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Monday, 2 April 2018

The Hindu Editorial : A Rude Wake-up Call

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Title: A rude wake-up call

(There must be some safeguards before a motion to impeach a judge is admitted in Parliament)

The euphoria in some circles over a proposed resolution of impeachment of the Chief Justice of India is a matter of grave concern, for it brings to fore issues that directly impinge on the independence of the judiciary.

Reason for discomfort

Two instances that immediately preceded the present one only reinforce the concerns: one concerning a judge from Gujarat for his observations in a judgment and the other from Andhra/Telangana where a communal twist was given to the case.

The question then is, should there be some safeguards before the motion, tabled by the requisite number of Members of Parliament, is admitted?

A fearless judge is the bedrock of an independent judiciary, as much as an independent judiciary itself is the foundation on which the rule of law rests.

In the discharge of his official duty, a judge is obliged to decide on a variety of matters concerning the government and the political class.

To name a few: public interest litigations involving disclosure norms for contesting candidates; the right of a chargesheeted person to contest elections; election petitions; electoral disqualifications, validity of government policies,

criminal prosecutions of political leaders, including for owning assets disproportionate to their known sources of income; challenges to anti-defection law disqualifications;

Fixity of tenure and removal only by impeachment, no doubt, are guarantees for independence. But in a perception-driven world, the incalculable damage that even a mere admission of an impeachment motion can cause, and the consequential loss of reputation, that can never be redeemed, need to be primarily addressed.

In the judiciary’s court

There is a perception in the community that attempts are being made to considerably weaken the judiciary. There is also a feeling, that enough is not being done by the judiciary to check that attempt. It is time for the judiciary to assert itself.

Vacancies are mounting and pendency(delay) of cases is reaching alarming proportions. The faith of the people in the judiciary should not be lost.

If the judiciary is perceived as weak, more and more impeachment proposals would do the rounds. The message should go from the top. That will also rejuvenate the high courts and give the judges their much-needed confidence.

How can the Chief Justice of India be impeached?

To move an impeachment motion against the CJI, signatures of 100 MPs are needed in Lok Sabha and in Rajya Sabha, signatures of 50 members are required. The motion can be introduced by in either of the Houses.

After the motion is introduced, it will be up to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha to accept it.

If the motion is accepted, a three-member committee, comprising one judge of the SC, one judge of the high court and one notable jurist, would be formed to further investigate the charges.

If the three-member committee further decides to support the motion, the matter will be taken up for discussion in the House where it had been originally introduced. The impeachment process will get passed only when either 100 Lok Sabha MPs or 50 Rajya Sabha members support the motion.

Irrespective of which House introduces the motion, according to the Indian Constitution, it will have to be passed by the other House as well.

Only after gaining a two-thirds majority in both the Houses, will the motion finally get passed to the President of India.

In this case, if the motion is passed in both the Houses, President Ram Nath Kovind will take the final call.

Vocabulary words:

Impeachment (noun) = A charge of misconduct made against the holder of a public office

Euphoria (noun) = Enthusiasm, zeal (उत्साह)

Impinge (verb) = Have an effect, especially a negative one (टकराना)

Protagonist (noun) =
 Leading character, supporter (मुख्य पात्र)

Precede (verb) = Come before in time (पूर्वकालीन होना)

Reinforce (verb) = Strengthen (सुदृढ़)

Fixity (noun) = The state of being permanent (स्थिरता)

Vocabulary words:

Tenure (noun) = Tenancy, occupancy (कार्यकाल)

Exoneration (noun) = The release of someone from a duty (पुनरास्थापन)

Inhibited (adj) = Self-conscious, reserved (हिचकते)

Concurrence (noun) = Agreement or consistency (सहमति)

Obviate (verb) = Abstain, keep off (मुक्त हो जाना)

Convene (verb) = Summon, call (आयोजित करना)

Ab initio (adv & adj) = From the beginning (प्रारंभ से)

Comport (verb) = Accord or agree with (समान होना)

Prosecution (noun) = Conducting of legal proceedings against someone in respect of a 
criminal charge

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