No doubt about Sen’s guilt: Ex-CJI Balakrishnan
Attacked by Justice Soumitra Sen for wrongly recommending his impeachment, former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan today said there is no doubt about the Calcutta High Court Judge’s guilt.
“There was ample proof against him. Many committees found him guilty. Though the impeachment is a sad chapter in our judicial history, he left us with no alternative. He was throughout trying to mislead everybody,” Justice Balakrishnan told The Indian Express.
As CJI, it was Justice Balakrishnan who had recommended Sen’s impeachment in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 4, 2008.
Presenting his defence before the Rajya Sabha on August 18, Sen had accused Balakrishnan of wrongly recommending his impeachment despite lack of proof. On the contrary, he had added, the former CJI had swept serious charges against other Judges under the carpet.
Justice Sen had also alleged that Balakrishnan and two other seniormost Judges of the apex court — Justices B N Agrawal and Ashok Bhan — had asked him to take VRS so that he could be adjusted in some public sector undertaking.
Asked about this, the ex-CJI said: “What VRS? And, how could we offer to get him a job in some PSU? Where is our power to get something like this done? On 16th March, 2008, I called him to my house where Justice Agrawal and Justice Bhan were also present. We reiterated the advice given to him to submit his resignation or seek voluntary retirement. We told him that with the kind of charges against him, while it may not be possible for him to return to active practice, he could always try for a job in the public sector. However, on March 26, 2008, he wrote to me, expressing his inability to tender resignation or take voluntary retirement. It was then that I wrote to Prime Minister.”
Asked for his reaction to Justice Sen’s claim that the “in-house” procedure was unconstitutional, Justice Balakrishnan said the procedure had been adopted by the Supreme Court and high courts.
On whether he agreed with the unanimous opinion of the political class — as was evident from the Rajya Sabha debate on Sen’s impeachment — that the collegium system of appointment of judges had failed, Balakrishnan said: “They can have an opinion. Let them try another system.”
The former CJI also disclosed that in light of the fact that Sen, whose conduct as a lawyer left much to be desired, became a Judge, the collegium changed the performa that lawyers being considered for elevation to the Bench had to fill. “While earlier, lawyers had to give details only about cases, if any, against them or conviction, after Justice Sen’s experience, we changed the performa. Now we ask them to also inform us if they had ever been appointed receiver by any court and if they were keeping any monies with regard to that receivership. Also, if they were in any litigation about the receivership or any loan,” said Balakrishnan.