After Vice President Venkaiah Naidu controversially rejected the removal motion against CJI Dipak Misra, two Rajya Sabha MPs from Congress party moved the Supreme Court challenging the former's decision. The other members are justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and A K Goel, who are next in the sequence of seniority. Justice Sikri is judge number six in the Supreme Court.
It is significant that the matter has not been listed before the judges who are number two to five in the seniority. However, Justice Chelameswar said that since it is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who is the master of the roster, the case must be mentioned before him.
This sudden development comes after the matter was mentioned today before Justice Jasti Chelameswar.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal and lawyer Prashant Bhushan requested the bench at 10.30am, barely 10 minutes after the petition was filed in the SC, for an urgent hearing.
Sub-Section 1 of Section 3 of the Judges Inquiry Act says: "The Speaker or, as the case may be, the Chairman may, after consulting such persons, if any, as he thinks fit and after considering such materials, if any, as may be available to him, either admit the motion or refuse to admit the same".
Advocate Bhushan, who appeared along with Sibal, said according to rules, the CJI is disabled to pass any order and only the senior-most judge can decide on the listing of the petition. Said Sibal: "I'm not asking for a relief, I'm just asking for a listing".
The setting up of the constitution bench was mentioned in Tuesday's list of business for the apex court, PTI reported.
"Having considered the material contained in the notice of motion and reflected upon the inputs received in my interaction with legal luminaries and constitutional experts, I am of the firm opinion that the notice of the motion does not deserve to be admitted".
It also said the reasons given by Naidu while rejecting the impeachment notice were "not legally tenable" and deserved to be set aside for being "wholly extraneous" and ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution and the Inquiry Act.
"The impugned order proceeds on an erroneous assumption in law that the chairman/speaker, exercises quasi-judicial powers to determine whether to admit or not to admit a notice of motion and whether to constitute the aforesaid committee", stated the plea.
Arguing that the charges made in the notice of motion were extremely serious, the two MPs sought that their veracity be tested through a full-fledged inquiry and not be adjudicated in "a whimsical manner" as Naidu's order sought to do.