Decks cleared for Justice Sen`s impeachment

The panel has found the Calcutta HC judge guilty of misappropriation of large sums of money.

Updated: Nov 10, 2010, 14:23 PM IST

New Delhi: Decks were Wednesday cleared for
impeachment proceedings against Calcutta High Court judge
Soumitra Sen with a judicial committee set up by Rajya Sabha
Chairman Hamid Ansari finding him guilty of misappropriating
"large sums" of funds and making false statement regarding it.

The report of the three-member committee, placed in both
Houses of Parliament, said it was of the opinion that Justice
Sen was "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 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.

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.

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
for."

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.

Commenting on the development, Yechury said the
impeachment proceedings should be undertaken during the
current session which ends on December 13.

The report said the oral and documentary evidence had
established that two separate accounts were opened by Justice
Sen as "receiver" in his own name and a total sum aggregating
to Rs 33,22,800 being the sale proceeds of goods were brought
into the two accounts between March 24, 1993 and May 5, 1995.

The report also said that Justice Sen neither gave
evidence before the committee nor made any statement nor even
personally attended any of the hearings to enable the
committee to be "assured" from the judge himself as to how the
amount was "actually invested and where" and how it was
spent.

The committee said there were "apparent and obvious
contradictions" between the bank statements and Sen`s
previous assertions in written statements that the entire
amount had been invested in Lynx India Ltd which went into
liquidation in 1999-2000.

"By refusing to attend or personally participate in the
proceedings before the Committee, he, Justice Sen, denied
himself the opportunity of giving an explanation (if he had
any)," the committee noted.

PTI