Facing day-to-day proceedings on examining the 16 charges of corruption and misconduct slapped on him in the impeachment process, Sikkim high court Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran on Friday got two weeks’ stay on the probe by a three-member judicial committee from the Supreme Court after he sought removal of one of the members, P.P. Rao, accusing him of “bias”.
A bench of Justices H.S. Bedi and C.K. Prasad passed the stay order “reluctantly” after Justice Dinakaran’s counsel Amarendra Sharan said since the inquiry committee, headed by Justice Aftab Alam of the top court, was having the proceedings on day-to-day basis, the whole purpose of his filing a petition would be defeated if the stay was not granted.
Initially the bench while admitting Justice Dinakaran’s petition, told Mr Sharan that it was only issuing notices to the respondents; Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari, the judicial probe panel through the Registrar of the Upper House Secretariat and Mr Rao without staying the inquiry proceedings.
However, when Mr Sharan alleged that the panel apart from having day-to-day hearing had expanded the charges beyond the list referred by the Rajya Sabha chairman, the top court agreed to stay the proceedings only for limited period of two weeks, enabling the three respondents to submit their affidavits by then.
As the bench asked why the issue of “bias” against Mr Rao, a very senior advocate of the Supreme Court, being raised at this stage, Mr Sharan said “even an apprehension of bias is a valid ground for removal under the principle of natural justice”.
“Rao had campaigned and complained against the petitioner (Justice Dinakaran) before the constitutional authorities and opposed his elevation to the Supreme Court,” the petition said, adding, “Incidentally the allegations made by Rao forms part of the charges framed against the petitioner. It is settled law that no complainant or prosecutor can be a judge of his own cause.”
Besides, Justice Dinakaran narrated in details the proceedings followed between April 20 and April 25 by the panel, which has besides Justice Alam and Rao, Karnataka high court Chief Justice K.S. Khehar as the third member. Asian Age