When there is reasonable apprehension of bias against one member, the enquiry committee, probing corruption and other charges against him could not proceed further, the Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court, P.D. Dinakaran, argued in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Senior counsel Amarendra Saran and counsel Romy Chacko, appearing for Justice Dinakaran, making this submission before a vacation Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and C.K. Prasad pointed out that the Committee had passed orders on Justice Dinakaran's application raising the question of bias without even hearing him.
On April 29, the Supreme Court had stayed all further proceedings before the committee headed by Supreme Court Judge Aftab Alam and the vacation Bench is hearing the validity of the order passed by the committee on April 24 disallowing Justice Dinakaran's plea that senior advocate P.P. Rao must recuse himself from the panel.
On Wednesday, counsel Prashant Bhushan appearing for the Forum for Judicial Accountability submitted that the Forum should be allowed to make its submissions opposing Justice Dinakaran's petition. He said that since the entire removal proceedings was based on the complaint of the Forum, it had a locus standi to oppose the petition.
Mr. Saran, however, quoting various Supreme Court judgments argued that in removal proceedings concerning a judge, no third party could intervene as that would prejudice the Judge against whom the proceedings were initiated.
The Bench, however, drew the attention of Mr. Saran to the fact that the committee had already permitted the Forum to intervene in the proceedings through its senior counsel Uday Lalit and that order had not been challenged in the Supreme Court. The Bench permitted Mr. Bhushan to make submissions in the petition filed by Justice Dinakaran.
Mr. Saran said once the apprehension of bias was raised against a member, an order compelling the said member to continue to serve was fraught with disastrous consequences impinging on his fundamental rights. Counsel argued that the yardstick was the reasonable apprehension about the likelihood of bias against Mr. Rao in the mind of the person complaining and not actual bias.
He alleged that Mr. Rao was a member of the delegation, which met the former Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, and made a representation that Justice Dinakaran should not be elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court. He rejected as baseless the committee's order that Justice Dinakaran was trying to delay the proceedings saying that as early as in May 2010 Justice Dinakaran had requested the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha to expedite the proceedings.
Arguments will continue on Thursday.