Today, some MPs initiated proceedings for the removal of the current
chief justice of India by submitting a notice to the chairman of Rajya
Sabha. A judge may be removed from office through a motion adopted by
parliament on grounds of ‘proven misbehaviour or incapacity’. While the constitution does
not use the word ‘impeachment’, it is colloquially used to refer to the
proceedings under Article 124 (for the removal of a Supreme Court
judge) and Article 218 (for the removal of a high court judge).
The constitution provides that a judge can be removed only by an
order of the president, based on a motion passed by both houses of
parliament. The procedure for removal of judges is elaborated in the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968. The Act sets out the following steps for removal from office:
- Under the Act, an impeachment motion may originate in either house
of parliament. To initiate proceedings: (i) at least 100 members of Lok
Sabha may give a signed notice to the speaker, or (ii) at least 50
members of Rajya Sabha may give a signed notice to the chairman. The
speaker or chairman may consult individuals and examine relevant
material related to the notice. Based on this, he or she may decide to
either admit the motion or refuse to admit it.
- If the motion is admitted, the speaker or chairman (who receives it)
will constitute a three-member committee to investigate the complaint.
It will comprise: (i) a Supreme Court judge; (ii) chief justice of a
high court; and (iii) a distinguished jurist. The committee will frame
charges based on which the investigation will be conducted. A copy of
the charges will be forwarded to the judge who can present a written
- After concluding its investigation, the committee will submit its
report to the speaker or chairman, who will then lay the report before
the relevant house of parliament. If the report records a finding of
misbehaviour or incapacity, the motion for removal will be taken up for
consideration and debated.
- Once the motion is adopted in both houses, it is sent to the president, who will issue an order for the removal of the judge.
This article was originally published by PRS India.