189 members back impeachment motion moved by Yechury
The Rajya Sabha on Thursday approved the impeachment motion against Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court for corruption, with all members present in the House, barring the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), voting for his removal. The Lok Sabha will now take up his case in the current session itself.
The overwhelming roar of approval when Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari called for a voice vote cast the die against Justice Sen and electronic voting confirmed that 189 members were in favour of the motion moved by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, with just 17 holding the contrarian view.
This is the second time in Parliament's history that a judge has been arraigned for impropriety and the first time that he has been held culpable of the charges against him.
If Justice Sen swayed public opinion with a two-hour defence on Wednesday, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley turned the tables on him, rebutting all his arguments.
Justice Sen quickly became a victim of his defence, as the veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader was joined by others including E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan (Congress), and N.K. Singh (Janata Dal United), who rebuked him for seeking to drag in the judiciary at large in an attempt to exonerate himself.
Mr. Jaitley continued in the same vein on Thursday, focussing more on conclusions on the basis of the facts of the case narrated by him — Justice Sen's conduct as Receiver of the High Court and also after becoming a judge had all the “ingredients of culpability of breach of trust.”
He was “not truthful or candid,” which amounted to a case of “proven misbehaviour,” Mr. Jaitley said, displaying photocopies of cheques to buttress his contention. He pointed out that judges appointing judges was an extra-constitutional mechanism that had failed and renewed the call for the setting up of a National Judicial Commission. He also deprecated the trend of judges delivering judgments in politically sensitive cases on the eve of retirement and getting jobs the very next day from the government.
But Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP) said the charges had not been “proven” and there was “no misappropriation” of funds. “The findings have said there has only been diversion of funds and not misappropriation, and secondly the finding of a single judge was dismissed by a Division Bench,” he said.