee should consist of (a) the chief justice or a judge of the Supreme Court, (b) a chief justice of a high court, and (c) a distinguished jurist.

5. If the committee finds the judge to be guilty of misbehaviour or suffering from an incapacity, the House can take up the consideration of the motion.

6. After the motion is passed by each House of Parliament by special majority, an address is presented to the president for removal of the judge.

7. Finally, the president passes an order removing the judge.

It is interesting to know that no judge of the Supreme Court has been impeached so far. The first and the only case of impeachment is that of Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court (1991–1993). Though the enquiry Committee found him guilty of misbehaviour, he could not be removed as the impeachment motion was defeated in the Lok Sabha. The Congress Party abstained from voting.

Previous Instances of Impeachment

1. Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court was the first judge against whom impeachment proceedings were taken up by Parliament. He was accused of lavish expenditure on his official residence during his tenure as the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana. The three-member committee appointed by the Lok Sabha Speaker found him guilty. The Lok Sabha took up the impeachment motion, but couldn’t muster the requisite majority as the Congress and some smaller parties abstained.

2. Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court was accused of corruption that dated back to 1993. In 2009, 59 MPs signed the impeachment motion. A committee was set up, which found him guilty and the Rajya Sabha passed the motion in August 2011. The Lok Sabha was scheduled to discuss the motion on September 5 and 6, 2011, but he resigned on September 1.

3. Justice Paul Daniel Dinakaran Premkumar, a Karnataka High Court judge, faced allegations of corruption. The Rajya Sabha Chairman formed a committee in January 2010 to examine the charges. The judge resigned on July 29, 2011, but registered his lack of confidence in the committee.

Sources and Recerences:
1. Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth
2. Business Standard

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