Rajya Sabha votes to impeach Justice Soumitra Sen (Lead)

August 18th, 2011 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) The Rajya Sabha created history Thursday when it passed by a majority of 172 votes a motion to impeach Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court for misconduct.

After over six hours of intense debate spread over two days, the house voted to recommend to President Pratibha Patil that Justice Sen be removed from office.

After the motion was passed by a voice vote, Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari
called for a division. The electronic voting system showed 189 members in favour or the motion and 17 against it. Of the 207 membes present in the house at the time, one abstained. The law required for the motion to be passed by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting.

Justice Sen is the first Indian judge against whom any of the two houses of parliament has passed an impeachment motion. The first such case was of Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court in 1993 but the impeachment motion fell through in the Lok Sabha as the ruling Congress abstained.

Communist Party of India-Marxist member Sitaram Yechury had moved the motion against Justice Sen Wednesday. In a powerful speech, Yechury said the motion was against an individual judge and not against the institution of judiciary itself, which has been assigned a central position in the Indian constitution and is held in high esteem.

Sen, who spoke after Yechury, said he was defending his very existence. “I am defending my life, very existence. Please decide in accordance with your conscience, applying your mind and on merit,” he added.

The will go to the Lok Sabha within a week. If it is approved by both the houses of parliament in the same session, the motion would go to the president, who can order the removal of the judge from office.

A three-member committee constituted by Ansari found the charges of financial irregularities against Sen to be correct. He is accused of misappropriating around Rs. 24 lakh in the 1990s when he was a lawyer and was appointed a receiver by the high court.

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