On December 1, 2010, the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Bill revamps the present system of inquiry into complaints against judges. The case of Justice Sen was the one of the more recent instances where the integrity of judges has been called into question.
A motion was moved by 58 members of the Rajya Sabha for the removal of Justice Soumitra Sen, (a Judge of the Calcutta High Court) on grounds of misappropriation of funds. The Chairman, Rajya Sabha constituted an Inquiry Committee on March 20, 2009 to look into the matter. The Committee comprising Hon’ble Justice B. Sudershan Reddy (Chairman), Hon’ble Justice T.S.Thakur and Shri Fali S. Nariman submitted its report on September 10, 2010.
Charges framed in the Motion
The two charges which led to an investigation into alleged misconduct of Justice Soumitra Sen were:
General observations of the Committee on the case:
Facts and Findings of the investigation by the Committee:
a. During the period he was an Advocate:
b. During the period he was a Judge:
Based on the findings on the two charges the Inquiry Committee was of the opinion that Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court is guilty of “misbehaviour”.
Discussion on the first no-confidence motion of the 17th Lok Sabha began today. No-confidence motions and confidence motions are trust votes, used to test or demonstrate the support of Lok Sabha for the government in power. Article 75(3) of the Constitution states that the government is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha. This means that the government must always enjoy the support of a majority of the members of Lok Sabha. Trust votes are used to examine this support. The government resigns if a majority of members support a no-confidence motion, or reject a confidence motion.
So far, 28 no-confidence motions (including the one being discussed today) and 11 confidence motions have been discussed. Over the years, the number of such motions has reduced. The mid-1960s and mid-1970s saw more no-confidence motions, whereas the 1990s saw more confidence motions.
Figure 1: Trust votes in Parliament
Note: *Term shorter than 5 years; **6-year term.
Source: Statistical Handbook 2021, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; PRS.
The no-confidence motion being discussed today was moved on July 26, 2023. A motion of no-confidence is moved with the support of at least 50 members. The Speaker has the discretion to allot time for discussion of the motion. The Rules of Procedure state that the motion must be discussed within 10 days of being introduced. This year, the no-confidence motion was discussed 13 calendar days after introduction. Since the introduction of the no-confidence motion on July 26, 12 Bills have been introduced and 18 Bills have been passed by Lok Sabha. In the past, on four occasions, the discussion on no-confidence motions began seven days after their introduction. On these occasions, Bills and other important issues were debated before the discussion on the no-confidence motion began.
Figure 2: Members rise in support of the motion of no-confidence in Lok Sabha