Sunday, May 15, 2011

SC to hear Sikkim High Court Justice Dinakaran's plea tomorrow

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will hear tomorrow the petition filed by Sikkim High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran alleging bias on the part of a Rajya Sabha- appointed panel probing charges of judicial misconduct and corruption against him.

The apex court on April 29 had stayed the probe by the committee after Justice Dinakaran had expressed apprehension of a biased probe due to the presence of senior advocate P P Rao in the panel and posted the matter for hearing before a vacation court.

It had asked the three-member panel headed by Justice Aftab Alam of the Supreme Court to respond to the plea by Justice Dinakaran seeking recusal of Rao from the panel.

Besides Justice Alam and Rao, the third member of the panel is Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J S Khehar.

Justice Dinakaran, 61, has pleaded that Rao along with other lawyers had campaigned against his elevation to the Supreme Court which was later put on hold.

He said that Rao was part of a delegation of lawyers, which had met the previous Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan in 2009 to oppose his elevation to the apex court.

The inclusion of Rao in the probe-panel indicates the possibility of bias in probe against him, he said.

Justice Dinakaran, in his petition said, "If there is reasonable likelihood of bias it is in accordance with natural justice and common sense that the judge likely to be so biased should be incapacitated from sitting. The basic principle underlying the rule is that justice must not only be done but must also appear to be done."

The judge has contended that the decision of the panel rejecting his plea for recusal of Rao was in violation of natural justice.

"The impugned order passed by the Judges Inquiry Committee allowing a biased member to continue to serve as a member of the committee is hit by the principles of natural justice and, hence, violative of Article 14 of the Constitution," he said.

He pleaded that the apex court should quash the order passed by the panel on the issue of Rao's recusal.

The panel, appointed by Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari after the House initiated impeachment motion against Justice Dinakaran, had asked him to respond to 16 charges framed against him.

The charges included possession of wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income and illegal encroachment on public property and land belonging to Dalits and other weaker sections.

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