Could Justice Soumitra Sen of Calcutta High Court become the first judge in India's history to be impeached? The panel, investigating Justice Sen's alleged misappropriation of public funds, will submit its report in Parliament during the winter session, scheduled for November.
The impeachment could become a reality if this panel's report is in agreement with two previous findings pronouncing Justice Sen guilty.
The latest probe panel was set up by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari in February 2009. It is headed by SC judge Justice B Sudershan Reddy and has as its members Punjab & Haryana High Court Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and noted jurist Fali S Nariman.
Justice Sen was held guilty of misappropriation of public funds by a committee of three judges set up by former CJI K G Balakrishnan in 2007. A year later, Justice Balakrishnan recommended his impeachment to the PM, after which a legal opinion obtained by the law ministry endorsed the judges' committee report.
In February 2009, Ansari had admitted a notice for the impeachment of Justice Sen moved by CPM leader Sitaram Yechury and signed by 56 other MPs.
Neither the panel members nor the lawyers representing Justice Sen were willing to comment on the report. Sen's legal team said they "would like to see the report first".
"As per the provisions of the Justice (Inquiry) Act 1968, the report of the committee shall be laid before each House of Parliament during the next session," said a Rajya Sabha secretariat release.
The outcome of the impeachment motion, which will first be brought in the Rajya Sabha, will depend on the stand taken by the ruling Congress, since it was the only major political party that did not sign the impeachment notice.
The only previous attempt in the country's history to impeach a judge failed in 1993, when the Congress party walked out during voting on the opposition moved motion against former SC judge, V Ramaswami.