Lok Sabha drops impeachment motion against former judge
New Delhi: With President Pratibha Patil accepting his resignation, the Lok Sabha Monday dropped impeachment proceedings against former Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen, bringing to a premature end a process that began in the Rajya Sabha last month.
Law Minister Salman Khurshid moved the motion to drop impeachment proceedings against Sen as soon as the Lok Sabha met at 2 pm for its post-lunch sitting. Speaker Meira Kumar put it to vote before the house, which adopted the motion.
Sen was held guilty by the Rajya Sabha last month on charges of misappropriating Rs3.32 million (Dh262,949) in a 1983 case when he was appointed a receiver by the high court. The upper house had on August 18 adopted an impeachment motion for the removal of Sen with 189 members voting in favour and 16 against, after he had put up a spirited defence.
After the Rajya Sabha, it was the turn of the Lok Sabha to carry through impeachment proceedings and it was listed in lower house's business for yesterday. However, Sen on Saturday sent in his resignation to the president, who accepted it and forwarded it to the justice department, which issued a formal notification.
With Sen ceasing to be a judge, the Lok Sabha speaker held consultations with ministers and leaders of various political parties yesterday morning. Senior ministers of the government, including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, met to discuss the issue and decided to drop the impeachment motion.
Though there were some voices, particular in some political parties, that the lower house should go ahead with the proceedings, the government, in the end, decided to drop the impeachment motion.
Sen is the first judge against whom any of the two houses of parliament had passed an impeachment motion. The first such attempt to impeach a judge was against Justice V. Ramaswami of the Supreme Court in 1993, but the motion to remove him fell through in the Lok Sabha as the ruling Congress abstained.
11 vacancies by next year
There will be 11 vacancies for judges in the Supreme Court by May next year. In a response to a question in the Rajya Sabha Monday, Minister of Law and Justice Salman Khurshid said: "There would be 11 vacancies of judges in the Supreme Court up to May 31, 2012 including existing four vacancies of judges as on August 31, 2011."
"The entire process of initiation of proposal for appointment of a judge of a Supreme Court rests with the Chief Justice of India. The proposals received from the Supreme Court are under consideration of the government," he added.