What does impeachment of a judge mean? (Lead)

August 17th, 2011 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court is the second judge in Indian history to face impeachment proceedings for unbecoming conduct. IANS seeks to answer some questions about this case, which has attracted wide attention:

What is impeachment?

Impeachment literally means being charged for misconduct. Under the constitution, judges, chief justices of the Supreme Court and high courts can only be removed after being charged with “proven misconduct and incapacity” by the president of India on a motion adopted in both houses of parliament by two-thirds majority.

What is the procedure?

Each Rajya Sabha member will vote on the impeachment motion against Justice Sen, who is the first judge to face impeachment proceedings in the Rajya Sabha. Since the MPs will be acting as jury members they will face no whip.

The motion will be passed if at least 50 percent of the MPs are present and two-thirds of them vote for the motion. If the Rajya Sabha passes the motion, it will then go to the Lok Sabha within a week.

What he has been accused of?

Justice Sen is accused of misappropriating around Rs.24 lakh in the 1990s when he was a lawyer and was appointed receiver by the Calcutta High Court.

Other impeachment motions in the country?

The first case of impeachment of a judge in India was of Justice V. Ramaswami of the Supreme Court in May 1993. The motion fell through in the Lok Sabha as the ruling Congress abstained from voting. Kapil Sibal, a senior Supreme Court advocate, and now a cabinet minister, defended Justice Ramaswami before the bar of the Lok Sabha.

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