SC bench recuses from hearing Dinakarans plea

New Delhi: A Supreme Court bench on Thursday recused itself from hearing Sikkim High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran`s plea seeking stay of pre-impeachment probe by a Rajya Sabha-appointed committee into allegations of misconduct and corruption against him.

A bench comprising justices D K Jain and H L Dattu did not give any reason for recusing itself from hearing the matter.

"It will go before another bench in the mentioning list for tomorrow," the bench said.

The bench was to hear the petition filed by Justice Dinakaran in which the beleaguered judge has challenged the proceedings before a three-member Rajya Sabha-appointed inquiry panel which has been hearing the charges of alleged land grabbing and possession of wealth disproportionate to known sources of his income.

He has sought quashing of the order of the panel which has refused his plea for the recusal of senior advocate P P Rao on the ground that he was biased against him.

The panel, headed by Justice Aftab Alam of the Supreme Court, also includes Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J S Khehar, besides Rao.

Justice Dinakaran, in his petition, has said there was likelihood of bias in the proceedings as Rao had earlier campaigned against him when his elevation to the Supreme Court was under consideration.

"If there is reasonable likelihood of bias, it is in accordance with natural justice and common sense that the judge likely to be so biased should be incapacitated from sitting. The basic principle underlying the rule is that justice must not only be done but must also appear to be done," the petition has submitted.

It has alleged Rao was part of a delegation of lawyers which had met the then Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan in 2009 to oppose his elevation to the Supreme Court.

The panel had on April 24 rejected Dinakaran`s plea against Rao saying the objection should have been raised at the start of the proceedings. Rao did not participate in the meeting when this application was discussed.

Charges against Justice Dinakaran, who is due to retire on May 9, 2012, were levelled when he was Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court. He was subsequently transferred to the Sikkim High Court.

The panel, appointed by Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari after the House initiated impeachment motion against him, had asked Dinakaran to respond to the 16 charges framed against him.