The Rajya Sabha will consider on August 17 a motion for removal of Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court on the basis of the report of a three-member committee headed by Justice B. Sudershan Reddy of the Supreme Court. The committee felt, in its report of September 2010, Justice Sen was “guilty of misbehaviour.”

Justice Sen will have an opportunity to rebut the charges in person or through his counsel. It would be the first such motion in the history of the Rajya Sabha though Justice Sen is the second judge in the country's history to face removal proceedings in Parliament.

The first was V. Ramaswami, former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who later became a Supreme Court judge. The motion for his removal came up in the Lok Sabha but the House chose to admonish him and not to pursue it further.

Petition by 47 members

Acting on a petition by 47 members from different parties for removal of Justice Sen on the grounds of misconduct, Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari constituted the panel headed by Justice Reddy to inquire into the charges against Justice Sen.

Two grounds were listed in the MPs' petition — “misappropriation of large sums of money which he received in his capacity as a receiver appointed by the High Court of Calcutta and [he] misrepresented facts with regard to the misappropriation of money before the High Court of Calcutta.”

The Justice Reddy Committee had said that it felt that Justice Sen was 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.

Letter to Ansari

Last week, in a letter to Mr. Ansari, CPI(M) member Sitaram Yechury had given notice for the House to consider the motion on the report of the inquiry committee.

Mr. Yechury told journalists that the allegations levelled against Justice Sen had been vindicated by the Justice Reddy Committee.

As per procedure, the motion for removal of a judge once taken up had to be disposed of in the same session.

Two-thirds majority is required to vote in favour of the motion for removal of a judge. If the motion is adopted in the Rajya Sabha, it will be sent to the Lok Sabha for consideration. In the event of adoption of the motion by both Houses, it will be sent to President for removal.

Under the Constitution, only Parliament has the jurisdiction over the question of removal of judges under Article 124(4) read with Article 217(1) (b).

Article 124(4), when read with Article 217(1) (b), states that a High Court judge shall not be removed from his office except on the grounds of ‘proved misbehaviour.'

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