SIBAL WITHDRAWS PLEA AGAINST V-P CALL: Battle to continueby Opinion Express May 9, 2018 0 comments
After the impeachment notice against Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra moved by 64 Opposition MPs failed to go through in the Rajya Sabha, there was an unexpected turn of events in Supreme Court on Tuesday. Two Congress Parliamentarians, who had challenged the decision of the RS Chairman, withdrew their petition after the court did not allow their counsel Kapil Sibal to see the order that listed their petition before a five-judge Constitution Bench.
A Bench of Justices Arjan K Sikri, Sharad Arvind Bobde, NV Ramana, Arun Mishra and Adarsh K Goel, who came prepared to hear the case on questions of law, were taken aback after Sibal sought to see the order constituting the Bench for hearing this case.
Sibal said his advocate on record was informed at 10.29 am (a minute to go before hearing of the case) by the Registry about the matter being listed before a five-judge Bench. Although the list was out late on Monday evening, Sibal wondered if the listing of the case was an administrative order and if so, who passed it. He dropped hints that he intended to challenge this decision if the CJI had passed the order constituting the Bench and listing the case before it.
However, the Bench said, “We should deal with the merits of the case. What purpose will be served by going into this aspect? It will lead us nowhere.”
Sibal assured the Bench that he was not acting with any malice or agenda but to keep the dignity of the institution high and process of law pure. In his view, the matter could travel to a Constitution Bench only by way of a judicial order. He questioned whether the power exercised by the CJI as master of roster was “untrammeled” that such orders could enjoy immunity from judicial scrutiny.
Anticipating a high voltage hearing, the courtroom was jam-packed with lawyers and mediapersons. The hearing was punctuated by objections raised on Sibal’s appearance in the case. Lawyer RP Luthra accused Sibal of pursuing an agenda against judiciary by first signing the motion of removal against the CJI as a Member of Parliament and later arguing it as a lawyer. Another lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay too raised protest by citing a Bar Council of India resolution condemning such a practice.
The Bench said, “If he (Sibal) appears in violation of your Resolution, you are free to take action against him. But you can’t restrain somebody from arguing unless there is an order that restrains him.”
At one point, Sibal submitted that if the Bench felt that he should not appear, he will withdraw. The Bench said, “We leave it to you,” following which Sibal proceeded with his arguments.
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court that the petition was not fit to be heard as out of the seven political parties and 64 MPs who moved the removal motion, only 2 MPs had approached court raising doubts whether the other MPs had accepted the Chairman’s order. Sibal replied by saying such an argument has no foundation in law. He offered to bring 60 petitions to court, if this argument was to be accepted.
The Bench finally asked Sibal if he was willing to continue arguments on merits. But Sibal being adamant to be supplied the administrative order first, chose to withdraw the petition and the Bench ordered accordingly.
By Abraham Thomas: Courtesy – The Pioneer