Government ready to remove Calcutta High Court judge (Second Lead)

September 8th, 2008 - 9:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 8 (IANS) In only the second case of its kind, the central government Monday expressed its willingness to abide by the chief justice’s recommendation to sack Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High court for misappropriating Rs.5.8 million of court funds.Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan’s recommendation, sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Aug 4, has been referred to the law ministry, which is set to move a motion in parliament for removal of Justice Sen.

“I received the papers a few days ago. We are examining them and preparing to take necessary action,” Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj told reporters.

“The CJI (chief justice of India) has recommended initiating the impeachment process, so we shall have to go to Parliament on the matter. Nobody can stop it because the recommendation came from the CJI,” he said.

A motion for removal of a judge of higher judiciary has to be moved in parliament along with endorsement by at least 100 members of the Lok Sabha or 50 members of the Rajya Sabha.

Bhardwaj ruled out the necessity of having signatures of 100 MPs on a government’s motion for removal of a judge from his post.

“The constitutional requirement for an impeachment motion having signatures of 100 MPs may not apply in this case as it will be a government motion,” he said.

Bhardwaj indicated that the government may move parliament for removal of Justice Sen during its session starting mid-October.

After the government moves the motion, in the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha, the presiding officer of the house would get the allegations against Justice Sen examined by its own panel and if found true, both houses will have to pass the motion after a debate.

Chief Justice Balakrishnan was forced to recommend Justice Sen’s removal after he ignored an advice by the apex court’s collegium of three senior-most judges to either resign or retire voluntarily by April 2, 2008.

Justice Sen’s sack was recommended after a three-member judicial panel, constituted by Chief Justice Balakrishnan, found him guilty of misappropriating the high court’s funds worth Rs.5.8 million on two occasions - first in 1984 and then again in 1997, while acting as special officer appointed by the high court to take charge of the suit properties and to keep them in his safe custody.

The first case of a judge’s impeachment was initiated against Supreme Court Justice V. Ramaswami in 1991 for misconduct in purchasing furniture when he was the chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The motion was admitted by the speaker and a vote was called but the ruling Congress party abstained.

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