New Delhi: Hours after two Congress MPs moved the Supreme Court on Monday challenging Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairperson Venkaiah Naidu’s rejection of an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, a five-judge Constitution bench was set up to hear the petition. Who constituted the bench was not clear since the case is against the CJI, though he is the master of roster.
The bench comprising justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel will hear the matter on Tuesday. Curiously, none of the four seniormost judges, who addressed the unprecedented January 12 press conference flagging problems in the allocation of cases in the Supreme Court, was included in the bench. The big four who were left out are justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
Justice Sikri, who heads the bench, is number six in seniority, and others follow him in the sequence of seniority. The sudden development came after the matter was mentioned before Justice Jasti Chelameswar, who said he would take a call on Tuesday on whether or not the petition ought to be listed.
In their petition, Congress MPs Pratap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajnik claimed Naidu’s order was “motivated by political consideration beyond the constitutional scheme”.
The day began with senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioning it before Justice Chelameswar’s bench, saying since it relates to CJI Misra, he couldn’t mention it before the first bench. “The manner in which the Vice President rejected the notice for impeachment raises serious constitutional issues,” Sibal said.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan said in the given circumstances, CJI Misra cannot even direct the registrar when and where to list this matter. “Rules are not conclusive anymore, we are not sure,” Justice Chelameswar said.
At this, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, who shared the bench with Justice Chelameswar, told Sibal and Bhushan that the matter of listing the petition was not so simple.