SC seeks house panels stand on allegations of exceeding brief

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought the response of a Rajya Sabha-appointed panel on allegations by Sikkim High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran that it has exceeded its jurisdiction in probing charges of judicial misconduct and corruption against him.

A vacation bench of justices G S Singhvi and C K Prasad sought the three-member committee`s response while issuing notice to it on Dinakaran`s allegations that the panel has expanded the ambit of the probe beyond what was initially adopted by the Rajya Sabha motion.

The bench decided to take up for further hearing in the case on Wednesday.

Earlier, senior counsel and former Additional Solicitor General Amrendra Saran, appearing for Dinakaran, sought senior advocate P P Rao withdrawal from the Rajya Sabha panel on the ground that he was biased against the beleaguered judge.

Saran read out in the court the purported reply of Rao admitting that he was part of the resolution passed in November 2009 under the aegis of the Bar Association of India wherein the then Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan was asked not to elevate Dinakaran, 61, in view of the charges.

He also said Rao was part of the delegation which subsequently met the Chief Justice and made a representation opposing Dinakaran`s elevation.

The apex court had on April 29 stayed the probe by the panel after Dinakaran had expressed apprehension of a biased inquiry by it in view of Rao being on the panel.

It had asked the committee headed by Justice Aftab Alam of the Supreme Court to respond to Dinakaran`s plea that Rao should quit the panel.

Besides Justice Alam and Rao, the third member of the committee is Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J S Khehar.

Justice Dinakaran, in his petition, has said, "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 seen to be done."

The judge has contended that the Upper House panel`s decision rejecting his plea for Rao`s withdrawal was in violation of the principles of natural justice.

"The impugned order passed by the Judges` Inquiry Committee allowing a biased member to continue to serve as a member of the committee is hit by the principles of natural justice and, hence, violative of Article 14 of the Constitution," he has said.