Justice Sen guilty, says panel, can be impeached
Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court will become the first judge in India's history to be sacked (impeached) by Parliament, subject to a final stand to be taken by the ruling Congress-led UPA. Nagendar Sharma reports. Judicial improprietydelhi Updated: Nov 11, 2010 00:55 IST
Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court will become the first judge in India's history to be sacked (impeached) by Parliament, subject to a final stand to be taken by the ruling Congress-led UPA.
The rare development follows the widely anticipated findings of a three-member probe panel being made public on Wednesday, which held Justice Sen guilty of "misappropriation of public funds and making false statements."
The panel was set-up by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari in March last year after 58 opposition MPs had given a notice to impeach Sen, alleging misappropriation of Rs 33 lakh of public funds by him in 1984.
"In view of the findings on both charges, the inquiry committee is of the opinion that Justice Soumitra Sen is guilty of misbehaviour," concluded the probe report.
A defiant Sen, who had challenged the panel's proceedings, showed no signs of defeat yet.
"I will fight till the end and take the battle to its logical conclusion," he told Hindustan Times.
With the two-volume report finally tabled in Parliament, the focus has shifted to the outcome of the impeachment motion, which would have to be passed by both Houses with a two-thirds majority of MPs present during the voting.
Though the opposition parties are already gunning for Sen, the Congress and its allies appeared to have adopted a go-slow approach on the issue.
Senior ministers avoided a direct response, but hinted the ruling alliance is likely to back the impeachment motion.
A more forthcoming Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said, "Whether it be legislature, executive or judiciary, we'd certainly like to see the highest degree of probity and integrity is maintained."
Key UPA ally, the Trinamool Congress, who could have a crucial role to play in the entire issue, since it is directly related to West Bengal, appeared to be agreeable to the final stand to be taken by the Congress.
"We are yet to take a stand and it would be similar to that of Congress," said party leader and union minister of state for Tourism, Sultan Ahmed.
Since this is only the second impeachment motion to be brought in the Indian parliament, senior officials were referring to law books on whether it is mandatory to move the motion in the ongoing session itself.
Sen landed into trouble for his role as a court-appointed receiver (custodian) for Rs 33 lakh collected from sales during a dispute between SAIL and SCI in 1984. Sen was a lawyer then.
He was appointed a high court judge in 2003, and the matter surfaced following a complaint by SAIL a year later.
Sen's defence has been that he returned the entire amount with interest to the court in 2006. He says he deposited Rs 58 lakh with the court and a division bench of the Calcutta HC had cleared him of all wrongdoing.
First Published: Nov 10, 2010 12:47 IST