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Impeachment of judges

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					What is the legal framework regarding impeachment of judges?

The Constitution has measures to ensure the independence of the judiciary from executive
action. This helps judges give judicial decisions in a free and fair manner without any
inducements.

The Constitution also provides checks against misbehavior by judges. Article 124 (4) states that
“A judge of a Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the
President passed after an address by each house of parliament supported by a majority of the
total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of
the House present and voting has to be presented to the President in the same session for such
removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity”

Similar provisions exist in Article 217 clause 1 (b) for the removal of Judge of a High Court.

The detailed process is laid down in the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968.

How is the motion initiated? What is the process after that?

A motion has to be moved by either 100 Lok Sabha members of Parliament or 50 Rajya Sabha
MPs. If the motion is admitted, the Speaker of Lok Sabha or Chairman of Rajya Sabha
constitutes an inquiry committee.

The committee has three members: a Supreme Court judge, a High Court Chief Justice, and an
eminent jurist. The Committee frames charges and asks the judge to give a written response.

The judge also has the right to examine witnesses. After the inquiry, the committee determines
whether the charges are valid or not. It then submits its report.

What happens then?

If the inquiry committee finds that the judge is not guilty, then there is no further action. If they
find him guilty, then the House of Parliament which initiated the motion may consider
continuing with the motion.

The motion is debated. The judge (or his representative) has the right to represent his
case. After that, the motion is voted upon. If there is two-thirds support of those voting, and
majority support of the total strength of the House, it is considered to have passed. The process
is then repeated in the other House.

After that, the Houses send an address to the President asking that the judge be removed from
office.

Has this process taken place earlier?
Yes, there has been one such case. Justice Ramaswamy of the Supreme Court faced such a
motion. The inquiry committee found that the charges against him were valid. However, the
motion to impeach him did not gather the required support in Lok Sabha.

What are the charges against the Justice Sen?

There are two charges. He is accused of misappropriating large sums of money which he
received as a receiver appointed by the Calcutta High Court. He is also accused of
misrepresenting facts in this regard to the High Court.

What is the charge of misappropriation? What did the inquiry committee conclude?

Justice Soumitra Sen was appointed Receiver in a case, where certain money belonging to SAIL
was stuck in a 1983 dispute, by an order of the Calcutta High Court on April 30, 1984. As a
Receiver, Justice Sen had the power to collect outstanding debts and claims due in respect of
certain goods.

The Receiver is required to file and submit for passing, his half yearly accounts in the Office of
the Registrar of the High Court. However, Justice Sen did not comply with this rule. As a
Receiver, Justice Sen was required to open only one account and not move funds without prior
permission.

However, the Inquiry Committee found that two separate accounts were opened by Justice
Soumitra Sen as Receiver, with ANZ Grindlays Bank and Allahabad Bank . A total sum of over
Rs 33 lakh was transferred in these accounts from the sale of the goods which was unaccounted
for.

Justice Sen claimed he could not account for this amount since it was invested in a company
called Lynx India Ltd. to earn interest. The Inquiry Committee found this claim to be false as
well.

It was found that the amount transferred to Lynx India Ltd. had been made out of an account
opened by Justice Sen in his own name. The Committee concluded that (a) there was a large-
scale diversion of fund, and (b) such diversion was in violation of the orders of the High Court.

The purpose for such diversion remains unexplained.

This action was done by him as an advocate? Are there any charges against him after he
was appointed as a judge?

Justice Soumitra Sen was appointed a High Court Judge on December 3, 2003. The Inquiry
Committee noted that Justice Sen’s actions were, “an attempt to cover up the large-scale
defalcations of Receiver’s funds”.

After he became a Judge he did not seek any permission from the Court for approval of the
dealings, as required by the Court, nor did he account for the funds.
What about Justice Dinakaran’s case ?

Another such motion had been initiated against Justice PD Dinakaran but he resigned as the
Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court on July 19, 2011 a day ahead of the hearing of the three-
member inquiry committee appointed by the Rajya Sabha Chairman .

The charges against the judge include land grabbing, accumulation of unaccounted assets,
passing judicial order for extraneous considerations, following which his elevation to the
Supreme Court was also stalled.

The committee, appointed by the Rajya Sabha Chairman in January 2010, was headed by
Supreme Court judge Justice Aftab Alam and the then Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J S
Khehar and senior advocate PP Rao.

				
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