Accusing the Congress of using impeachment as a political tool, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said it was a revenge petition to intimidate the judiciary following the Supreme Court’s verdict on Judge B.H. Loya’s death.
“It (impeachment motion) is a revenge petition after the falsehood of the Congress has been established in the Justice Loya death case,” he said in a Facebook post under the heading “Judge Loya Death Case – The One That Almost Created a Judicial Mutiny.”
His comments came after opposition leaders met Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu and submitted an impeachment motion for the removal of Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
“It is an attempt to intimidate a judge and send a message to other judges that if you don’t agree with us, 50 MPs are enough for a revenge action,” he said, adding that Congress and “its friends” had started using impeachment as a “political tool”.
The Minister said impeachment of a Supreme Court judge was to be done only in the case of either his incapacity or on proven misconduct.
“Trivialising the use of that power is a dangerous event… To use the power as intimidatory tactics when neither you have a case of ‘proven misconduct’ or the numbers on your side is a serious threat to judicial independence,” he said.
It was not difficult to collect 50 signatures of the Rajya Sabha or hundred signatures of the Lok Sabha members even on frivolous issues, he said, referring to the 71 MPs who signed the impeachment motion.
Jaitley said the judgement on Judge Loya exposed the conspiracy to generate falsehood as propaganda in the public and political space and alleged that there was connivance among some politicians, judges, lawyers and media.
“Never ever so blatantly in the past have national political parties, a few retired judges and some senior lawyers so closely identified themselves with the generation of falsehood that they almost come out as conspirators,” he said.
Jaitley said BJP President Amit Shah had no role in the Sohrabuddin case and that “the Caravan Magazine’s stories and investigations are a textbook example of fake news”.
The news website had reported about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Judge Loya in Nagpur in November 2014. Loya was hearing the alleged fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in Gujarat in 2005 in which now BJP President Amit Shah was an accused.
Holding that public interest crusaders had graduated into “institution disruptors” picking up false causes, Jaitley said the Congress through its lawyers was too willing to identify with these “institution disruptors” and thus intimidate courts.
“A divided court is finding itself helpless to respond to these initimidatory tactics,” he said.
Referring to the press conference in January where four senior judges of the Supreme Court virtually revolted against the Chief Justice over allocation of cases including Judge Loya’s case, Jaitley said a divided court was the single greatest threat to judicial independence.
“What has happened today is a price the Indian judiciary has to pay for misadventures of many. There is no better time for judicial statesmanship and political foresight,” he added.