SC stays impeachment proceedings against Dinakaran

A Rajya Sabha-appointed inquiry panel is probing the charges of land grabbing against him.

Updated: Apr 29, 2011, 13:07 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed
the pre-impeachment probe by a Rajya Sabha-appointed panel
into allegations of judicial misconduct and corruption against
Sikkim High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran.

The apex court passed the order on a plea by Justice
Dinakaran, expressing apprehension of biased probe against him
by the three-member panel, comprising Justice Aftab Alam of
the apex court, Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J S Khehar
and senior advocate P P Rao.
Senior advocate Amrendra Saran, appearing for the
61-year-old judge, pleaded before the apex court bench of
justices H S Bedi and C K Prasad that Rao was part of
a delegation of lawyers, which had met the erstwhile Chief
Justice of India K G Balakrishnan in 2009 to oppose his
elevation to the Supreme Court.

Inclusion of advocate Rao in the probe-panel indicates
the possibility of bias in probe against the judge, he said.

The bench after hearing his contentions, stayed the
panel`s proceedings and issued notices to it, its chairman
Justice Aftab Alam and advocate Rao.

Justice Dinakaran, in his petition to the apex court,
said, "If there is reasonable likelihood of bias it is in
accordance with natural justice and common sense that the
judge likely to be so biased should be incapacitated from
sitting. The basic principle underlying the rule is that
justice must not only be done but must also appear to be
done," he said.

Challenging the panel`s decision of rejecting his plea,
the judge pleaded that it was in violation of natural justice.

"The impugned order passed by the Judges Inquiry Committee
allowing a biased member to continue to serve as a member of
the committee is hit by the principles of natural justice and,
hence, violative of Article 14 of the Constitution," he said.

He pleaded that the apex court should quash the order
passed by the panel on the issue of Rao`s recusal.

The panel had on April 24 rejected Dinakaran`s plea
against Rao saying the objection should have been raised at
the start of the proceedings. Rao did not participate in the
meeting when this application was discussed.

The panel had also rejected his plea of staying the
proceedings till he is supplied with all documents in the
Charges against Justice Dinakaran, who is due to retire on
May 9, 2012, were levelled when he was Chief Justice of the
Karnataka High Court. He was subsequently transferred to the
Sikkim High Court.

According to the judge, the panel is acting in
contravention of Article 124 and 121 by raking up personal
issues against him and his family members although the said
constitutional provisions expressly barred any such reference
of a high court or Supreme Court judge`s personal life.

The panel, appointed by Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid
Ansari after the House initiated impeachment motion against
him, had asked Dinakaran to respond to the 16 charges framed
against him.

The charges against Dinakaran include possession of wealth
disproportionate to his known sources of income and illegal
encroachment on public property and land belonging to Dalits
and other weaker sections.

He is also accused of having five Tamil Nadu Housing Board
plots in the name of his wife and two daughters, benami
transactions, acquiring and possessing agricultural holdings
beyond the ceiling fixed by the TN Land Reforms Act 1961,
destruction of evidence, undervaluation of sale agreements,
evasion of stamp duty and illegal constructions.

He has also been accused of resorting to irregular and
dishonest administrative actions by fixing rosters of judges
to facilitate dishonest judicial decisions while he was the
Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court.