Panel permission neither contrary to Judges Inquiry Act nor violative of his rights

The Supreme Court has upheld the permission granted by the probe panel to Forum for Judicial Accountability convener R. Vaigai to watch the proceedings of the inquiry against Justice P.D. Dinakaran and assist it through counsel.

Dismissing a writ petition fled by Justice Dinakaran, a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and C.K. Prasad said the committee's order “is neither contrary to the provisions of the Judges Inquiry Act, nor [has] it violated any of his constitutional or legal rights.”

On July 19, the Bench had dismissed the petition, saying it would give reasons later. Now, in its order, it said: “She [Ms. Vaigai] or the organisation represented by her has no independent right of intervention or any right as a third party to the proceedings.” Section 4 of the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, empowered the committee, subject to any rule that might be made in this behalf, to regulate its procedure in making the investigation. In the rules, there was no provision that expressly or by implication barred the presence of any third party that might have a sufficient interest in the proceedings.

“Further, the permission accorded to Ms. Vaigai is fully supported by an earlier precedent. Before the Justice Sawant Committee, the parties, at whose instance the proceedings were initiated and who were supporting the charges against [the] judge [Justice V. Ramaswamy], were also allowed limited intervention on the same terms as in the present case,” the Bench said.

Ms. Vaigai was not a meddlesome interloper qua the proceedings initiated against the petitioner. “She is convener of the Forum, which made representations to various constitutional functionaries and MPs, and ultimately, 50 members of the Rajya Sabha moved the motion for removal of the petitioner from the office of Chief Justice.”

“The committee [headed by Supreme Court Judge Aftab Alam] has simply allowed her to remain present and watch the proceedings and assist it through counsel. Therefore, there is no merit in the argument of Amarendra Sharan, senior counsel for the petitioner, that the impugned orders are contrary to the provisions of the statute.”

The charges of land-grab and encroachment on government land, among others, were levelled against Justice Dinakaran when he was Chief Justice of Karnataka. Later he was transferred as Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court.

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