Dinakaran's case may go to larger Supreme Court bench

Justice Dinakaran has asked whether the JIC could look into charges that did not come within the ambit of his official duties.

The petitioner is facing charges of corruption, land grabbing, possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income and misconduct.

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice C.K. Prasad gave the indication during arguments by senior counsel Basava Prabhu Patil, appearing for Justice Dinakaran.

He said that the JIC had not only modified the charges against  Justice Dinakaran contained in the notice of motion for his impeachment by 75 Rajya Sabha members but had relied upon the material that appeared to have been given to it by a third person.
Patil told the apex court that this third person appeared to be the one on whose information the Rajya Sabha members moved the complaint and the motion for impeachment.

The court queried whether the JIC could take on record and rely on additional material provided by MPs who signed the complaint that was referred to it by the Rajya Sabha chairman.

Patil told the court that the JIC could not take into consideration material which was not a part of the complaint referred to it for probe.

The JIC is headed by apex court's Justice Aftab Alam. Others on the three-member probe panel are Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and senior counsel P.P. Rao.
The probe panel was set up by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari Dec 15, 2009, after 75 members of parliament's upper house moved a notice seeking impeachment and removal of Chief Justice Dinakaran.

Referring to Article 121 of the constitution, the court noted that the constitution  provided that parliament could discuss the "conduct of the judge in discharge of his duties" only after a motion addressed to the president seeking the removal of a judge  under scanner had been moved.

Asking U.U. Lalit, senior counsel appearing for the JIC, to address this dimension of the case in his arguments Friday, the court said: "He (judge) has an identity beyond his position as a judge. He is a citizen also and has consequent rights." 

The court noted that one of the charges against Chief Justice Dinakaran was that "purely in discharge of his (judicial) duties he benefited X,Y and Z (all his family members)".
At this Lalit said that in Chief Justice Dinakaran’s case there were charges which concerned his misconduct in the discharge of duties.

While telling the court that there was “absolutely” no need for referring the matter to a larger bench, senior counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that the charges of disproportionate assets case against Chief Justice Dinakaran were a mixture of discharge of official duties and its misuse. Bhushan appeared for the Forum for Judicial Accountability.

The court earlier talked about the “new trend” of trial by media wherein the accused stood condemned even before the judicial verdict or opinion was given. The court said that the projection of some judges by media was very bad.

The person (Chief Justice Dinakaran) against whom the complaint is made stands condemned because of parallel trial by media.

The court said the JIC may or may not uphold the charges. Parliament may or may not impeach him, but the person under scanner stands condemned as happened in the case of a judge (Justice V. Ramaswami who was the first Supreme Court judge against whom impeachment proceedings were initiated in the 1990s).

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