Even as the Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court, P.D. Dinakaran, assailed in the Supreme Court the committee's jurisdiction in conducting an investigation before framing of charges against him, the committee justified the probe saying it was not bound to accept the Rajya Sabha's motion as it was.
When the hearing resumed on Thursday before a vacation Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and C.K. Prasad, senior counsel Basava Prabhu Patil and counsel Romy Chack said charges were framed beyond the grounds mentioned in the motion, and based on evidence and materials collected subsequently. While the motion mentioned 12 charges, the committee framed 14 charges.
Mr. Patil argued that the committee had been following the procedure inconsistent with law, and beyond the motion, and the manner in which the charges were framed and the procedure followed for framing of charges — in conducting a preliminary investigation — were in violation of the provisions of the Judges Inquiry Act. Any investigation before framing of charges was beyond the committee's jurisdiction, and all further proceedings pursuant to such charges had no legal sanction.
He said the documents produced along with the notice sent to the petitioner under Section 3 (4) of the Judges Inquiry Act would reveal that the committee had conducted a roving inquiry into the allegations made against him, that too behind his back, much before the charges were framed. He took exception to the assistance rendered by senior counsel for the committee U.U. Lalit in framing charges against Mr. Justice Dinakaran and said the role of counsel would arise only after the framing of charges.
Earlier Mr. Lalit, through counsel on record A. Radhakrishnan, submitted that the ‘apprehension of bias' raised by the petitioner against one of the committee members, senior advocate P.P. Rao, was an afterthought, and not bona fide. He pointed out that though the committee was set up in January 2010, the objection was raised for the first time in April 2011, meant as it was to prolong the proceedings. Since the committee's term was to end on June 23, Mr. Lalit said, recusal of any member at this stage would jeopardise its working.
Justice Singhvi told senior counsel for petitioner, Amarendra Saran: “You [Mr. Justice Dinakaran] could have raised the objection in January 2010 when the committee was formed, or later. We are not dealing with a person of ordinary mind. He is a legally trained mind.”
Mr. Saran replied that the petitioner had the first chance to raise the objection only when he was served with the notice, and not before.
Mr. Lalit said: “There is a monumental task before the committee, which has to be finished by June 23, and recusal of one member would scuttle the process. Over 6,300 pages of documents have been collected, and there are 14 charges against him, including amassing of wealth beyond known sources of income and indulging in benami transactions.”
Arguments will continue on May 24.