Explained: Impeachment of Judges and Discussion on the Conduct of Judges

April 21, 2018

 

Context:

  1. An impeachment motion was moved against CJI on grounds of ''misbehavior'' and levelled 5 charges against him.

 Procedure of Impeachment of Judges:

  1. The Constitution, along with the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968 and the Judges (Inquiry) Rules, 1969 provide for the impeachment procedure of Judges.

  2. Article 124(4) of the Constitution says, "A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour incapacity." 

  3. Step 1: A notice of motion for impeachment has to be provided to the presiding officer (Speaker/Chairman) with the signature of 100 MPs in Lok Sabha and 50 MPs in Rajya Sabha. 

  4. Step 2: The motion can either be accepted or rejected by the Speaker/Chairman of the House. If the motion is admitted, the Speaker or the Chairman of the House forms a three-member committee comprising a senior judge of the Supreme Court, a judge of the High Court and a distinguished jurist to investigate the charges. This committee would look into the alleged charges levelled against the Chief Justice of India.

  5. Step 3: If the three-member committee decides to support the motion, it is taken up for discussion in the House, where it had been introduced and must be passed by a special majority - which means it has to be supported by a majority of the total membership of that House not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting.

  6. Step 4: Once it is passed, it is taken up in the next House where again it needs to be passed by a special majority.

  7. Step 5: After the motion is passed through both the Houses with two-third majority, the President of India is approached to remove the Judge (CJI in this case).

Has any Judge ever got impeached?

  1. No, judge has been impeached till date. However, the proceedings have been initiated against several judges, starting with Justice Soumitra Sen, followed by Justice P.D. Dinakaran, J.B. Pardiwala, V. Ramaswami etc.

 Constitutional provision on discussion over the conduct of Judges:

  1. Article 121 of the Indian Constitution restricts any discussion with respect to conduct of any judge of the Supreme Court or of High Court in the discharge of his duties except upon a motion for presenting an address to the President praying for the removal of the Judge.

  2. This provision is to protect the independence of Judiciary. 

  3. So, although Constitution doesn't bar public statements by members of Parliament outside Parliament on the conduct of judges but to protect the independence of judiciary, public statements by Political parties should be avoided and any discussion should happen inside the Parliament in the manner provided under the Rules of Proceedings of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. 

     

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