The first line that catches your attention once you log on to the Supreme Court of India website reads, “Yato dharmastato jayah” which means where there is righteousness, there is victory!
What happens of the righteousness when Justice Dinakaran, the current Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court enters in to judiciary?
Let’s face it.
1. Justice Dinakaran acquired approximately 500 acres of land in the various villages of Vellore and Tiruvallur District and hometown Arakkonam after he became a judge in the Madras High Court. All of this beyond the ceiling limit under the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms. He also acquired at least two plots in Chennai during the same period. The value of all of these properties is said to be in hundreds of crores. To read full details about his wealth click here.
2. Noted Jurist and former law minister , “He (Dinakaran) even quashed the IT department’s reopening of assessment of an assessee, (where the amount of tax and penalties involved were around 50 Crores) at the very first hearing, by falsely recording a concession of the Standing Counsel of the IT Department. The IT department in their appeal against Justice Dinakaran’s order stated that the Standing Counsel had denied making any such consession and eventually the Division bench reversed Justice Dinakaran’s order.”
3. Dinakaran is also guilty of delivering judgments in a dishonest manner in a number of cases benefiting various parties up to the tune of crores of rupees. Many of these cases involve mining leases against several influential persons in Karnataka.
Despite all these charges in the air, Justice Dinakaran was recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court in August, 2009 by a collegium of judges headed by the then Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan. Balakrishnan was himself later accused of favouring members of his family in amassing huge amount of wealth while he was the CJI. Balakrishnan went to the extent of nearly defending Dinakaran during his tenure as the CJI.
The government returned the recommendation in December, 2009 after several top jurists’ objection followed by a public outcry. A motion seeking his removal on charges of corruption and abuse of judicial office was admitted in the Rajya Sabha in December 2009. In March 2010 the Supreme Court Collegium asked Justice Dinakaran to proceed on leave, but he didn’t. The Collegium then recommended his transfer to the Sikkim High Court where Sikkim Bar Association boycotted his oath ceremony.
Recently, the committee appointed by Vice-President Hamid Ansari framed 16 charges against Justice Dinakaran which include the charges of corruption and land-grabbing. The committee headed by Supreme Court Justice Aftab Alam also comprises Karnataka High Court Justice KS Khehar and jurist PP Roy. It was constituted on January 15, 2009 after the Rajya Sabha admitted a motion for Dinkaran’s removal on December 17, 2009. The committee will send its report to the Rajya Sabha chairman and Vice-President.
The committee issued a chargesheet against Justice Dinakaran on March 16, 2011 seeking his response by April 9, 2011 after which the hearing in the matter had to start. Dinakaran requested the proceedings to be deferred.
Finally, the panel rejected Dinakaran’s plea to defer proceedings and has asked him to respond to the sixteen charges framed against him by April 20.
Is this the solution for judicial accountability?
Even if the charges are concluded to be true by the committee, it will require a lot of political will to actually impeach Justice Dinakaran. The motion has to be adopted by both the Houses of Parliament in the same session, failing which, it will fall, opined constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap talking to a newspaper.
The noted jurist expressed dissatisfaction with the present procedure for removal of judges as not a single judge has been successfully removed till now. He said, “Earlier, if a judge was found to be dishonest, he was singled out. Now, if a judge is honest then he is singled out”. He said that there has to be a foolproof system like setting up a National Judicial Commission or Judicial ombudsman like in Scandinavia countries to take up such matters.
Dinakaran is one issue that hit the national headlines. But corruption in judiciary is more entrenched today than ever before to say that after Dinakarn is impeached we can rest in peace.
Dinakaran is set to retire in May 2012. Unfortunately, now even if he is impeached, will it be the victory of righteousness? Do we need an Anna Hazare to take every issue to streets? And if we start doing so, what will happen of democracy and the rule of law?
It’s time to put a fool proof system to tackle corrupt judges and repose common man’s faith in the judiciary.
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