For the second time, Rajya Sabha MPs are moving a motion to initiate impeachment proceedings against Justice C.V. Nagarjuna Reddy of the High Court for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Though no judge has been impeached in India till date, this is not the first time such a proceeding has been initiated.
Here’s a look at the previous instances:
Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court in 2011 avoided the ignominy of becoming the first judge to be impeached by Parliament by tendering his resignation.
He did so after the Rajya Sabha had passed the motion making him the first judge to have been impeached by the Upper House for misconduct. Justice Sen was found guilty of misappropriating Rs 33.23 lakh under his custody as a court-appointed receiver in the capacity as a lawyer, and misrepresenting facts before a Calcutta court in a 1983 case.
Justice P.D. Dinakaran, Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court, against whom the Rajya Sabha Chairman had set up a judicial panel to look into allegations of corruption, resigned in July 2011, before impeachment proceedings could be initiated against him. Corruption, land-grab and abuse of judicial office were among the 16 charges framed against Justice Dinakaran.
In 2015, a group of 58 Rajya Sabha MPs moved an impeachment notice against Justice J.B. Pardiwala of the Gujarat High Court for his “objectionable remarks on the issue of reservation.”
The MPs, in their petition, said Justice Pardiwala’s comments on reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, while giving a ruling in a case against Patidar leader Hardik Patel, were objectionable. The specific objection seemed to be connected to the observations made by the judge in paragraph 62 of the judgment.
“If I am asked by anyone to name two things which have destroyed this country or rather have not allowed the country to progress in the right direction, then the same is, (i) Reservation and (ii) Corruption. It is very shameful for any citizen of this country to ask for reservation after 65 years of Independence. When our Constitution was framed, it was understood that reservation would remain for a period of 10 years, but unfortunately, it has continued even after 65 years of Independence,” he had said.
Hours after the impeachment notice was sent to Hamid Ansari, the judge removed the wording from his judgment.
Justice V. Ramaswami has the dubious distinction of being the first judge against whom impeachment proceedings were initiated. In 1993, the motion was brought up in Lok Sabha, but it failed to secure the required two-thirds majority.
Justice Ramaswami was caught in a controversy for spending extravagantly on his official residence during his tenure as Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana during 1990. The Supreme Court Bar Association even passed a resolution calling for his impeachment.