Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta high court on Thursday earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first judge in India’s history against whom an impeachment motion was passed in the Rajya Sabha.
Sen was charged with misappropriation of R33 lakh of public funds, which he held in his capacity as a court-appointed receiver, when he was a lawyer in 1984.In a rare display of political unity, 189 MPs of the 206 present in the 243-member House voted to impeach Sen. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was the only party to oppose the motion to remove the judge.
Leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley, who had punctured Sen’s defence after the judge said he was being made a “sacrificial lamb” in the season on scams, said Sen had lied consistently before different courts and the enquiry committee appointed by the Rajya Sabha chairman.
On Thursday, veteran lawyer and former law minister Ram Jethmalani led the attack against Sen. “This man did not deserve to be a judge. The charges against him were so serious that they would have attracted at least a five-year jail term under criminal law. He is lucky to have escaped only by impeachment,” he said.
The CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury said, “It is a shut case. We are rising to the occasion, keeping in mind the waves of protests across the country against corruption.”
The scene now shifts to the Lok Sabha. If two-thirds of its members present vote for the motion, Sen will be removed by the President.