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Rajya Sabha to take up Justice Sen impeachment issue

August 10, 2011 15:16 IST

The Rajya Sabha will take up the impeachment proceedings of Calcutta High Court Judge Soumitra Sen in perhaps the first case of its kind in the history of the Upper House.

The controversial judge has been held guilty on corruption charges by a panel appointed by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari. The issue will be taken up on August 17, Parliament sources said.

Though the motion seeking the removal of Justice Sen was admitted by Ansari on February 15, no date for the discussion had been fixed.

A sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or a high court can only be removed through impeachment by both Houses of Parliament with a two-thirds majority of MPs present and voting in favour of the motion, according to the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968.

In case of Justice Sen, the motion has not yet been taken up by the Rajya Sabha, since the Act makes it clear that the impeachment motion must be passed by both Houses during the same session. The current session of Parliament will be concluding on September 8.

Decks were cleared in November last year for impeachment proceedings against Justice Sen, with a judicial committee set up by Ansari finding him guilty of misappropriating "large sums" of funds and making false statements regarding it.

This is the second case in the history of the country in which Parliament has initiated proceedings for the removal of a judge. The first involved Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court in May 1993 which fell through in the Lok Sabha.

The three-member committee, in its report placed in both Houses of Parliament, had held Justice Sen "guilty of misbehaviour".

The committee, headed by Supreme Court Judge B Sudershan Reddy, said the charges of "misappropriation of large sums of money", which Sen received in his capacity as the receiver appointed by the high court of Calcutta and misrepresenting facts with regard to it were "duly proved".

The indictment of Sen paves the way for Parliament to take up the impeachment of the judge who has been found guilty of collecting Rs.33,22,800 from a purchaser of goods, keeping it in a savings bank account and misrepresenting facts to the high court.

As per the Judges Inquiry Act, the motion will now have to be moved in the Rajya Sabha and debated upon. Sen will be given an opportunity to defend himself through his counsel.

The committee was constituted by Ansari in March last year under the Judges (Inquiry) Act 1968.

The decision followed an impeachment motion moved by Communist Party of India - Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury and 57 other members of the Upper House.

The committee had been constituted "for the purpose of making an investigation into the grounds on which the removal of Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court is prayed for."

The committee, which also included Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge Mukul Mudgal and noted Supreme Court lawyer Fali S Nariman, had submitted its report to Ansari on September 10.

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