Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta high court on Wednesday became the first judge in India’s history to appear before the Rajya Sabha to defend himself against a motion to impeach him.
Sen told MPs that he was being made a “sacrificial lamb in the season of scams to be showcased as an example of cleansing the judiciary”.
The motion will be put to vote on Thursday and if passed by two-thirds of the members present and voting, it will be sent to the Lok Sabha.
Sen's two-hour defence against the accusation of misappropriation of funds was telecast live on television channels after Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury moved the motion against him in an almost jampacked House. Sen, 53, said he was a victim of abuse of power by those holding high offices.
Specifically targeting former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan, he said the former CJI was the "accuser, prosecutor and judge" in his case.
In a stunning claim, Sen said he was informally summoned to Delhi by Balakrishnan.
“In his drawing room, in the presence of two other senior judges, he offered me to take retirement or even avail of the Voluntary Retirement Scheme in 2008. On my refusal, I was threatened with a CBI probe and even police torture,” he said.
Referring to the charges of misappropriation of public funds, amounting to Rs32 lakh, Sen said he admitted it was an error of judgment.
"At the maximum I could be guilty of mismanagement of funds, but not misappropriation," he said. Sen criticised the three-member judicial committee set up by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari to probe the allegations against him.
He said the panel ignored a Calcutta high court judgment clearing him of all charges in 2006.