Chennai lawyers divided over charges against Karnataka CJ

Caste bias seen as Dinakaran is from the SC community


The issue came to the limelight after a Chennai-based lawyers’ body sent a letter to the chief justice of India pointing out that the judge has amassed “huge assets.”  
The forum said Justice Dinakaran acquired “hundreds of acres of land” adjacent to his  native Arakkonam, above the limits set by the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act.

Some lawyers refused to comment on the issue as the matter was now under the scanner of the apex court.

The charges “seem silly,” said a senior advocate of the  Madras High Court, requesting anonymity.

“The forum which has made the charges is not a formal association, but an informal group of lawyers who selectively target judges on the eve of their elevation to a higher court, more so because he (Justice Dinakaran) happens to belong to the Scheduled Caste community.

“In this case, the allegation does not seem to be fair as the vast stretch of land reportedly  acquired by the judge is dry land,” the advocate said. That he owned large chunks of land in his village was known even before Justice Dinakaran was elevated to the Karnataka High Court, another lawyer said.

S Doraiswamy, a senior lawyer, said the land  under question was acquired “even before he (Justice Dinakaran) became a judge of the Madras High Court.”

Land ceiling limits varied from district to district and on the type of land one possessed,  Doraiswamy said.

The upper  limit of 15 standard hectares prescribed under the TN Land Ceiling Law applied only to “wet lands” and that too in the Cauvery delta district of Thanjavur, Doraisamy said.

On the contrary, in the drought-prone Dharmapuri district of North-West Tamil Nadu, even 75 hecatares of dry land would not attract the provisions of the Land Ceiling legislation, he said.

Asked why this issue was being raised now, Duraisamy said this could be part of a “slur campaign” to scuttle the chances of a South Indian from Tamil Nadu becoming a Supreme Court judge.

“There is nothing to suspect his integrity as a judge,” Doraiswamy added.

Justice Dinakaran, who enrolled as an advocate in the Madras High Court in August 1976, was later appointed Additional Central Government Standing counsel in 1992 and made a permanent judge of the Madras High Court in December 1996. He became Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court in August 2008.

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