The Centre today told Supreme Court that the Rajya Sabha-appointed panel can carry out further probe and frame definite charges against Sikkim Chief Justice P D Dinakaran who is facing allegations of corrupt practices and misconduct.
Brushing aside protests from Justice Dinkaran's counsel that the Union Government should not show any interest in the proceedings, Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra said the panel is empowered to go beyond the original charges against the judge.
Quoting section 3 of the Judges Inquiry Act, Malhotra told a bench of justices G S Singhvi and C K Prasad, "The information at the time of the notice of motion may be vague.
It is a serious matter and you are going into the conduct of the judge. Definite charges can be framed only after collection of further materials and verifying evidence."
Former Additional Solicitor General Amarender Sharan on behalf of Justice Dinkaran objected to the Centre's intervention on the ground that it "should not have any interest" in the issue.
However, the bench told the counsel that Malhotra was assisting the court hence the objection could not be sustained.
The ASG told the bench that collection of evidence was part of investigation and once definite charges are framed the judge can approach the committee to clarify his position.
"The collection of materials is to determine whether the charges are factually correct or incorrect,"
Earlier, senior counsel U U Lalit appearing for the panel, alleged that Justice Dinakaran had purchased over 248 acres of land in Kaveripalyem in Kanchipuram district where there is no scope for agricultural or groundnut production.
Yet, he said, Justice Dinakaran had claimed a monthly income of Rs three lakh from the lands by way of income from groundnut and agricultural production in support of the undisclosed bank balance of Rs 1.48 crore.
"He was masquerading agricultural income as a source though there was no scope for production of groundnut or agricultural products," Lalit said.
Lalit said the committee could not get sufficient material to substantiate the allegation that the judge had spent several crores of rupees for an extravagant display of his daughter's marriage.
"This is the area where there is some refinement from the committee which had dropped the charges," the counsel said.
Lalit said the committee had collected material in support of the charge that Justice Dinakaran had undervalued his property and had purchased the same through black money.
Justice Dinkaran had moved the Supreme Court on two grounds contending that the panel had exceeded its jurisdiction by framing 14 charges on the basis of fresh complaints whereas, there were only 12 charges at the time when the motion was introduced in Parliament.
He has also sought recusal of senior advocate P P Rao from the panel on the ground that the latter was biased against him as he was part of a delegation which met the then Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan to oppose his elevation.
It was argued that the committee should restrict itself to the original 12 charges instead of inviting further complaints from various persons, which was not permissible under the law, the counsel argued.
The apex court had on April 29 stayed the probe by the Rajya Sabha-appointed panel after Dinakaran expressed apprehension of a biased inquiry by it in view of Rao's presence in the panel and the committee had exceeded its jurisdiction.
Further Probe Against Dinakaran Justified: Centre to SC
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