As their Lok Sabha counterparts watched from the gallery, Rajya Sabha members made history by converting the Upper House into a court for the first time ever to hold impeachment proceedings against Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court.
The only difference from a normal day's work in the red-carpeted Upper House was a “bar” at the main gate of the entrance, not visible to the Press Gallery located right above it. The “bar” faced the Chairman's podium at the opposite end and Members had to crane their necks to look at Justice Sen, who was dressed in a charcoal black suit and a pinstriped tie, his salt and pepper hair swept back.
The bar was meant to symbolise restriction of access to a non-Member. In fact, as soon as Justice Sen had completed his defence after a stern Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari asked him to wind up as he had surpassed the allotted time of 90 minutes, he was asked to remove himself from the Upper House.
Justice Sen was assisted by counsel who stood behind him and could be viewed intermittently on the closed circuit TV, passing on files and relevant notes from a pile on a makeshift rostrum before the judge.
Justice Sen had been held guilty by a three-member panel appointed by Mr. Ansari.
Mr. Sen became only the second judge against whom impeachment proceedings have been taken up by Parliament. In the first instance in 1993, the Lok Sabha took up an impeachment motion against Supreme Court Judge Justice V. Ramaswami.There are two related counts of misconduct against Justice Sen — that he misappropriated money received in his capacity as receiver appointed by the High Court and, second, that he misrepresented facts with regard to the misappropriation before the High Court.