Sen impeachment: RS to be converted into a court

Rajya Sabha will be converted into a court next Wednesday when it will take up for the first time in its history impeachment proceedings.

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha will be converted
into a court next Wednesday when it will take up for the first
time in its history impeachment proceedings against a sitting
judge--Justice Soumitra Sen of Calcutta High Court.

The controversial judge, who has been held guilty on
corruption charges by a panel appointed by Rajya Sabha
Chairman Hamid Ansari, will be given one and a half hours time
to present his case before the Upper House.

The 53-year-old judge is yet to intimate to the
authorities in Parliament whether he will appear in person or
send a lawyer to represent him.

After hearing the judge or his representative who will
appear before a bar that will be raised at the entrance of the
House facing the Chair, the Rajya Sabha will deliberate on the
matter which could turn into a debate on the issue of judicial
activism and overreach.

Before this exercise, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury
will move the impeachment motion against the judge.

The motion`s text reads as: "This House do consider the
report of Inquiry Committee in regard to the investigation and
proof of the misbehaviour alleged against Soumitra Sen, High
Court of Calcutta, which was laid on the table of the House on
November 10, 2010".

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.

This is the second time in the history of Parliament
that proceedings have been initiated 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 PD 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 resigned on July 29.

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.

In this case, the impeachment motion was not taken up
so far by the Rajya Sabha as the Act makes it clear that it
must be passed by both Houses during the same session. The
current session will conclude on September 8.

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 Calcutta High Court 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.

Sen`s indictment paves the way for Parliament to take
up 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. After
the Upper House adopts the motion, it would go to the Lok
Sabha for approval.

The decision followed an impeachment motion moved by
Yechury and 57 other members of the Upper House.

The inquiry committee, which 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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