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Thursday, 1 September 2011

Justice Soumitra Sen, facing impeachment, resigns

Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta high court resigned on Thursday, five days before his impeachment motion was to taken up in the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha had on August 18 overwhelmingly approved the impeachment motion against Justice Sen. Justice Sen was held guilty of misappropriating Rs. 33.23 lakh in a 1983 case. 


Here is the full text of his resignation ...


The Hon'ble Speaker

Lok Sabha
Parliament House
New Delhi

Respected Madam,

With a very heavy heart and a deep sense of anguish I am writing this letter to you.
I was elevated as a Judge of Calcutta high court on 3rd December 2003.
Till such time I carried on with my judicial functions no one either from the Bar or from the Civil Society has raised any complaint regarding my integrity honesty and competence.
There is no complaint against me even today regarding my conduct as a Judge while discharging my judicial functions or my conduct as a judge outside the Court.
I am not guilty of any form of corruption, there is no allegation against me that I am guilty of passing any order or judgment for extraneous consideration or that I have abused my power in any way so that my family or relatives or acquaintances have amassed wealth, but sadly I am still facing a motion for impeachment.
In every case that has come so far before the Parliament for impeachment there were serious allegations of misbehaviour as a judge as contemplated under Article 124(4) read with 217 of the Constitution of India.
However my case is unique and perhaps this for the first time and hopefully the last that my conduct as a junior Advocate nearly 19 years ago is being looked into for proceeding with the Motion for impeachment despite a judgment passed by the Hon'ble Division Bench of the Hon'ble Calcutta high court clearing me of all charges.
It seems that in the wake of a tsunami like wave that has arisen in this Country, I am being swept away by such a wave. In the anxiety to take definitive action against corruption even a Judgment passed by a competent Division Bench is being completely brushed aside with the remark that the Hon'ble Judges of the Division Bench have favoured me. Parliamentary Rules barring discussion in a motion regarding abstract questions of Law which also involves such discussions in this matter has been given a go bye. Further, Parliamentary Rules also prohibits moving of a motion in relation to matter which is subjudice, in this case the main application and the suit are still pending before the Calcutta High Court. The liberty given to me by the learned single Judge by an order dated 31st July 2007 is still available to me. Even then the Motion is being proceeded with.
Respected Madam, it is needless to mention that a Judgment remains a Judgment, until it is set aside by a Higher Judicial forum. Fair criticism of a Judgment is permissible but correctness and/or incorrectness thereof cannot be questioned by any one other than before a higher judicial forum.
Respected Madam, you are perhaps aware of the Charges against me. The first charge clearly indicates that it is outside the scope and purview of Article 124(4) read with 217 of the Constitution of India, as the investigation into the said charge would necessarily be in respect of an Advocate Receiver and not a Judge in office. The Calcutta High Court is a Court of Record under Article 215 of the Constitution of India, having plenary power to punish for offences committed to it. It is needless to mention that an Advocate Receiver appointed by the Court is an office of Court and not a public servant.
Therefore only the Court appointing the Receiver has the power to either punish or exonerate its own officers. In this case my conduct as a Receiver for committing the alleged offences have been duly examined by a Division Bench, which has found me not guilty as charged. Even then impeachment proceeding has been initiated against me.
A Judge is also a citizen of this Great Nation and my fundamental right guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India cannot be denied.
The fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution of India can only be suspended in a state of emergency under Article 352 of the Constitution of India. In the instant case it has been argued in support of the Motion before the Rajya Sabha that in case of larger public interest there is no binding force of Judicial Order.
Respected Madam, I do not come from a family of Judges or politicians. I was born and brought up in Assam and came all the way to Calcutta to try my luck. By the grace of God and the hard work I put in as a Lawyer my name was suggested for being appointed as a Judge by the senior Judges of the Calcutta High court who have seen me appearing before them day after day and arguing matters with honesty integrity and competence.
I had a fairly lucrative practice which I gave up not to amass wealth by resorting to corruption but to serve the august institution being the judiciary and consequently the Nation. I have tried to serve in accordance with oath of office to the best of my ability. Therefore it hurts, when charges are leveled against me as a Judge.
My action as an Advocate has not caused prejudice to any one, who is really interested in the matter. I may have made mistakes as a junior advocate 19 years from now but then who is above making mistakes, no human being is infallible, but to accuse me of dishonest intention as a judge or otherwise I firmly repudiate and that is why in spite of being offered V.R.S (Voluntary Retirement Scheme) in lieu of resignation was not accepted by me. If I really had dishonest intention I would have taken the easy route of either resigning or accepting VRS instead of facing the ignominy of being the first Judge of Independent India to be Impeached.
It is my conviction, which I shall carry till my end, that I am not guilty as charged. Facts can be presented in either way but when there is serious lack of evidence which I have repeatedly pointed out; a High Court Judge cannot be impeached merely on the basis of presumption of guilt based upon certain error of judgment committed as a junior Advocate more than a decade prior to his elevation. It seems my conduct as a Judge in carrying out my judicial functions and out side the court as a judge has become inconsequential.
In the present mood of the Country, where the Civil Society has raised their voice against serious issues of corruptions regarding scams involving hundreds and thousands of crores, my lone voice that I am not guilty as charged cannot be heard. I wonder, whether my issue is the real issue of corruption and abuse of power by people in high places or I am being made a sacrificial lamb in the alter of justice as a showcase to tell the Nation that at least something has been done to clean the Institution from corruption.
Respected Madam, certain allegations have been leveled against me in my absence before the Rajya Sabha that I have mislead the House. I did not get any chance to rebut such allegations. Considering the fact similar procedure has been adopted before the Lok Sabha that I will not get any chance of rebuttal, I would like to bring to your kind attention certain facts which will prove beyond doubt that I have not mislead the House. The correct facts are set out in an enclosure to this letter.
Honestly and humbly I apprehend that as Hon'ble Members of Rajya Sabha of different parties have already expressed their views and I feel that it may not be reasonable for me to take the time of this August House for my defense, and also in view of the fact that I am being allotted a fixed time which I respectfully submit is inadequate, for properly making my submission before the Hon'ble House and also in view of the fact that I shall have no chance of rebuttal in respect of the submission that will be made by Hon'ble members in my absence in House, it may not be proper for me to take the time of the House further as it appears to be a foregone conclusion. This apprehension has turned into a conviction by reason of the fact that some members in spite of expressing reservations to vote in favour of the Motion but nonetheless have voted as they were morally bound to support the Motion as they have signed it, and as such I have decided humbly to submit my resignation to the Hon'ble Rastrapatiji for her kind consideration and acceptance.

Thanking you
Yours Sincerely
Soumitra Sen

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