Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari's office has advised Justice V.S. Sirpurkar panel to act as per law in the matter of investigating allegations of corruption and land grabbing against the Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court, P.D. Dinakaran. Being a panel with all the powers of a civil court, it was free to frame its procedures, it has been conveyed to the panel.
This is in response to the panel wanting certain clarifications and details from Rajya Sabha members who moved a motion for Justice Dinakaran's removal from office. The judge's removal was sought by 75 Opposition members.
The three-member committee at its last meeting held on August 1 after discussing the charge sheet to be given to Justice Dinakaran, sought clarifications from Rajya Sabha Chairman on certain charges.
The Committee comprising its Chairperson, Justice V.S. Sirpurkar, Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court J.S. Khehar and senior advocate P.P. Rao, went through the charges formulated and found some more details were needed before the charges could be framed. Hence the committee wrote to Mr. Ansari whether any or some of the Members of Parliament who had signed the memorandum leading to the motion being admitted in Parliament, would be able to give these clarifications.
For the purposes of investigation, the Committee under Section 5 of the Judges Inquiry Act, has the powers of a civil court in summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath; requiring the discovery and production of documents; receiving evidence on oath; issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents and such other matters as may be prescribed.
Well placed sources said the Chairman's role was limited to setting up a committee and receiving its report. The panel's move to write to him for seeking more details from MPs may involve parliamentary privilege of MPs. Also, it may be caught up in procedural wrangling; if a MP comes up with some response, it would tend to be taken as evidence on record subject to cross-examination. The matter would have to be examined in that light if the panel moves formally for seeking more details from MPs, the sources said.
The committee is to meet again on September 12 to consider the reply sent by the Rajya Sabha Chairman and decide the future course of action. It is yet to take any decision on the representation of advocate R. Vaigai of the Chennai-based Forum for Judicial Accountability that the Forum's objections be heard during the probe.
The allegations against Justice Dinakaran include “possessing wealth disproportionate to the known sources of his income, land-grabbing, entering into benami transactions, undervaluation of his property, illegal encroachment on government and public property to deprive Dalits and the poor of their livelihoods.”
He has also been accused of “abuse of judicial office” to pass “dishonest judicial orders” and to “take irregular administrative actions.