Removal of Supreme Court and High Court Judges
Judiciary is an imperative organ of any country holding immense power. Thus we can correctly say that with immense powers come huge responsibilities. Thus the Judiciary is encumbered with a number of responsibilities and to carry out its responsibilities, it is important that efficient judges are appointed to the post. But in many situations, corruption in the decision-making process appears to be inevitable. Thus it is very well evident that the much-discussed independence is getting eroded. To curb such instances, judiciary staff at every level must be appointed responsibly and in case one fails to perform one’s duties with diligence, one should be removed.
Removal of Judges of Supreme Court
The provisions of our Constitution related to the Removal of Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts are inadequate and ineffective as per opinion of the right thinking citizens and the large majority of electorate. Currently, Article 124(4) and (5) talk about the Removal procedure of the Judges of Supreme Court.
It states that a Judge of the Supreme Court can only be removed from office by an Order by the President passed after an address by each House of the Parliament. The Order must be supported by a majority of the total membership of the House and by a majority of not less than 2/3 of the members present and voting in the House. Thereafter the Order is presented before the President in the same session for removal of the judge on the “grounds of misbehavior or incapacity”.
It states that the Parliament with the assistance of law may regulate the Procedure for the presentation of the Address of impeachment process or the investigation and proof of misbehavior.
Removal of Judges of High Court
This article has all the provisions similar to those mentioned in Causes (4) and (5) of the Article 124 except for the fact that references to Supreme Court are substituted by references to the High Courts.
This impeachment procedure which is initiated against the judge on ground of misbehavior in the Parliament is usually preceded by an investigation in accordance with the provisions laid down in the Judges (Inquiry) Act 1968. A basic rule of Impeachment states that a judge can be tried only for misbehavior during his tenure and disciplinary proceedings can take place only on proven misbehavior. This is too comprehensive an expression and if left undefined, it can unknowingly grant license to regular misbehavior of various grades leading to distortion of norms rendering the institution useless for constitutional purposes.
Impeachment of Judges Till Date
Till date, six judges have faced impeachment the most recent being the proceedings against Justice Dipak Misra. But surprisingly till date no judge has been impeached.
1)Justice V. Ramaswami
Justice Ramaswami is distinguished as being the first judge against whom impeachment proceedings were initiated. He was accused of spending extravagantly on his official residence while holding office of the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana Court during 1990s. The impeachment was brought up in the Lok Sabha in 1993 but it failed to acquire 2/3 majority.
2.) Soumitra Sen
In 2011, Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court was subjected to the impeachment proceedings as he was found guilty of embezzlement of funds up to Rs.33.23 lakh under his custody as a court-appointed receiver in the capacity of a lawyer and misrepresentation of facts in a 1983 case. The motion was initiated in the Rajya Sabha but before it could be passed, Justice Sen submitted his resignation.
3) D Dinakaran
Justice Dinakaran was alleged to be involved in corruption, land-grab and abuse of judicial office during his tenure as Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court. In July 2011, Justice Dinakaran resigned before impeachment proceedings could be initiated against him.
4) B Pardiwala
Impeachment proceedings were initiated in the Rajya Sabha against Justice Pardiwala in 2015 during his tenure as Judge of Gujarat High Court. He was charged for giving out objectionable comments on the issue of reservation for SCs and STs while giving his ruling against Hardik Patel.
5) V Nagarjuna Reddy
Impeachment proceedings were initiated in Rajya Sabha in 2017 against Justice Reddy for interfering in the judicial process in several cases; and caste slurs during his tenure as a Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
6) Chief Justice Dipak Misra
This can be said to be the most controversial impeachment process as it was initiated against the Chief Justice of India. The Opposition had initiated the impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice by collecting signatures of the MPs of various Opposition Parties.
Four top level Supreme Court judges in a press conference scheduled on 11th January 2018 made complaints against Justice Dipak Misra on grounds of Administrative and Judicial Irregularities in the Supreme Court. Moreover Justice Misra was alleged to be involved in the Prasad Education Trust case for surreptitiously permitting the Institution to acquire the lands; and also in the Justice Loya Death Case as exposed by the 4 judges.
Procedure of Impeachment of Chief Justice of India
- To initiate an impeachment motion against the CJI, signatures of 100 Members of Lok Sabha and 50 Members of Rajya Sabha are required and the motion can be initiated in either House of the Parliament;
- After the motion is introduced, the Speaker of either the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha decides whether to accept it or not;
- In case, the motion is accepted, a 3 member committee is formed which would consist of a judge of the Supreme Court , a judge of the High Court and a notable jurist to investigate the charges;
- If the motion is supported by the 3 member committee, the proposal would be further discussed in the Parliament and the impeachment process can be passed only if it is supported by 100 Lok Sabha MPs and 50 Rajya Sabha MPs.
- After gaining 2/3 majority of both houses of the Parliament, the motion is finally passed by the President.
The Impeachment process can be inferred to be a lengthy and cumbersome process and with the number of judges in High Courts and Supreme Court touching a 4 digit figure, a new simple fool proof mechanism is needed to work out and replace the above lofty purpose.