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Procedure for removal of SC Chief Justice in India

Procedure for removal of SC Chief Justice in India

Background: Recently, Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu rejected the notice given by opposition parties for impeachment of the Chief Justice of India. This is for the second time that an impeachment process to remove the Chief Justice has been initiated. Justice V Ramaswami who was caught in controversy in 1993 for spending extravagantly on his official residence during his tenure in Punjab and Haryana.

Impeachment

The constitution lays down a rigorous process for a removal of a judge. The procedure to removal of judges of Supreme Court and High Courts can be initiated only on two grounds: Misbehaviour and Incapacity.

Constitutional Provision

Art 124 (4): “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.”

Judges Inquiry Act 1968 gives the procedure how it the inquiry should be conducted.

Procedure

  • For initiating the impeachment process, a motion has to be moved by either 100 Lok Sabha members or 50 Rajya Sabha MPs.
  • If the motion is admitted, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or Chairman of the Rajya Sabha will constitute an inquiry committee.
  • This inquiry committee will comprise three members — a Supreme Court judge, a high court chief justice and an eminent jurist.
  • The committee will frame charges and ask the judge to give a written response.
  • The judge also has the right to examine witnesses. After the inquiry, the committee will determine whether the charges are valid or not and then submits its report. 
  • If the inquiry committee finds that the judge is not guilty, then there is no further action.
  • If it finds him guilty, then the House of Parliament which initiated the motion, may consider continuing with the motion.
  • The motion will be then debated and the judge (or his representative) will have the right to represent his case. After that, the motion will voted upon.
  • If there is two-thirds support of those voting, and majority support of the total strength of the House, it will be considered to have been passed. The process will then repeated in the other House.
  • After that, the Houses will send an address to the President asking that the judge be removed from office.

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