New Delhi, Nov 10 (PTI) Decks were today cleared for impeachment proceedings against Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen with a judicial committee set up by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari finding him guilty of misappropriating "large sums" of funds and making false statement regarding it.
The report of the three-member committee, placed in both Houses of Parliament, said it was of the opinion that Justice Sen was "guilty of 'misbehaviour' under Article 124(4) read with proviso (b) to Article 217(1) of the Constitution of India."
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 receiver appointed by the High Court of Calcutta and misrepresenting facts with regard to it were "duly proved".
Article 124(4) when read with proviso (b) to Article 217(1) states that a judge of a High Court shall not be removed from his office except on the grounds of 'proved misbehaviour'. The prefix 'proved' only means proved to the satisfaction of requisite majority of Parliament, if so recommended by the inquiry committee.
The indictment of Sen paves 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 CPI(M) 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.
Commenting on the development, Yechury said the impeachment proceedings should be undertaken during the current session which ends on December 13.
The report said the oral and documentary evidence had established that two separate accounts were opened by Justice Sen as "receiver" in his own name and a total sum aggregating to Rs 33,22,800 being the sale proceeds of goods were brought into the two accounts between March 24, 1993 and May 5, 1995.
The report also said that Justice Sen neither gave evidence before the committee nor made any statement nor even personally attended any of the hearings to enable the committee to be "assured" from the judge himself as to how the amount was "actually invested and where" and how it was spent.
The committee said there were "apparent and obvious contradictions" between the bank statements and Sen's previous assertions in written statements that the entire amount had been invested in Lynx India Ltd which went into liquidation in 1999-2000. PTI