Resignation will have no bearing on removal proceedings: forum

To ascertain what would be the effect of Justice P.D. Dinakaran's resignation from the office of the Chief Justice of Sikkim, on his removal proceedings, the three-member probe panel headed by Supreme Court Judge Aftab Alam on Friday sought his response by September 10.

The committee which also includes Chief Justice of Karnataka J.S. Khehar and Prof. Mohan Gopal decided to hear Justice Dinakaran before finalising its decision.

Sources told The Hindu that since the question before the committee was unprecedented and raised constitutional and legal issues of grave importance, the assistance of Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati had also been sought on that day. Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President Hamid Ansari had also been informed of this, sources said.

Earlier advocate R. Vaigai, convener of the Chennai-based Forum for Judicial Accountability had written a letter to the committee maintaining that the removal proceedings would not abate, notwithstanding the resignation of Justice Dinakaran submitted to President Pratibha Patil on July 29. Justice Dinakaran had also sought permission to take back his resignation.

The forum said the purpose of the impeachment process was not merely removal from office, but a more substantial one, viz. of ensuring accountability to the people whose trust was alleged to be breached and “whose confidence in the judiciary needs to be reinforced.”

It was of the view that there was no provision in the Constitution or the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1969 that “terminates or abates the proceedings on termination of the judicial office either by superannuation or by resignation.”

The forum said that neither Article 124(4) nor 124(5) placed an embargo on the initiation of the proceedings just a few days or even a day before the judge attained superannuation.

“The omission of such a limitation of time for initiation of the proceedings is significant and is a pointer to the continuation of the proceedings even after the judge's tenure is over. The entire proceedings being one of accountability to the people, it has to be completed without being stalled or terminated by the judge's conduct,” the forum said.