Impeachment notice a 'revenge petition', says Arun Jaitley
New Delhi, Apr 20: The BJP lashed out at the Congress over its move to impeach the Chief Justice of India, dubbing it as an "intimidatory tactic" and revenge petition" to target the Supreme Court after its verdict in the judge B H Loya death case exposed a "conspiracy of falsehood".
Accusing the Congress of using impeachment as a political tool after it and six other parties handed over to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu a notice signed by 64 MPs for the impeachment of CJI, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also a noted lawyer, said it is a dangerous event and serious threat to judicial independence.
While Jaitley posted his hard-hitting response to the opposition's move in Facebook, BJP fielded its spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi, who is also a lawyer, to take on the Congress. Besides the Loya case, Lekhi also made a mention of the Gujarat High Court's order today acquitting Maya
Kodnani, a former minister in the BJP-ruled state, of criminal charges in the Naroda Patiya riots case of 2002, and said she was falsely implicated as part of a Congress' conspiracy to target leaders of the saffron party. The BJP has said petitioners seeking probe in the Loya death case were acting at the behest of the Congress which, it has alleged, wanted to finish its president Amit Shah's political career. Lekhi accused the main opposition party of trying to "demean, degrade and denigrate" the judiciary after its "conspiracies" in cases of Loya's death and riot charges against its Kodnani were exposed.
The impeachment move is an attempt to pressure the judiciary and send out the message that "either you do what we say and if you dare not do as we command then we will impeach you", Lekhi said. In his seething Facebook post titled 'Judge Loya Death Case – The One That Almost Created a Judicial Mutiny, Jaitley also said Shah had "no role" in the Sohrabuddin case which was an "alleged encounter executed by some central agencies" through the state police.
Sohrabuddin, an alleged gangster, was killed in a police encounter in Gujarat in 2005 when Narendra Modi, now prime minister, was the state's chief minister and Shah a minister in his government. The Congress was at the power in the Centre.
Earlier in the day, the Congress and six other opposition parties moved a notice for the impeachment of the Chief Justice of India, accusing him of five counts of "misbehaviour" and "misusing" authority. Observing that impeachment of a Supreme Court judge is to be done only in the case of either his "incapacity" or on "proven misconduct", Jaitley said the Congress party and its "friends" have started using impeachment as a "political tool".
Trivialising the use of impeachment power is dangerous, he said, adding that it is not difficult to collect 50 signatures of Rajya Sabha or hundred signatures of Lok Sabha members even on frivolous issues. "My preliminary reaction to the impeachment motion filed is clear. It is a revenge petition after the falsehood of the Congress Party has been established in the Justice Loya death case. It is an attempt to intimidate a Judge and send a message to other Judges, that if you don’t agree with us, fifty MPs are enough for a revenge action," he said.
The senior BJP leader said yesterday's 114-page judgement in the Judge Loya death case "exposes every fact of the conspiracy to generate falsehood" as propaganda in the public and political space. "Never ever so blatantly in the past have national political parties, a few retired judges and some senior lawyers so closely identified themselves with the generation of falsehood that they almost come out as conspirators," he said. He said some public interest crusaders have graduated into "Institution Disruptors", adding that they pursue falsehoods with a "sense of deep commitment, indulge in intimidating advocacy, are shrill with their opposing colleagues, are rude and impolite with the judges". He said they have found two strong allies -- a section of the media gives them publicity and the Congress which is too willing to identify with them.
On the other hand, he regretted that a "divided court" is finding itself helpless to respond to these intimidatory tactics. Referring to the "controversial" press conference by four senior judges of the Supreme Court, Jaitley asked, "Is the impeachment motion filed today a direct result of the press conference? Does this impeachment set a precedent that political parties in India will use impeachment as an instrument to intimidate judges hearing controversial matters?" Jaitley said that what has happened today is a "price" the Indian judiciary has to pay for misadventures of many. "There is no better time for judicial statesmanship and political foresight," he said.
Jaitley also lashed out at the Caravan magazine stories and investigations in connection with death of Justice Loya a "textbook example of fake news". Lekhi said Kodnani was victimised by the Congress and implicated in a "false case" when it was in power at the Centre.
The Supreme Court had dismissed a batch of petitions seeking probe to judge Loya's death, saying he died of natural cases. Union minister Piyush Goyal also hit out at opposition parties, alleging depths of politicking had been reached and that judicial independence in the country was being attacked for political interests.