Justice M.M. Punchi
Justice M.M. Punchi: This charge sheet was prepared by the Committee on Judicial Accountability in 1998, when Justice Punchhi was a judge of the Supreme Court of India. It was signed by 25 MPs of Rajya Sabha. However, before it could get the signature of the requisite number of 50 MPs of Rajya Sabha, Justice Punchhi was appointed Chief Justice of India. After this, it became virtually impossible to get the Notice of Motion signed by any MPs. Consequently, Notice of Motion could not be presented to the Speaker. The imp lesson of this exercise was that it is very difficult to get the MPs sign the impeachment motion unless three conditions are satisfied. Firstly, the charges must be very serious; secondly they must be provable by documentary evidence which is annexed to the Notice of Motion and finally, the charges must have been given substantial publicity in the media.
In the absence of all the three conditions been satisfied, MPs are afraid and reluctant to sign a charge sheet against a sitting judge. It is normally exceedingly difficult to get documentary evidence to prove charge against sitting judge, particularly in the absence of a statutory investigation by an agency having powers of investigation. Moreover, the bulk of the main stream media is afraid to publicise charges against the sitting judge for fear of contempt. In Ramaswami’s case, the above three conditions were satisfied. Documentary evidence was available against Ramaswami because of the report of the Accountant General who audited the purchases made by Ramaswami as Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court. This is why, impeachment of judges, however corrupt they might be, is not a practical remedy in discipling them.