New Delhi: 58 MPs of Rajya Sabha have given a notice for impeaching Justice S K Gangele of Madhya Pradesh High Court who is facing allegations of sexual harassment of a woman Additional District and Sessions Judge of Gwalior.
The move, initated by JD-U President Sharad Yadav, has got endorsement from members of a number of parties including Congress, CPI-M, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party and BSP.
Some members of the legal fraternity had met the MPs and and requested them to take up this matter, Yadav said.
“A number of people from the judicial fraternity had come to meet me in this regard and told me the case history. I felt that the lady judge’s voice was not being heard. I found that this is a fit case for impeachment,” said the JD(U) leader.
As per the rules, at least 50 MPs have to give notice for impeachment of any judge of a High Court or the Supreme Court.
In the notice given to Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, the MPs have said the motion should be admitted for removal of Gangele under Article 217 read with Article 124 of the Constitution.
The notice cites three grounds of “misconduct” for initiating the process of impeachment.
They include “sexual harassment” of a woman Additional District and Sessions Judge of Gwalior while Gangele was a sitting judge of the Gwalior Bench of the High Court, victimisation of the particular judge for not submitting to his “illegel and immoral demands”, including, but not limited to transferrring her from Gwalior to Sidhi and “misusing” his position as the Administrative Judge of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh to use the subordinate judiciary to “victimise” the lady judge later.
The issue had hogged media headlines after the lady judge resigned on July 15 last year days after she was transferred to a remote district.
After resigning the lady judge had sent representations to the President of India, the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court on August 1, 2014 in which she had made serious allegations against the Justice.
Supreme Court Chief Justice H L Dattu has set up a three-judge committee for a thorough probe into the sexual harassment complaint against the Madhya Pradesh High Court judge after receiving a preliminary inquiry report on a complaint by a woman judicial officer.
Article 124(4) when read with proviso (b) to Article 217(1) states that a judge of a High Court shall not be removed from his office except on the grounds of ‘proved misbehaviour’.
The prefix ‘proved’ only means proved to the satisfaction of requisite majority of Parliament, if so recommended by the inquiry committee.
If the Rajya Sabha takes up the impeachment motion, it will be the third such case in Parliament’s history and the second in the Upper House.
In recent times, Justice Soumitra Sen of Calutta High Court had faced impeachment proceedings in Rajya Sabha in 2011 for “misconduct” and “misappropriation of funds” in the capacity of a Calcutta High Court receiver.
The Rajya Sabha had voted in favour of impeaching him and while the proceedings in the Lok Sabha were in progress, the judge resigned. Subsequently, the impeachment proceedings were dropped, taking into consideration his resignation.
Under the constitution, a judge of a high court or the Supreme Court can be removed by the President by a motion adopted in both the Houses of Parliament by two-thirds majority in the same session on “proved misconduct and incapacity”.
The first such case involved impeachment of Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court in May 1993 which fell in Lok Sabha for lack of numbers.