Rajya Sabha panel indicts Sen on charges of misappropriation of money
Deevakar Anand | November 10, 2010
The three member Rajya Sabha panel headed by supreme court judge B. Sudershan Reddy to inquire into corruption charges and delve on the merits of initiating impeachment against Calcutta high court Judge Soumitra Sen has indicted him. With this, decks have been cleared for his impeachment proceedings. The judicial committee which also comprised legal luminary Fali S Nariman and chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court, Mukul Mudgal has said that the charges of "misappropriation of large sums of money" against Sen which he received in his capacity as the court appointed receiver when he was a lawyer has been "duly proved". The judge has also been found guilty of misrepresenting the facts regarding the same before the high court of Calcutta.
The report tabled in both the houses of parliament today has held justice Sen "guilty of 'misbehaviour' under Article 124(4) read with clause (b) of Article 217(1) of the Constitution of India. While Article 124 (4) deals with the removal of the Judges of the Higher Judiciary, Article 217 (1) deals with the appointment and conditions of the office of a Judge of a High Court.
Justice Sen’s impeachment if approved by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will be a new precedent as no sitting judge has ever been removed through impeachment in India.The only one off instance of failed attempt to impeach a judge in the history of India was in 1993 when the opposition had moved impeachment motion against Supreme Court judge V. Ramaswami. The motion however had to be dropped as the ruling Congress walked out during the voting. This time again, it will be the Congress’ stand –which has decisive numbers on the floor- on which will depend the concluding course of Justice Sen’s impeachment proceedings as it is the only major party which has not come out clearly as yet on supporting the motion.
Hamid Ansari had formed the panel after a letter signed by more than 50 Rajya Sabha MPs was submiited to him by senior CPI-M leader and parliamentarian Sitaram Yechuri in February 2009. Justice Sen was appointed receiver of the Calcutta high court in a civil suit. He, however, allegedly, instead of transferring funds to a separate account kept it in his own account and continued doing it even after assuming the office of a judge of the high court.
The judge has been arguing against his impeachment saying he committed financial misappropriations as a lawyer and not as a judge.
In Kolkatta, his lawyer Subash Bhattacharya told PTI the panel’s report was not at all surprising to him and that justice Sen had objected to its formation to Hamid Ansari. Bhattacharya ,however said his client would abide by the law and would be able to prove his "innocence" in Parliament. "I can assure that he will prove his innocence," he added.
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