The Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, P.D. Dinakaran, one of five judges recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court of India was summoned to New Delhi by the Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, last week in connection with allegations made against him by members of the Bar. The allegations relate to his acquisition of “huge assets” — including a large extent of land holdings beyond the ceiling limit stipulated by the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act.
According to highly placed sources, the CJI acted on a representation made in person by senior lawyers Fali Nariman and Shanti Bhushan on September 9 on the basis of a detailed letter of complaint from several lawyers based in Chennai. The letter, which was sent under the auspices of the Forum for Judicial Accountability, levels serious charges of land grabbing and other “irregularities” against Justice Dinakaran.
In the meeting that took place on September 11 at the residence of the CJI, in which some senior Supreme Court judges participated, Justice Dinakaran was confronted with the allegations made in the lawyers’ complaint. It was understood that he gave his explanation, denying each of the allegations. He left for Bangalore on Saturday morning.
After detailing the allegations, the lawyers’ letter requested the CJI and other Judges in the collegium, namely Justice B.N. Agrawal, Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Tarun Chatterjee and Justice Altamas Kabir, “not to appoint” Justice Dinakaran as a Supreme Court judge and to “initiate a thorough enquiry into all the allegations” against him and "take appropriate action thereafter.”
Thereafter the senior lawyers wrote to President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking their intervention and calling for a probe into the allegations before notifying the appointment of Justice Dinakaran to the Supreme Court. The file now pending in the Union Law Ministry will go to the Prime Minister for his consent before reaching the President for her approval. “You will agree,” the senior lawyers concluded, “that the consequences will be far more serious if a person lacking integrity is appointed as a Supreme Court Judge than delaying the appointment of a person against whom the charges may not be eventually established.”
Meanwhile, in a statement, the Chairman of the Bar Council of India, Suraj Narain Prasad Sinha, said the matter raised by Fali Nariman and other leaders of the Bar on the question of recommendation of one of the judges for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court was “very serious.” Mr. Sinha added: “It needs urgent deliberation by the Chief Justice of India, Members of the collegium, the Prime Minister and the Union Law Minister in order to save the image, majesty and grandeur of the highest judicial body of the country.”