The panel probing charges of corruption, land grab and abuse of judicial office against Justice P.D. Dinakaran on Sunday rejected his preliminary objection that one of the members, senior advocate P.P. Rao, should not be part of the panel and that he should recuse himself from the probe.
The panel, including Justice Aftab Alam of the Supreme Court and Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, which had issued the charge sheet to Justice Dinakaran in March, met on Sunday and dismissed Justice Dinakaran's application. Mr. Rao did not participate in Sunday's meeting when this application was discussed. He participated in the meeting subsequently.
On the plea for Mr. Rao's recusal, the other two members said the stage and time when the objection was raised gave suspicion that his object was to somehow delay the proceedings. They pointed out that the panel was bound, under law, to submit the report by June 23 and Justice Dinakaran was due to retire on May 9, 2012. If sufficient delay was caused, there would be loss of time and wastage of public money and the whole proceedings would be rendered meaningless, they said, and rejected the plea for the recusal of Mr. Rao and requested him to continue.
Within few minutes of the two members passing this order, the panel again met and in this meeting, Mr. Rao participated to consider another application of Justice Dinakaran seeking certain documents and stay of proceedings until they were supplied.
The three-member panel, in a separate order, noted that the documents sought by Justice Dinakaran were intended only to further delay the proceedings. It said though the list of charges had been supplied to Justice Dinakaran, so far he had not indicated which of those charges he was contesting. Justice Dinakaran must live up to the dignity of high office he was holding and facilitate the completion of enquiry against him considering the fact that he was due to retire on May 9, 2012.
The panel which was to begin hearing on the removal proceedings on Monday, granted a day's time for Justice Dinakaran to file his response to the charge sheet and posted the matter to April 26. Since Justice Dinakaran raised only preliminary objections, so far he had not filed reply to the charges.
The charges against him were levelled when he was Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court. He was subsequently transferred to the Sikkim High Court.
Justice Dinakaran, in his application, said Mr. Rao was part of a delegation of lawyers which met the then Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, in 2009 to oppose his elevation to the Supreme Court. Further, he said, the committee had acted beyond the scope and jurisdiction of the Judges (Inquiry) Act by conducting an investigation before the framing of charges. Justice Dinakaran said the panel could not go beyond what was contained in the motion admitted in the Rajya Sabha and that it had no jurisdiction to examine witnesses at the pre-enquiry stage.