Two months after Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan recommended the removal of Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen on charges of corruption, the government remains unsure whether the move would succeed.
The Law Ministry, which had accepted the CJI's recommendation to impeach Justice Sen, says it would proceed further only after careful examination of all the documentary evidence made available to it.
“The chargesheet to be presented before the MPs should be strong enough to make out a case for impeachment, that is why it is taking time. This is a case which is 15 years old and dates back to the time when Sen was not a judge,”Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj told Hindustan Times.
He said legal experts were carefully examining the charges against Sen to “ascertain whether a case of impeachment is made out against him”.
The government, fully aware of the fact that no judge has been impeached in India so far, is treading cautiously. It has the numbers on its side to move a motion, but has so far not ascertained the views of political parties on the issue.
The Law Ministry admits that the impeachment procedure is time consuming and it might not happen in the near future.
“It is a difficult task to make a case for impeachment. The finalised chargesheet would be presented to the Cabinet before being taken to MPs for obtaining their signatures,” Bhardwaj said.
“We want to make a comprehensive case of misconduct. Doubts are being raised on the committee of judges (collegium) which cleared him for the position of judge, despite the allegations being in public domain. We are looking into all the aspects,” a ministry official said.
He said the ministry was not taking any chances with the chargesheet as the Lok Sabha Speaker or Rajya Sabha Chairman, depending on whichever House receives the motion, would also set-up a committee of jurists to get the charges probed.
“Therefore we want our chargehseet to stand the legal scrutiny of the committee which comprises of judges from the Supreme Court and High Courts,” the official said.
The CJI had sought Justice Sen's removal from the government based on the findings of a three-judge committee, which had held Sen guilty of misappropriating over Rs 50 lakh public money.
Sen, in his capacity as a court-appointed receiver in 1993, in a dispute between the Steel Authority of India Limited and the Shipping Corporation of India was supposed to deposit the money in the court. Instead, he transferred the amount in his account. Then a lawyer, Sen was elevated as a judge of the Calcutta High Court in December 2003.