4 Motion for Removal of Mr. Justice Soumitra Sen: ANNEXURE @ Pages 2-3
The text of the letter written by Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan
to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recommending removal of Mr. Justice
Soumitra Sen, Judge of the Calcutta High Court.
Dated: 4 August, 2008
Dear Prime Minister,
I write this to recommend that the proceedings contemplated by Article 217(1)
read with Article 124(4) of the Constitution be initiated for removal of Mr. Justice
Soumitra Sen, Judge, Calcutta High Court.
2. Mr. Justice Soumitra Sen was a practising advocate of Calcutta High Court before he was appointed as a Judge of that High Court, with effect from
December 3, 2003. In Civil Suit No. 8 of 1983, filed by Steel Authority of India Limited against Shipping Corporation of India Limited and Ors., Calcutta High Court vide order dated April 30, 1984 appointed him as a Receiver to make an inventory of certain goods which had been imported and then rejected by Steel Authority of India Limited and to sell those goods and hold the sale proceeds to the credit of the Suit. After preparation of inventory and sale of the goods, the Receiver was directed to deduct 5% of the sale price towards his remuneration, keep the balance in a separate bank account in a bank of his choice and to hold the same free from lien or encumbrances, subject to further orders of the Court.
3. Justice Soumitra Sen was also appointed as a Special Officer by Calcutta
High Court in another case (an Appeal arising out of C.P. No. 226 of 1996). In
that case (C.P. No. 226 of 1996), the High Court had directed payment of
Rs. 70,00,000/- to the workers of Calcutta Fans, a company in liquidation and
Mr. Justice Soumitra Sen, then a practising Advocate, was appointed as a
Special Officer to disburse that amount to the workers, S.B. Account No.
01SLP0013400 was opened by him for that purpose and the amount of
Rs. 70,00,000/- meant for disbursement for workers was deposited in that
account on February 7, 1997. A sum of Rs. 25,00,000/- from Special Officer’s
account was invested by Justice Soumitra Sen with a company M/s. Lynx India
Ltd., which, later on went into liquidation.
4. On March 7, 2002, Steel Authority of India Limited (Plaintiff) wrote a letter
to the Receiver asking him to furnish information and detailed particulars about
the sale proceeds received by him and the amount of interest which had
accrued thereon. The Receiver did not supply the information sought by the
Plaintiff. Thereupon, the Plaintiffs filed an application (GA No. 875/2003) for
direction to the Receiver to handover the sale proceeds and render true and
faithful account of all the moneys held by him. No affidavit was, however, filed
by the Receiver inspite of the notice being served on him. When the application
came-up for hearing before a Single Judge of the Calcutta High Court, the
Receiver, who, by that time been elevated to the Calcutta High Court, did not
come forward to assist the Court either by filing an affidavit or by giving
information through any lawyer or recognised agent, despite service of the copy
of the application on him.
5. The High Court, then proceeded to summon the purchaser of goods as
well as various bank officials and vide order dated April 10, 2006 noted that
the Receiver had collected in all, a sum of Rs. 33,22,800/- from the purchaser
of goods and the amount thus collected had been kept by the Receiver in
S.B. A/c No. 01SLP0632800 with Standard & Chartered Bank (erstwhile ANZ
Grindlays Bank) and Account No. 9902 with Allahabad Bank, Stephen House
Branch, Calcutta and was later on withdrawn and diverted by him. Drafts
amounting to Rs. 28,72,800/- were encashed in Account No. 01SLP0632800
with Standard & Chartered Bank and drafts of Rs. 4,50,000/- were encashed
in Account No. 9902 of Allahabad Bank. The High Court found that Demand
Drafts amounting to Rs. 28,72,800/- were encashed in S.B. Account No.
01SLP0632800 with Standard Chartered Bank. On April 19, 1995 and May 6,
1995 a sum of Rs. 8,73,968/- was withdrawn from S.B. Account No.
01SLP0632800 to invest in an FDR, which, later on, along with accrued interest
(total amounting to Rs. 10,91,011.49) was brought back by encashment on
May 22, 1997. Another sum of Rs. 11,92,909.92 was also brought back in
that account on May 22, 1997. A sum of Rs. 22,83,000/- was transferred, on
the instructions of the Receiver, from that account to S.B. A/c No.
01SLP0813400 (the account opened by him as Special Officer in case of
Calcutta Fans) in the same bank on May 22, 1997.
6. The entire amount in the bank accounts was gradually withdrawn by the
Receiver so as to reduce the balance to Rs. 811.56 in S.B. A/c No.
01SLP0813400 and Rs. 2,340.08 in S.B. A/c No. 01SLP0632800 as on
May 31, 1999. Both the Accounts were closed on March 22, 2000 and
May 21, 2002 respectively.
7. The learned Single Judge of Calcutta High Court concluded that the Receiver
had converted and appropriated, prima facie, the said amount, lying in his
custody, without authority of the Court and the act & conduct of the erstwhile
Receiver was nothing short of criminal misappropriation. The learned Judge noted
that the Receiver having been entrusted with the money by the Court and being
an Officer of the Court, was required to keep it in a S.B. Account and ought not
to have withdrawn the same without specific leave of the Court. The Court felt
that the Receiver had betrayed the trust and confidence reposed in him by the
Court and therefore had to make good of the losses suffered for his act.
8. The learned Judge, after adjustment of the amount deposited by the Receiver
during the pendency of the application, directed him to deposit
Rs. 52,46,454/- which included interest on the amount appropriated by him.
Pursuant to the above-referred order of Calcutta High Court, Justice Soumitra
Sen (the erstwhile Receiver) deposited money in terms of the Order of the
Court. In all, a total sum of Rs. 57,65,204/- was deposited by him.
9. Reports appeared in newspapers concerning the conduct of Justice
Soumitra Sen in the above-noted matter. The then Chief Justice of Calcutta
High Court withdrew judicial work from him and wrote a letter dated
November 25, 2006 to my learned predecessor bringing the matter to his notice
for appropriate action.
10. On July 1, 2007 I sought a comprehensive report from the Chief Justice of
Calcutta High Court along with his views about Justice Soumitra Sen. On
July 12, 2007 Justice Soumitra Sen called on me, on advice of his Chief Justice
and verbally explained his conduct. He sent his report to me on
August 20, 2007.
11. After depositing the money, Justice Soumitra Sen filed an application bearing
No. GA 3763 of 2006 praying for recalling/withdrawing/deleting the observations
made against him in the order dated April 10, 2006. The application was
dismissed by the learned Single Judge of the High Court, vide order dated
July 31, 2007. An Appeal was filed by the mother of Justice Soumitra Sen
challenging the order of the learned Single Judge dated July 31, 2007. Vide order
dated September 25, 2007 a Division Bench of Calcutta High Court noted that
the erstwhile Receiver had complied with direction of the Court by depositing
the entire amount, besides a substantial amount towards interest. The Division
Bench felt that the scope and ambit of the application No. GA 875/2003, filed
by Steel Authority of India Limited, did not contemplate any enquiry into the
personal accounts of erstwhile Receiver. The Division Bench noted that the parties
to the Suit never made any allegation of misappropriation by the Receiver and
that the Receiver had never refused to discharge his obligation to refund the money
held by him. The Division Bench did not find any material to say that the erstwhile
Receiver utilised any amount for his personal gain and felt that the observations/
remarks against the erstwhile Receiver were uncalled for and unwarranted. The
Division Bench was of the view that the learned Single Judge had travelled beyond
the scope and ambit of the application filed by the Plaintiff. The Division Bench
directed the Department to delete all the observations made against the erstwhile
Receiver in the order passed by the learned Single Judge on April 10, 2006.
12. On 10 September, 2007 I had asked Justice Soumitra Sen to furnish his
fresh and final response to the judicial observations made against him. After
seeking more time for this purpose he furnished his response on
28 September, 2007 requesting that he may be allowed to resume duties in
view of the order of the Division Bench of Calcutta High Court.
13. Since I felt that a deeper probe was required to be made into the allegations
made against Justice Soumitra Sen, to bring the matter to a logical conclusion,
I constituted a three Member Committee consisting of Justice A.P. Shah (Chief
Justice, Madras High Court), Justice A.K. Patnaik (Chief Justice, High Court of
Madhya Pradesh) and Justice R.M. Lodha (Judge, Rajasthan High Court), as
envisaged in the ‘In-House Procedure’ adopted by Supreme Court and various
High Courts, to conduct a fact finding enquiry, wherein the Judge concerned
would be entitled to appear and have his say in the proceedings.
14. The Committee submitted its report dated 1 February, 2008, after calling
for relevant records and considering the submission made by Justice Soumitra
Sen, who appeared in-person before the Committee. The Committee inter-alia
(a) Shri Soumitra Sen did not have honest intention right from the year
1993 since he mixed the money received as a Receiver and his
personal money and converted Receiver’s money to his own use:
(b) There has been misappropriation (at least temporary) of the sale
(i) he received Rs. 24,57,000/- between 25 February, 1993 to
10 January, 1995 but the balance in the Account No.
01SLPO632800 on 28 February, 1995 was only
(ii) a sum of Rs. 22,83,000/- was transferred by him from that
account to Account No. 01SLPO813400 and, thereafter,
almost entire amount was withdrawn in a couple of months
reducing the balance to the bare minimum of Rs. 811.56, thus,
diverting the entire sale proceeds for his own use and with
(c) he gave false explanation to the Court that an amount of
Rs. 25,00,000/- was invested from the account where the
sale proceeds were kept, whereas, in fact, the amount of
Rs. 25,00,000/- was withdrawn from Special Officer’s Account No.
01SLPO813400 and not from 01SLPO632800, in which the sale
proceeds were deposited;
(d) mere monetary recompense under the compulsion of judicial order
does not obliterate breach of trust and misappropriation of
Receiver’s funds for his personal gain;
(e) the conduct of Shri Soumitra Sen had brought disrepute to the high
judicial office and dishonour to the institution of judiciary,
undermining the faith and confidence reposed by the public in the
administration of justice.
In the opinion of the Committee misconduct disclosed is so serious that it calls
for initiation of proceedings for his removal.
15. A copy of the Report dated 6 February, 2008 of the Committee was
forwarded by me to Justice Soumitra Sen and in terms of the In-House
procedure, he was advised to resign or seek voluntary retirement. Thereupon,
Justice Soumitra Sen made a detailed representation dated 25 February, 2008
seeking reconsideration of the decision of his removal and sought a personal
hearing. On 16 March, 2008 a Collegium consisting of myself, Justice B.N.
Agrawal and Justice Ashok Bhan (Seniormost Judges of Supreme Court) gave
a hearing to Justice Soumitra Sen and reiterated the advice given to him to
submit his resignation or seek voluntary retirement on or before
2 April, 2008. However, vide his letter dated 26 March, 2008 Justice Soumitra
Sen expressed his inability to tender resignation or seek voluntary retirement.
In view of the foregoing, it is requested that proceedings for removal of Justice
Soumitra Sen be initiated in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the
With warm regards,
Hon’ble Dr. Manmohan Singh,
Prime Minister of India,
7, Race Course Road,