Rahul is ill-advised to back impeachment of CJI

Rahul is ill-advised to back impeachment of CJI

Rasheed Kidwai | 20 Apr 2018 10:50 PM

Congress president Rahul Gandhi / AFP PHOTO / ARUN SANKAR

For many who were hoping that decision-making mechanism would change under the new Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, it has proved to be a case of things going from bad to worse.

There is no plausible explanation as to why Rahul has not reconstituted the Congress Working Committee, the apex decision-making body of the party.  More than a month ago, the 84th AICC plenary gave him blanket powers but the young Gandhi seems to be dithering.

Rahul seems ill-advised on a range of issues, including his decision to align with the move to impeach the serving Chief Justice of India. Purely in terms of numbers, the Congress and the combined opposition does not have the requisite numerical strength.

If the idea is to merely “engage” with the office of the CJI and put some sort of informal pressure, then both the roadmap and outcome of such a strategy is fraught with counter-productive results. Perhaps Rahul’s visit to 10, Rajaji Marg, New Delhi, would have done lot of good as a seasoned Pranab Mukherjee would have given him a lot to think about.

As per article 124 (4) of the Constitution, there are various steps that are necessary before the Chief Justice’s fate can be put to vote in both Houses of Parliament. If the Rajya Sabha Chairman accepts the motion, a panel of two senor judges and a jurist will be formed and if the committee supports the motion, it can be taken up by Parliament where the motion against the chief justice has to be carried by a two-thirds majority of MPs in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

On the face of it, Rahul seems impressed by a battery of in-house lawyers marshalling their arguments. But as a leader of the Congress which, in its worse performance, pulled over 10 crore voters in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Rahul should understand that the party has deep roots in society. In this sense, the burden of accountability is much more on Rahul than on Prashant Bhushan or Sitaram Yechury.

Any big decision, therefore, must reflect some sort of approval or acceptance by the great many. That is where a threadbare discussion at a forum like the CWC assumes significance as it would have given Rahul many shades of opinion –beyond the worldview of the likes of Kapil Sibal (who had incidentally helped Justice  V Ramaswami survive the impeachment motion against him in 1993), Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Vivek Tankha, P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma and others.

Interestingly, not all lawyers within the Congress are on the same page on the issue of impeachment of the Chief Justice of India. Some Congress lawyers like Salman Khurshid and Ashwani Kumar reportedly have deep reservations, but the party high command has not bothered to give them a patient hearing.

This is not the way a party that preaches democratic values should be functioning.

Rasheed Kidwai is the Associate Editor with The Telegraph. His Twitter handle is @rasheedkidwai
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