New Delhi, April 24 (PTI): Facing criticism over his decision to reject an impeachment bid against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday told a group of lawyers that his call was “timely and not a hasty one” and came after over a month of due diligence.
“Freedom of expression allows that but ultimately truth prevails. I have done the just thing in the best possible manner expected of me,” a source quoted Naidu as saying on his decision having been termed by some as “hasty”.
Naidu said his decision was in strict conformity with the provisions of the Constitution and the Judges (Inquiry) Act of 1968.
“I have done my job and am satisfied with it… It (decision) was timely and not a hasty one,” Naidu told the group of 10 Supreme Court lawyers who met him to compliment him over the decision.
Naidu, however, told the lawyers that his decision did not warrant any compliment as he only did what was expected of him and in the manner the chairman of Rajya Sabha was expected to conduct in such matters.
Naidu on Monday rejected a notice by seven opposition parties, led by the Congress, to impeach the Chief Justice of India on five grounds of “misbehaviour”, saying the allegations were neither “tenable nor admissible”.
His order, which came within two days of the notice being submitted to him, was slammed as “hasty, illegal and ill-informed” by the Congress.
During their meeting with Naidu, lawyers also mentioned that in the past a similar notice against Supreme Court Judge J C Shah was rejected by the then Lok Sabha speaker G S Dhillon and Justice Shah later became the CJI. And a notice for removal of Justice P D Dinakaran was admitted within three days.
Speaking to the lawyers, Naidu is believed to have said that he has been working on “provisions, procedures and precedents in the matter” for over a month following media reports about a possible impeachment bid.
“Some members of the House had a point of view and the right to express it while I had a responsibility cast on me. I have done my job and am satisfied with it,” Naidu said.
He further said the Section 3 of the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968 requires that the Rajya Sabha chairman should look for prima facie charges in the matter for either admitting the notice or refusing to do so.
“A clear responsibility was cast on the chairman in this regard and it would not be correct to interpret the role of chairman as that of mere post office. The chairman is required to act as a constitutional functionary which is a substantial responsibility,” Naid told the lawyers.
Sources further said Naidu emphasised that the constitutional functionaries should act in time as otherwise there could be adverse consequences.
Stating that the Chief Justice of India is the highest judicial functionary of the country and “any issue in public domain concerning him requires to be resolved at the earliest following prescribed procedures so as to prevent the atmosphere from being further vitiated”, the sources said quoting Naidu, on the condition of anonymity.
Talking about the issues raised in the notice, Naidu said they mostly pertained to the functioning of the Supreme Court and “they have to be resolved internally.”
“Any other means of seeking to address them amounts to interference in the independence of judiciary,” he said.