Tainted Calcutta high court Judge Soumitra Sen will face impeachment proceedings in Parliament with government accepting the chief justice of India's recommendation to the prime minister for his removal on charges of serious financial "misconduct", the second-ever such action against a member of the higher judiciary.
"The CJI has recommended initiating impeachment process. So we shall have to go to Parliament on the matter," Law Minister H R Bhardwaj told reporters in Delhi on Monday.
In an internal inquiry held by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan on the matter, Sen, then a practising lawyer, was allegedly found to have indulged in a financial misconduct prior to his elevation as high court judge in December, 2003.
He is said to have received Rs 32 lakh as a court-appointed receiver in a lawsuit between Steel Authority of India Ltd and Shipping Corporation of India and was accused of depositing the amount in his personal account.
In 1991, the first-ever impeachment action was initiated against Supreme Court Judge V Ramaswami for misconduct in furniture purchase when he was chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court. The motion was admited by the Lok Sabha speaker and a vote was called, but it fell through after the ruling Congress abstained.
The CJI's suggestion for action against Sen, who continues to be in office without any work being allotted to him, was sent last month to the Prime Minister's Office which, in turn, sent it to the law ministry for advice.
"I have received the papers a few days ago. We are examining them and preparing to take necessary action," Bhardwaj said adding, "no body can stop it because it (suggestion) came from the CJI."
In his letter, the chief justice said Sen was asked to appear before a three-member collegium and advised to submit his resignation or seek voluntary retirement on or before April 2, 2008.
However, Sen expressed his inability to tender his resignation or seek voluntary retirement.