Rajya Sabha panel holds Justice Sen guilty of corruption

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NEW DELHI - A three-member committee formed by the Rajya Sabha to enquire into a impeachment motion against Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen has held him guilty of corruption.

The panel, constituted by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, was headed by Supreme Court judge B. Sudershan Reddy and comprised Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and noted legal expert Fali Nariman. Its report was tabled in the upper house Wednesday.

The panel said Sen was guilty of “misappropriation of large sums of money which he received in his capacity as receiver appointed by the high court of Calcutta” and “making false statements”. Sen also “misrepresented facts with regard to the misappropriation of money before the High Court of Calcutta”, the panel said.

The report says the charges have been “duly proved”.

“In view of the findings… the inquiry committee is of the opinion that Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court is guilty of misbehaviour,” the report said.

If the impeachment motion is approved by both houses of parliament, Sen will be the first sitting judge in India to be removed in this manner.

An impeachment motion was moved against Sen in February 2009 after a notice signed by more than 50 Rajya Sabha MPs was submitted by Communist Party if India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury to Ansari, who then constituted the three-member probe panel.

The report will now form the basis of discussion and voting in both houses of parliament, following which a final decision for Sen’s impeachment will be taken. However, experts say that the moving of the impeachment motion will depend on the stand taken by ruling Congress, which is the only major party that has not supported the motion.

The only previous attempt in India’s history to impeach a judge failed in 1993 when the Congress walked out during voting on the opposition moved motion against Supreme Court judge V. Ramaswami.

In 1994, Sen was appointed a receiver of the Calcutta High Court in a civil suit. In this capacity, he was incharge of funds related to the case and was meant to set them aside in a separate bank account. Instead, it is alleged, even after his promotion as a judge, the money remained in an account in his name.

Sen has argued that he should not be dismissed because he committed financial violations as a lawyer, and not after he became a judge.

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