New Delhi: Calcutta High Court judge
Soumitra Sen will be the second judge in Independent India to
face impeachment proceedings after the process to oust a
Supreme Court judge was politically defeated 17 years back.
Sen could go down in history as the first judge to be
removed from office and stripped of his robes by impeachment
if the proceedings against him in Parliament are successful.
The first-ever impeachment initiated against a judge-V
Ramaswami who retired as an SC judge in 1994--failed after the
motion collapsed on the floor of the Lok Sabha in 1993
following abstentions by the Congress.
The impeachment process had catapulted noted lawyer
Kapil Sibal, now a Union Minister, to national limelight for
his spirited defence of the judge.
Care was taken to see that Sibal did not enter the House
because he was not a member.
53-year old Sen , who has been found guilty of
misappropriating "large sums" of funds and making false
statement regarding it, has not been assigned any judicial
work for several months.
A motion for impeachment proceedings against Ramaswami
was defeated in the Lok Sabha in 1993 after the ruling
Congress asked its MPs and allies to abstain from voting. The
judge, in fact, contested the Lok Sabha elections in 1999 on
an AIADMK ticket from Sivakasi and stood second, polling over
32 per cent of the votes.
At the height of his career, he was appointed Judge of
the Supreme Court on October 6, 1989 from which he retired on
February 14, 1994.
A scandal surfaced in the middle of 1990 amid reports
about his ostentatious expenditure on his official residence
during his tenure as a Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana.
In a serious turn of events, on February 1, 1991,
Supreme Court Bar Association passed a resolution calling for
his impeachment and requesting Chief justice not assign him
any further legal work. BJP and Left parties submitted a
notice of motion to the Parliament seeking his removal from
Accepting the motion on 12 March 1991, Speaker Rabi Ray
constituted a committee comprising of Justice P B Sawant of
the Supreme Court, Chief Justice P D Desai of the Bombay High
Court and Justice O Chinnappa Reddy, retired judge of the
Supreme Court to investigate the affair. The committee found
Ramaswami guilty of 11 out of 14 charges.
The impeachment motion was placed in the Lok Sabha for
debate and voting on May 10, 1993. Of 401 members present that
day, there were 196 votes for impeachment and no votes against
and 205 abstentions by ruling Congress and its allies.
The motion which required not less than two-third
majority of the total number of members present in both houses
of the Congress and an absolute majority of its total
membership thus failed to pass.