New Delhi, Jan 31: With Chief Justice Dipak Misra understood to have written to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for removing Allahabad High Court’s Justice Narayan Shukla, he would be the fourth judge to face impeachment proceedings in the last 25 years with none succeeding so far.
Other judges against whom impeachment proceedings were initiated were top court judge V. Ramaswami in 1993 and Justices P.D. Dinakaran and Soumitra Sen in 2011.
Justice Misra is reported to have written to the President and the Prime Minister after three judges inquiry committee adversely commented on the conduct of Justice Shukla in a medical college scam.
The panel comprised Chief Justice of the Madras High Court Justice Indira Banerjee, Sikkim High Court Chief Justice S.K. Agnihotri and Justice P.K. Jaiswal of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
After the probe panel held Justice Shukla of committing gross judicial misconduct, the only course available is either he quit on his own or the government initiates impeachment proceedings against him under the Judges (Inquiry) Act 1986.
The entire exercise of probe by the three judges and the CJI writing to the President and the Prime Minister is under the “in house procedure”.
Under the procedure if the panel holds the delinquent judge guilty of misconduct, the CJI will advise the judge concerned to resign or seek voluntary retirement.
In case the judge expresses his unwillingness to resign or seek voluntary retirement, the chief justice of the concerned High Court is advised not to allocate any judicial work to the judge concerned.
It is understood that Justice Shukla has refused to step down voluntarily and judicial work withdrawn from him from January 23.
The case is related to a Lucknow-based private medical college being probed by the CBI. The agency on September 20 arrested retired Orissa High Court judge Ishrat Masroor Quddusi and five others, including the chairman of the college, on the charge of corruption to get a favourable order to admit students.
The college was barred from admitting students for two years – 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. At that time matter was pending before the top court.
The entire controversy triggered a storm after the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) moved the top court seeking probe by a special investigation team into allegations of corruption which its counsel Prashant Bhushan said could cast its shadows on the top judiciary.
The matter was mentioned before the bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer.
Justice Chelameswar ordered the constitution of five senior-most judges of the top court to hear the matter. However, later in the day, Chief Justice Misra constituted a five-judge bench that over-turned the order passed of Justice Chelameswar.