Members in the Rajya Sabha on Friday pushed for amendments to the Constitution to disallow a judge from resigning if impeachment motion is in progress and has not been completed, an instance witnessed in the case of Kolkata High Court Judge Soumitra Sen last year.

During a debate on a private member bill moved by veteran journalist and nominated member H K Dua, both Congress and BJP members supported proposed amendments to the Articles of the Constitution which deal with removal of judges.

They suggested Law Minister Ashwani Kumar to get it as government bill.

Initiating the debate, Dua said, “By resigning, Soumitra Sen avoided the stigma of being impeached. ...my amendments provide to fill this lacuna in the Constitution. The lacuna was one judge resigns, it is taken as accepted and President has no role.”

The proposed amendments to Articles 124 and 217 seeks to make it mandatory to take approval of President on resignation of a judge who is facing any proceedings or removal, he said.

“If these provisions are accepted, I think in future, no judge will get away from proceedings (impeachment),” he said.

Under the current rule, if a judge submits his or her resignation to the President even while facing impeachment, the resignation will automatically come into effect and the impeachment proceedings will abruptly come to an end. Even if one of the Houses passes a resolution for the judge’s removal, the other House will not take it up for discussion.

Supporting the bill, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said: “Amongst all pillars of the state, there is no transparency in judiciary. How appointments are made, there is no transparency; how it is functioning, there is no transparency; and how in-house enquiry is conducted, there is no transparency.

“Therefore, if judges facing enquiry frustrate, we are adding to the dust that we sweep below the carpet. I think this matter need extensive consideration. Private member bills are normally considered as food for thought. The Law Minister should consider these amendments,” he said.

(This article was published on December 7, 2012)
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