President refers Sen's resignation to Department of Justice

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Justice Soumitra Sen
New Delhi, Sep 2: President Pratibha Patil has referred to Department of Justice the resignation of Calcutta High Court judge Justice Soumitra Sen, five days before the Lok Sabha to take up an impeachment motion against him as it was not in proper form.

The President's decision came amid a debate among legal and constitutional experts as to whether or not the Lok Sabha should proceed with the scheduled impeachment proceedings next Monday after Sen's resignation.

Justice Sen had faxed his resignation to the President on  to perhaps avoid the ignominy of becoming the first judge to be impeached by Parliament but according to the rules, the letter needs to be in his own handwriting and not in copy form, official sources said today.

The sources said the President referred the resignation to the Justice department with a note that faxed resignation is not acceptable and it needs to be in original and signed in his own handwriting.

In Kolkata, Sen's lawyer Subash Bhattacharya said the resignation letter in original has been signed by the judge and sent by courier to the President and Speaker Meira Kumar.

The Rajya Sabha has already passed the motion against Justice Sen, the first judge to have been impeached by the Upper House for misconduct.

Justice Sen was found guilty of misappropriating Rs 33.23 lakh under his custody as a court-appointed receiver in the capacity as a lawyer, and misrepresenting facts before a Calcutta court in a 1983 case.

In his letter to the President, Justice Sen said, "I am not guilty of any form of corruption".

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla felt there is no scope for any discussion in the Lok Sabha but said the Government would have to ascertain the rules on the issue before any decision is taken.

"I don't think there is any scope for discussion now, after Justice Soumitra Sen's resignation," Shukla told reporters in Delhi.

Legal and constitutional experts said Sen's resignation has put the ball in President's court since she has to now decide whether to accept his resignation or leave it to the Lower House to proceed with impeachment proceedings.

PTI

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