The Chennai-based Forum for Judicial Accountability (FJA) has requested Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari to reconstitute the three-member committee to probe the charges against Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran as contained in the proceedings initiated in Parliament for his removal.
“The composition of the committee appointed on January 15 under the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968 is quite disconcerting,” said advocates R. Vaigai, Sriram Panchu, Anna Mathew, Sudha Ramalingam, S.S. Vasudevan, S. Devika, T. Mohan, Geeta Ramaseshan, N.L. Rajah and D. Nagasaila, who signed the representation.
“As members of the Forum which first submitted representations in September-October 2009 to the collegium of the Supreme Court bringing to light the allegations that led to the impeachment [removal] proceedings, we make this representation to you.
“Two of the members, viz., Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and P.P. Rao, senior advocate, are persons who know Justice Dinakaran quite well and therefore may not be fit to judge his conduct. The well-known principle of ‘disqualification by association’ leads to their automatic exclusion from being members of the committee.”
The Forum pointed out that Justice Sirpurkar was a judge of the Madras High Court from December 1997 till 2003.
Throughout those six years, Justice Dinakaran was also a judge of the Madras High Court.
“They have functioned together on Division Benches, shared administrative work, and interacted with each other at several official and social functions. Of all the judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Sirpurkar would have the most association with Justice Dinakaran.”
As for Mr. Rao, the Forum said he had been consulted by Justice Dinakaran in December 2009 in the context of the allegations faced by him and when news of proceedings for his removal appeared in the media.
The proceedings for removal of a judge had been envisaged by the Constitution to preserve the independence of the judiciary. The proper constitution of the committee was therefore crucial to the process and its members must not only be impartial but also must appear to be impartial. This would exclude any person who had had an association with the person “whose acts are to be gone into.”
“In public interest”
The Forum requested that the committee be reconstituted “with a Supreme Court judge who is not from the Madras or Karnataka High Court, and a jurist who has had no association with Justice Dinakaran. We make this request purely in the public interest and with all due respect to Justice Sirpurkar and Mr. Rao, on whom we do not intend to cast any aspersions.”
Stop land survey
In another representation, the Forum requested Mr. Ansari to direct that the enquiry into or survey by the Survey of India of the land holdings of Justice Dinakaran at Kaverirajapuram in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvallur District be stopped forthwith.
For, the survey was wholly without authority once the motion for the removal of Justice Dinakaran had been admitted in Parliament. The action of the Survey of India was clearly an intrusion into Parliament’s powers, the Forum said.