CJ Dinakaran is finally out

Justice M B Lokur to be HC chief justice

CJ Dinakaran is finally out

Justice Lokur, whose official appointment order is expected any time now, may take over office in little over a week’s time. The collegium is headed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan.

 Justice Dinakaran, whose elevation to the apex court was halted as charges of alleged corruption and misuse of office dogged him, is facing impeachment proceedings in the Rajya Sabha where a motion was admitted a few months back.

The beleaguered Karnataka High Court chief justice has not been performing any judicial work since December last. Besides, his position was challenged by a brother judge, Justice D V Shylendra Kumar, who openly revolted against his continuing as the chief justice and had asked him to stop performing even administrative functions.

According to informed sources, the collegium took the decision to ask Justice Dinakaran to proceed on leave and appoint a new CJ in his place as it had received several representations pointing out that routine judicial work of the High Court had been badly hit.

Allegations listed in the impeachment motion against Justice Dinakaran included possessing wealth disproportionate to known sources of income, unlawfully securing five housing board plots in the name of his wife and two daughters, entering into ‘benami’ transactions, and acquiring and possessing agricultural holdings beyond the ceiling limit. Other allegations related to illegal encroachment on government and public property to deprive dalits and poor of their livelihood, violation of human rights of dalits and poor and destruction of evidence during official enquiry.

 The collegium has also recommended the name of the senior-most judge of the Jharkhand High Court M Y Eqbal as the new Chief Justice of the Madras High Court. He will succeed Justice H L Gokhale, who has been recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court.

‘Welcome step’

In Bangalore, the legal fraternity welcomed the SC collegium decision, describing it as a relief for the state’s judiciary. “It is a welcome step that the collegium should have taken long ago,” Karnataka State Bar Council (KSBC) former vice-chairman Muniappa said.
Welcoming the decision, former KSBC president Y R Sadashiva Reddy said the state judiciary had suffered badly during the tenure of Justice Dinakaran. “If it had taken the decision earlier, the image of the state judiciary would not have suffered,” Reddy said.

Allegations

Former advocate general and senior counsel B V Acharya who, along with several other senior advocates had refused to appear in Justice Dinakaran’s court because of the allegations, too appreciated the collegium’s decision.

The problem surrounding Justice Dinakaran started in August 2009 with the collegium recommending elevating Justice Dinakaran as Supreme Court judge. Citing the allegations against Justice Dinakaran by the Chennai-based Forum for Judicial Accountability, several senior Supreme Court advocates demanded in September 2009 that the recommendation be rescinded.

After the allegation were found to be true on the basis of the Tiruvallur district collector's two reports, the collegium dropped Justice Dinakaran's name for elevation. Thereafter, on a complaint from 76 Members of Parliament, Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari admitted a motion for impeachment.

But City advocates are confused over the appointment of Justice Lokur as they are wondering whether he has been appointed as Chief Justice or acting Chief Justice.
“We don’t know whether he has been appointed as acting Chief Justice or Chief Justice. We doubt whether one can be appointed as Chief Justice when someone in his place has been asked to proceed on leave. A judge cannot be appointed Chief Justice unless the former Chief Justice vacates his chair,” said Sadashiv Reddy.

Agreeing with Reddy, Acharya said: “If at all an appointment is made as acting Chief Justice, the person can perform all judicial and administrative functions, except recommending names of brother judges for elevation,” he said.

Taking a different position, senior counsel Udaya Holla said: “It is an appointment by the President of India. A Chief Justice can be appointed under such circumstances.”

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