A petition by two Congress MPs against Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu’s rejection of an impeachment motion against Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra was withdrawn on Tuesday.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for the MPs, withdrew the petition after the five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice A.K. Sikri asked him to argue the main matter challenging Naidu’s order on merits.
They did not agree to his plea for a copy of the administrative order which led to the bench being set up on Monday.
Rajya Sabha members Pratap Singh Bajwa and Amee Yajnik had moved the top court challenging Chairman Naidu’s rejection in April of the notice of motion seeking the removal of Chief Justice Misra.
“You (want) to challenge that (administrative order setting up five-judge bench) for what outcome?” Justice Sikri asked Sibal, who told the bench: “You must say who passed the order. I must have the copy of the order so that I can challenge it.”
As Sibal argued that the matter could be referred to a Constitution Bench only by a judicial order and wondered how could it be done by an administrative order, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel asked if there was a bar on directly referring the matter to a five-judge bench by the latter process.
The bench, also comprising Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, reminded Sibal that at the outset of the hearing he had said that he has no personal agenda and was for upholding the dignity of the court.
“Will the dignity of the court be jeopardized if you give me that (administrative) order (constituting five judge bench). It is not a secret document under the National Security Act,” Sibal countered.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Rajya Sabha Chairman, said the Chief Justice had discretionary powers on the administrative side to allocate any matter to any bench of whatever strength.
Venugopal, who questioned the maintainability of the petition by the two Congress lawmakers, said the notice for the motion for the removal of Chief Justice Misra was moved by 64 MPs belonging to seven political parties including Congress but only two of the signatories had moved the court challenging the April 23 decision.
The Attorney General suggested: “Let 50 of the 64 MPs who had moved the notice of removal pass a resolution authorising Bajwa and Yajnik to move the court.”
Taking a jibe at Venugopal’s argument, Sibal asked why two people could not challenge the decision and asked him if the remaining 62 have told him that they did not support Bajwa and Yajnik.
“I will satisfy you. I will bring 60. You will be satisfied,” Sibal told Venugopal.