The BSP sprang a surprise in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday when it supported an embattled Justice Soumitra Sen during a vote to impeach him. The Calcutta High Court judge, charged with misappropriation of funds, was impeached by a margin of 189 votes to 17.
The BSP move, observers feel, may be Mayawati’s gesture to the judiciary.
“Mayawati seems to be trying to suggest she is soft on judges, faced as she is with cases of corruption,” said a close aide of a top UP politician.
Opposing the motion, BSP MP Satish Chandra Mishra, himself a lawyer, said the charges against Sen have not been “proven” and there has been “no misappropriation” of funds by him, reflecting the judge’s spirited defence of his case yesterday.
“The findings have said ‘there has only been diversion of funds and not misappropriation’, and secondly, the finding of a single judge was dismissed by a division bench,” Mishra said.
He added that misappropriation charges were leveled against Sen when he was a lawyer and not a judge, and therefore it should not be the ground for removing him as a judge.
When asked what was the political motive of such a surprising move at a time when corruption is a major public issue, a BSP MP simply said: “Satish Mishra has made our position clear. Ask him.”
The BSP went a step further: it, in fact, suggested there was political interference in judges’ appointment, obliquely hitting out at the political class itself.
Mishra said while judicial activism might be there, to say that judges appoint themselves was not true.
Some observers say the BSP may feel some heat at a time when corruption is a major issue, but others say Justice Sen is hardly known in UP and the matter may hold no political relevance there.