September 1, 2011
Impeachment of a Judge, Soumitra Sen
With Impeachment Imminent, Judge Quits – ‘Sacrificial Lamb’
By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India
New Delhi (UNI) – Calcutta High Court Judge Soumitra Sen voted to be impeached by the Rajya Sabha two weeks ago has resigned ahead of a similar motion scheduled in the Lok Sabha next week, a lawyer for the former Judge said tonight.
”I am being made a sacrificial lamb,” the Judge whose conduct as a junior lawyer decades ago has been the subject of impeachment proceedings in Parliament has written in his letter of resignation.
Justice Sen has written to President Pratibha Patil as well as to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, his lawyer S Bhattacharyya said in a telephone interview.
”I am not guilty as charged,” Justice Sen wrote to the Speaker in a letter, a copy of which was made available.
”I am not guilty of any form of corruption,” wrote the Judge, in controversy over his conduct as a lawyer before he was elevated in December 2003, adding that ”sadly, I am still facing a motion for impeachment.”
”There is no allegation against me that I am guilty of passing any order or judgment for extraneous consideration or that I have abused my power in any way so that my family or relatives or acquaintances have amassed wealth,” the Judge wrote.
”There is no complaint against me even today regarding my conduct as a Judge while discharging my judicial functions or my conduct as a judge outside the Court.”
The Rajya Sabha voted overwhelmingly on August 18 to impeach Judge Sen, the first such instance since India became independent 64 years ago. The Lok Sabha is set to consider the matter on September 5.
The Constitution provides that a sitting judge of High Court or Supreme Court can only be removed by impeachment by both Houses of Parliament with majority present and two-third of them voting in favour.
The only other Judge who came close to being impeached was Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court but the move in May 1993 fell through with Congress members abstaining.
Justice Sen has been held guilty of misappropriating Rs 33.23 lakh as a lawyer and court-appointed receiver and misrepresenting facts before a Calcutta court.
The case in which Justice Sen was found guilty dated back to 1983 when he was appointed receiver by the Calcutta High Court and diverted some money from that account to a personal investment in a private company.
His plea that the money was eventually paid back to the workers, to whom it belonged, was not found by investigators or Rajya Sabha members adequate to exonerate him of his guilt.
He reminded that in every case that has come so far before the Parliament for impeachment there were serious allegations of misbehaviour as a judge as contemplated under Article 124(4) read with 217 of the Constitution of India.
”However, my case is unique and perhaps this for the first time and hopefully the last that my conduct as a junior Advocate nearly 19 years ago is being looked into for proceeding with the Motion for impeachment despite a judgment passed by the Hon’ble Division Bench of the Hon’ble Calcutta high court clearing me of all charges.
”In the present mood of the Country, where the Civil Society has raised their voice against serious issues of corruptions regarding scams involving hundreds and thousands of crores, my lone voice that I am not guilty as charged cannot be heard.
”I wonder, whether my issue is the real issue of corruption and abuse of power by people in high places or I am being made a sacrificial lamb in the altar of justice as a showcase to tell the Nation that at least something has been done to clean the Institution from corruption.”
The case has raised questions about the process of selecting Judges which clearly failed to bring out the facts pertinent enough to warrant his removal after so many years of judgeship.
UNI MJ RSA 2310
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