PNS | New Delhi
Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court misappropriated funds worth over Rs 33 lakh as a court-appointed receiver before being elevated to the Bench, a Rajya Sabha inquiry committee was told on Sunday. Justice Sen is facing inquiry for his alleged involvement in financial irregularities, which he has vehemently denied.
Findings of the committee, which had started its inquiry proceedings on the advice of former Chief Justice KG Balakrishan, would decide the fate of the proposed impeachment motion against Justice Sen in the Rajya Sabha.
"Justice Sen, before being appointed as the Judge, has misappropriated funds of Rs 33.22 lakh as a court-appointed receiver," senior advocate Sidhartha Luthra told a three-member inquiry committee of the Rajya Sabha.
"Some questions regarding the allegations could be best answered by the judge in question himself," Luthra said while advancing final arguments before the committee comprising Supreme Court judge B Sudershan Reddy, Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mukul Mudgal and noted jurist Fali S Nariman. The committee would continue its hearing on Monday
Luthra, who is assisting the inquiry committee set up by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, read out various entries of bank accounts held by Justice Sen in his personal and professional capacity as the court-appointed receiver and highlighted the alleged discrepancies.
Asked by Nariman how the allegations of misappropriation of funds could be substantiated, the counsel said, "Over Rs 57 lakh was deposited by Justice Sen in the receivers account, but there was no evidence about where that money came from."
He also pointed out that Justice Sen never complied with the HC order asking him to reveal the source of the money as most of his bank accounts, held in personal and professional capacities, had become dormant by then.
Justice Sen, who was appointed as the judge of the High Court on December 3, 2003, is accused of misconduct. A single judge bench of the Calcutta High Court, in its order, held that Justice Sen had misappropriated the funds. Consequently, Justice Sen, in 2006, deposited Rs 57.65 lakh, the amount allegedly received by him as the receiver.
As many as 58 Rajya Sabha MPs belonging to the BJP and Left parties had moved a motion in February 2009 to impeach Justice Sen on basis of a letter written by then Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, recommending Justice Sens removal. The ruling party MPs, however, had disassociated from the petition.
Following an in-House inquiry, the then CJI had asked him to resign but Justice Sen refused to step down.