New Delhi, Jan. 13: Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen is unlikely to face impeachment proceedings in the 14th Lok Sabha.
Although the House will sit once more in February to clear the vote-on-account before the general election, there will be no impeachment proceedings, sources said.
It is not possible to collect signatures by the next session, a source said, referring to the signatures of 100 Lok Sabha MPs or 50 Rajya Sabha MPs needed to introduce an impeachment motion.
The chief justice had recommended to the Prime Minister on August 4 that Sen, accused of putting into a personal account Rs 33 lakh that he received as court receiver in 1993, be impeached for judicial impropriety.
A representation bearing the signatures of 100 Lok Sabha or 50 Rajya Sabha MPs has to be presented to the presiding officers office before an impeachment motion can be introduced. Once the motion is accepted, a committee is appointed to probe the allegations and the judge given the chance to defend himself. If a judge is found guilty, the committee recommends his removal.
The recommendation has to be vetted by a double majority in the House in which the motion was introduced a majority of the total membership and two-thirds majority of members present and voting. The same process has to be followed in the other House. A judge stands removed from office from the date an impeachment motion is adopted.
The chief justice had told the Prime Minister in his letter that Sen had rejected his advice to resign or seek voluntary retirement after he was found guilty by an in-house probe.
The only disciplinary power that the chief justice has to deal with such errant judges is to withdraw judicial work from them.
Sen, also accused of using the Rs 33 lakh that he had received while he was still a lawyer, returned the money only after he was asked to by the high court in 2005, two years after he became a judge. A single judge held him guilty of criminal misappropriation. A three-member peer group also indicted Sen.
On February 25, 2008, Sen sought reconsideration of the decision and a personal hearing. This was granted on March 16. The chief justice and his collegium of two other senior judges, B.N. Agrawal and Ashok Bhan, however, again asked him to resign or seek voluntary retirement on or before April 2.
Instead, Sen went on leave citing ill-health. He has since rejoined but is yet to be allotted judicial work.