Panel admits exceeding scope of charges against judge

Panel admits exceeding scope of charges against judge

  In an important development, senior advocate Uday U Lalit made the admission before a vacation Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and C K Prasad. “The committee is not supposed to go by the motion only. We accept it candidly that there have been improvements (changes) in the framing of charges,” Lalit said. Justice Dinakaran has challenged the composition of the inquiry committee set up under the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, by alleging that the inclusion of senior advocate P P Rao as jurist in the committee had created a “reasonable apprehension of bias” against him as the counsel had drafted a resolution of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and made a speech against him to oppose his purported elevation to the apex Court.

In another petition, he contended that the committee had exceeded its brief by issuing 16 charges against him as against the 12 charges deemed by the Rajya Sabha after admission of the impeachment motion.

Earlier on Thursday, the Bench told Dinakaran that he could have raised the objection on the inclusion of Rao in January 2010 when the panel was formed, or later.

The court, which concluded hearing Dinakaran’s petition seeking recusal of Rao from the committee, is likely to resume hearing on another petition from him questioning the framing of 16 charges as  against 12 mooted in the impeachment motion. Appearing for Justice Dinakaran, former Chief Justice of Karnataka, senior advocate Basava Prabhu Patil told the court  how the committee had gone beyond the scope given to it by reading out the charges framed against Dinakaran on March 16.

Patil objected to the assistance given by an advocate to the committee in the framing of charges, in an obvious allusion to Lalit. “There is no occasion for appointment of a counsel for the committee as charges are to be framed by it only not with assistance of a lawyer,” he said.

Lalit stood up immediately and submitted that he would like to withdraw from the case as he could not defend himself.

Patil, however, maintained that the committee could seek the help of the lawyer as special public prosecutor after the  framing of charges.

The court pacified Lalit by saying that there was no prayer in the petition in this regard. The court asked Patil and Lalit to prepare a chart showing the charges proposed in the impeachment motion and actually framed by the committee and posted the matter to Tuesday for hearing.

On April 29, the court had stayed the proceedings of the committee headed by Supreme Court judge Justice Aftab Alam and comprising Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J S Kehar and Rao probing corruption as well as misbehaviour charges against the Dinakaran.

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