Govt backs committee against Dinakaran

Panel can frame charges after verifying materials

Govt backs  committee against Dinakaran

The government told the Supreme Court that the panel formed by Parliament can frame “definite” charges against the judge after verifying the materials before it.

“The Inquiry Committee formed under the Judges (Inquiry) Act can frame definite charges after verifying the materials. It is constituted for the purpose of investigation which includes collection of evidence,” Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra told a Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and C K Prasad.

Justice Dinakaran, former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court had challenged the Committee’s decision to frame 16 charges against him in contrast to the mandate of 12 charges given to it in the notice of impeachment motion.

Malhotra submitted that the high-powered committee headed by a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court would frame the charges after scrutinising the materials including some “vague” allegations by 50 from (Rajya Sabha) or 100 (from Lok Sabha) MPs.

The judge can approach the Committee after definite charges were framed against him, the ASG said.

During over three-hour-long hearing, senior advocate U U Lalit, appearing for the Inquiry Panel, submitted that it was within the rights of the Committee to frame the charges as per its wisdom after looking into materials and the evidence.

“If we say the MPs complete all works before the framing of charges by the Committee, then, we are exposing the judge for private investigation. It would be prejudicial to the interest of judiciary and lead to character assassination of the same. It can cause havoc,” he said.

Maintaining that the Committee had dropped two charges against Justice Dinakaran, Lalit also said the committee was essentially to unravel the truth.

“One can’t say any of the charges is beyond the notice of motion (impeachment). All of them are rooted in motion only. The committee is to collect materials and frame the charges while the Judge would get an opportunity to cross-examine the witness,” he contended.

The counsel also discussed different charges framed by the committee including acquisition of properties in the name of family members and benami transaction allegedly undertaken by Justice Dinakaran in 2003-04 to 2009-10.

In the petitions filed before the apex court, Justice Dinakaran had also challenged inclusion of senior advocate P P Rao as jurist in the Inquiry Committee headed by SC Judge Justice Aftab Alam and Karnataka High Court’s Chief Justice J S Kehar, alleging “apprehension of bias”, for he had drafted a resolution to stall his purported elevation to the Supreme Court.

The court has posted the matter for further hearing to Wednesday.

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