As per media reports, 61 MPs of the Rajya Sabha have on 5 December 2016 submitted a petition to the Rajya Sabha Chairman Shri Hamid Ansari for initiating an impeachment proceeding against Justice C.V. Nagarjuna Reddy, who is a judge in the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh high court at Hyderabad, for alleged victimisation of a Dalit district court judge and for alleged possession of assets which are disproportionate to his known sources of income. Reports suggest that among others, prominent Rajya Sabha Members such as Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), D Raja (CPI), Digvijaya Singh, Oscar Fernandes, Kumari Selja, P L Punia, Shantaram Naik (Congress), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Naresh Agarwal and Neeraj Shekhar (Samajwadi Party) have signed this petition.
It is noteworthy that As per Section 3(1)(b) of the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968, the requirement for moving an impeachment motion is signature of at least 50 MPs of Rajya Sabha, if the notice is given in the Rajya Sabha. In the present case, as many as 61 members of Rajya Sabha have reportedly signed the petition, so it meets the minimum requirement.
For the impeachment of a judge, a removal motion signed by at least 100 members of Lok Sabha or 50 members of Rajya Sabha has to be submitted to the speaker or the chairman, as the case may be, who then considers the motion, and may admit or reject it.
If the motion is admitted, the speaker or chairman constitutes a three-member committee to investigate into the charges. The committee should consist of the Chief Justice or a judge of the Supreme Court, a chief justice of a high court and a distinguished jurist.
If the committee finds the judge to be guilty of the charges, the house in which the motion was introduced, can take up the consideration of the motion.
Both houses have to then pass it with a “special” majority and after that an address is presented to the president for removal of the judge. The decision is then taken by the president.
Impeachment of a high court judge is permissible under Article 217 read with Article 124 of the Constitution.
In the present case, as per the media reports, the impeachment motion against Justice C.V. Nagarjuna Reddy lists the following grounds for impeachment:
- According to the notice, the junior civil judge, Shri S. Rama Krishna, was allegedly assaulted and called names by Justice Reddy and his brother, Pawan Kumar Reddy, when he refused to remove the name of Justice Reddy’s brother from a dying declaration. It is alleged that the dying declaration of a servant employed with Justice Reddy’s brother was recorded by Shri Krishna in 2012, in which the victim accused Justice Reddy’s brother of setting him on fire “for not agreeing to sign on a blank paper.”
- Justice Reddy allegedly possesses wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income and that he allegedly did not declare his assets to the Chief Justice and to the public in violation of the full court resolution of 1997.
Asked why the MPs had decided to take up the issue which happened in 2012, an MP is reported to have said that the affected party had approached the High Court and the Supreme Court and even secured some RTI documents, but decided to approach the MPs as he did not get justice.