The three-member committee constituted by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari will hold its first meeting here on Sunday to begin the probe into the allegations of land-grab, encroachment and purchase of property against Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran.
Highly placed sources told The Hindu that the informal meeting with no specific agenda would be held at the residence of the chairperson, Justice V.S. Sirpurkar of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, Justice A.R. Dave, and senior advocate P.P. Rao are the other members.
The sources said the meeting would try to work out the modalities for conducting the probe and formulate the broad areas to be investigated in the removal proceedings against Justice Dinakaran admitted in the Rajya Sabha. No time limit could be fixed at this stage for completion of the probe, the sources said.
Meanwhile, the Chennai-based Forum for Judicial Accountability on Friday sent a representation to Justice Sirpurkar and the two members to defer the proceedings until the Rajya Sabha Chairman took a decision on its plea for reconstitution of the committee.
The FJA said its four petitions last year to the Supreme Court collegium, the Supreme Court and MPs led to the removal proceedings. After the probe panel was constituted, the FJA on January 20 requested the Rajya Sabha Chairman to reconstitute the committee as there was a reasonable apprehension of bias due to past association/conduct of two members, “which is likely to affect the neutrality and fairness of the enquiry and findings.” On January 25, the representation was forwarded to the Rajya Sabha Secretary-General and further communication awaited, the FJA said.
The forum said: “It is fundamental that bias is antithetical to due process of law, erodes the credibility of enquiry and is against the public interest. The Supreme Court in more than one case has held that allegations of bias go to the very root of the jurisdiction. Since the petitioner's representation for reconstitution of the committee on the ground of bias is receiving attention of the authority which constituted the committee, it is proper that in the public interest, the present committee defers its proceedings until a decision is taken on the petitioner's representation dated January 20.”
By another representation, the FJA said: “It is in possession of facts, material and information, which are relevant and crucial for a proper determination of the issues to be investigated by this committee. It is, therefore, eminently just and proper that the petitioner-forum be allowed to participate and be heard during the course of the investigation and proceedings by the committee.”
It pointed out that there was already a precedent for such a course in the case of a similar investigation under the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968 against Justice V. Ramaswami, former Supreme Court judge.