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The law on impeachment of judge

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The law on impeachment of judge

As many as 75 members of the Rajya Sabha, from BJP, Left Front, Samajwadi Party, JD(U), BJD, Shiv Sena, AGP and AIADMK, notwithstanding their political differences, submitted a joint notice of motion for the removal of Dinakaran. Justice Dinakaran is charged with possessing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income, acquisition of five housing board plots in favour of his wife and two daughters, benami transactions, possession of agricultural holdings in excess of the ceiling limit, illegal encroachment of public property “to deprive Dalits and poor of their right to livelihood”, “violation of human rights of Dalits and the poor”, destruction of evidence during underevaluation of properties” and illegal construction. The notice also charges him with “misuse of official position to unlawfully secure property and to facilitate other illegal acts for personal gain”. The Rajya Sabha Secretariat confirmed the receipt of the notice under Article 217 read with 124 (4) of the Constitution.

A member of the higher judiciary, which means the Judges and Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of India and the state High Courts, can be removed from service only through the process of impeachment under Article 124 (4) of the Constitution on grounds of proven misbehaviour or incapacity. In India, there is no other process by which a Judge can be removed from office before his term comes to an end. However, the process is very cumbersome. As per the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, a complaint against a Judge has to be made through a resolution either by 100 members of the Lok Sabha or 50 Rajya Sabha members. After the MPs submit a duly signed motion to this effect to their respective presiding officers — Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or Speaker of the Lok Sabha — the presiding officer constitutes a three-member committee comprising two Judges — one from the Supreme Court and one Chief Justice of a High Court if the complaint is against a HC Judge; and two Supreme Court Judges if the complaint is against a sitting Judge of the apex court — and a jurist to probe the complaint and determine if it is a case fit for initiating the process of impeachment. Some Congress MPs belonging to the Dalit community have alleged ‘caste bias’ behind the move to impeach Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran and are planning to mobilise Dalit MPs against the impeachment motion. They also plan to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi on this issue, even as the ruling party remains non-committal on its stance.