Justice Sen to escape impeachment

Last Updated: Saturday, September 3, 2011 - 21:37

New Delhi: Justice Soumitra Sen of the
Calcutta High Court appears to have succeeded in avoiding
impeachment with his resignation reaching President Pratibha
Patil on Saturday and rendering the removal proceedings in Lok Sabha
infructuous.

Any doubts about the veracity of his resignation, which
was faxed to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday, were removed with
the original handwritten letter under his signature being
delivered to the President`s office this morning.
Justice Sen`s impeachment is on the Lok Sabha schedule
for Monday but constitutional experts said tonight that the
resignation had rendered impeachment proceedings infructuous.
The Rajya Sabha had impeached him last month.

Highly placed sources confirmed tonight that the
proceedings in the lower house may now be dropped enabling the
judge to avoid the ignominy of being the first judicial
officer to be impeached by Parliament.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati had opined yesterday
that the impeachment proceedings, having already been
completed in the Rajya Sabha, should be completed by the
other house.

This opinion appears to have been based on the premise
that the resignation letter faxed by Sen to Rashtrapati Bhavan
on Thursday could not be taken cognisance of since such
letters must be written in the hand of the judge as per Art
217 (a) of the Constitution.
That criterion was fulfilled today and as
constitutional expert P P Rao noted, "impeachment proceedings
are intended to remove a judge from the post. But once he has
resigned you cannot remove him. Therefore, the proceedings
become infructuous."

Another expert K K Venugopal said that once a High
Court judge submits resignation it would operate straightaway.
However, if the resignation mentions a prospective date, it
is open to a judge to withdraw it before it is accepted."

However, former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subash
Kashyap was of the opinion that, "if the resignation is found
to be mala fide, the President may say this is only to avoid
(impeachment) proceedings in which case she may allow the Lok
Sabha to continue the proceedings."

He also said the Speaker would have to be guided by
the opinion of the Attorney General.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, September 3, 2011 - 14:02

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