RS to take up Justice Sen impeachment on Aug 17

Rajya Sabha will take up next week the impeachment proceedings of Calcutta High court judge Soumitra Sen in perhaps the first case of its kind in the history of the Upper House.

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha will take up next
week the impeachment proceedings of Calcutta High court judge
Soumitra Sen in perhaps the first case of its kind in the
history of the Upper House.

The controversial judge has been held guilty on
corruption charges by a panel appointed by Rajya Sabha
chairman Hamid Ansari and the issue will be taken up on August
17, Parliament sources said.

Though the motion seeking the removal of Justice Sen
was admitted by Ansari on February 15, no date for the
discussion had been fixed.

A sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court
can only be removed through impeachment by both Houses of
Parliament with a two-thirds majority of MPs present and
voting in favour of the motion, according to the Judges
Inquiry Act, 1968.

In case of Justice Sen, the motion has not yet been
taken up by the Rajya Sabha, since the Act makes it clear that
the impeachment motion must be passed by both Houses during
the same session. The current session of Parliament will be
concluding on September 8.

Decks were cleared in November last year for
impeachment proceedings against Justice Sen with a judicial
committee set up by Ansari finding him guilty of
misappropriating "large sums" of funds and making false
statement regarding it.

This is the second case in the history of the country
in which Parliament has initiated proceedings for removal of a
judge. The first involved Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme
Court in May 1993 which fell through in the Lok Sabha.

Justice P D Dinakaran, Chief Justice of the Sikkim High
Court, against whom the Rajya Sabha chairman had set up a
judicial panel to inquire into allegations of corruption
against the judge. Dinakaran resigned on July 29.

The three-member committee, in its report placed in both
Houses of Parliament, had held Justice Sen "guilty of
misbehaviour" under Article 124(4) read with proviso (b) to
Article 217(1) of the Constitution of India."

The Committee, headed by Supreme Court judge B Sudershan
Reddy, said the charges of "misappropriation of large sums of
money" which Sen received in his capacity as receiver
appointed by the High Court of Calcutta and misrepresenting
facts with regard to it were "duly proved".

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.

The indictment of Sen paves the way for Parliament to
take up the impeachment of the judge who has been found guilty
of collecting Rs.33,22,800 from a purchaser of goods, keeping
it in a Savings bank account and misrepresenting facts to the
High Court.

As per the Judges Inquiry Act, the motion will now
have to be moved in the Rajya Sabha and debated upon. Sen will
be given an opportunity to defend himself through his counsel.
The committee was constituted by Ansari in March last
year under the Judges (Inquiry) Act 1968.

The decision followed an impeachment motion moved by
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and 57 other members of the
Upper House.

The committee had been constituted "for the purpose of
making an investigation into the grounds on which the removal
of Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court is prayed

The committee, which also included Punjab and Haryana
High Court judge Mukul Mudgal and noted Supreme Court lawyer
Fali S Nariman, had submitted its report to Ansari on
September 10.


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