A day after Rajya Sabha overwhelmingly passed a motion to impeach him — the first against a sitting judge — a combative Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta high court on Friday said politicians had used him as a pawn in their “power game” with the judiciary.
In an exclusive interview to HT, his first after the passing of the impeachment motion, Justice Sen made it clear that he could appear before the Lok Sabha only after August 30, since his son has to undergo emergency surgery next week.
The current session of Parliament ends on September 8.
“In case the Lok Sabha is also in a hurry like the Rajya Sabha was, let them proceed in my absence to hang me — by twisting facts and on misleading evidence,” he said.
Sen is charged with misappropriating Rs 33 lakh that was in his custody as a court-appointed receiver in a 1984 case.
The controversial judge termed the “so-called rare political unity” displayed in Rajya Sabha as “sheer opportunism”, which denied him justice. Politicians, he added, were desperate to ride the Anna Hazare-inspired anti-graft wave sweeping the country.
“Are they afraid of a separate discussion on the shortcomings in the judiciary that they used my case as an excuse? Look at the hypocrisy — they unite to slam the (judicial) appointments procedure, but oppose the inclusion of the judiciary under the lokpal’s ambit,” Sen said.
Questioning the procedure adopted by Rajya Sabha to impeach him, Sen said he was not given a chance to respond to the allegations levelled against him during the debate.
“First, I was given a limited time of 90 minutes, which was extended by barely 15 minutes following requests from some MPs. Then, the movers of the motion were given a free run to paint me corrupt without allowing me an opportunity to rebut the allegations,” he said.
“This was the first impeachment motion in the Rajya Sabha and the procedure was put to test. I say it failed the principles of natural justice,” he said.
Sen said some MPs even questioned the intention of the division bench of the Calcutta high court that had absolved him of the charges of wrongdoing in 2007. Therefore, he said, the House should think about whether it would continue to heap “wild allegations on those who are not present in parliament to defend themselves.”