Impeaching the Chief Justice of India (Important)

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In unprecedented move, 7 opposition parties submitted notice to Rajya Sabha Chairman requesting impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. There were six previous instances when this was done.

Six Previous Instances

Procedure to Impeach Chief Justice of India

  • Constitution lays down procedure for removal of judge of Supreme Court, which is applicable in case of Chief Justice of India as well.
  • Chief Justice of India remains in office until age of 65 years, unless he or she is impeached on grounds of misbehavior or incapacity.
  • Constitution, along w/Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968 & Judges (Inquiry) Rules, 1969, provides for entire process of Impeachment.
  • Article 124 (4) of Constitution says: “Judge of Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by order of President passed after address by each House of Parliament supported by majority of total membership of that House & by majority of not less than 2 ⁄ 3rdof members of that House present & voting is presented to President in same session for such removal on ground of proved misbehaviour incapacity.”
  • The process is stated when
    • At least 100 members of Lok Sabha may give signed notice to Speaker
    • At least 50 members of Rajya Sabha may give signed notice to Chairman
  • Speaker or Chairman may consult individuals & examine relevant material related to notice. Based on this, he or she may decide to either admit motion or refuse to admit it.
  • If motion is admitted, Speaker or Chairman (who receives it) will constitute 3-member committee to investigate complaint. It will comprise:
    • Supreme Court judge
    • Chief Justice of High Court
    • Distinguished jurist
  • Committee will frame charges based on which investigation will be conducted.
  • Copy of charges will be forwarded to judge who can present written defence.
  • After concluding its investigation, committee will submit its report to Speaker or Chairman, who will then lay report before relevant House of Parliament.
  • If report records finding of misbehaviour or incapacity, motion for removal will be taken up for consideration & debated.
  • Motion for removal is required to be adopted by each House of Parliament by
    • Majority of total membership of that House,
    • Majority of at least 2 ⁄ 3rd of members of that House present & voting.
  • If motion is adopted by this majority, motion will be sent to other House for adoption.
  • Once motion is adopted in both Houses, it is sent to President, who will then issue an order for removal of judge.

What is Impeachment?

  • Impeach means to charge someone w/doing something wrong, specifically high govt. official.
  • Impeach comes from Latin impedicare ″ catch, entangle.
  • Impeachment is process by which legislative body formally levels charges against high official of govt.
  • It is only formal statement of charges, akin to indictment in criminal law, & is only 1st step towards removal.
  • Impeachment was 1st used in British political system.
  • In India president, judges including chief justice of Supreme Court & high courts can be impeached by parliament before expiry of term for violation of Constitution.
  • Other than impeachment, no other penalty can be given to president in position for violation of Constitution under Article 361 of constitution.
  • President in position cannot be charged & needs to step down in order for that to happen.

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