Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen on Monday challenged the powers of the probe panel appointed by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari to investigate the corruption charges against him.
In his arguments before the three-member panel headed by Supreme Court judge, B. Sudershan Reddy, the controversial judge’s counsel, Shekhar Naphade, said the matter dated back to 1984 and there was no complaint against Soumitra Sen till he was appointed judge in 2003.
“The alleged misconduct is stated to be of the time when he (Sen) was appointed a court receiver in his capacity as a lawyer and the proceedings against him have been initiated under the constitutional provisions which apply for the removal of a judge,” the senior advocate submitted.
“He (Soumitra Sen) was appointed a court receiver by the Calcutta high court. He was an officer of the court, and the matter is between that court and its officer,” Naphade told the panel, which includes Punjab & Haryana high court chief justice Mukul Mudgal and eminent jurist, Fali S. Nariman as its members.
He cited several judgments in favour of his argument that prior permission of the Calcutta HC was required to initiate any probe against Sen. “A division bench of the HC had cleared him (Sen) of all charges of misappropriation in 2006, setting aside the single judge order of the same court a year earlier,” stated the senior advocate.
Rebutting the charge of misappropriation of Rs 33 lakh public money, Justice Sen’s lawyer pointed out that none of the parties filed any complaint against him for two decades.
Sidestepping reluctance of Justice Sen to appear before the panel, Naphade said in order to take action against a judge, the evidence has to be beyond reasonable doubt.
Arguments from Justice Sen’s side concluded, and the panel counsel will get a chance to respond on Tuesday. The panel is expected to give its report by August 5.