Justice P D Dinakaran Resigns as Sikkim Chief Justice

New Delhi
Justice P D Dinakaran Resigns as Sikkim Chief Justice
Facing impeachment on charges of corruption and judicial misconduct, Sikkim High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran resigned today expressing "lack of faith and confidence" in the three-member inquiry Committee probing charges against him.

"Before demitting office, I must confess with a very heavy heart that in spite of my constitutional position, I have been denied fair opportunity to defend myself and my reputation by the Judges Inquiry Committee," he said in a two-page letter of resignation sent to President Pratibha Patil.

61-year-old Dinakaran, a Dalit, also said he had a "sneaking suspicion" that his "misfortune" was because of the circumstances of his birth in the socially oppressed and underprivileged section of the society.

Dinakaran, who would have demitted office next year on attaining the age of 62, also told PTI that he was a victim of media trial. "You (media) have killed me, my family and my reputation."

"You called me a land grabber. There were people with vested interests who said whatever they wanted. Media wrote without verifying. Now you have achieved what you wanted," a visibly agitated Dinakaran said.

Dinakaran is the third judge of the higher judiciary to face impeachment proceedings. The impeachment motion against Justice V Ramaswamy of the Supreme Court was defeated in the Lok Sabha in mid-nineties, while the inquiry report of three- member committee appointed by Rajya Sabha Chairman against Justice Soumitra Sen of Calcutta High Court is still pending.

Attributing his "misfortune" to his social background, Justice Dinakaran said,"I have a sneaking suspicion that my misfortune was because of my circumstances of my birth in the socially oppressed and underprivileged section of the society."

"Integrity of members of these communities who attain high office is always baselessly questioned through innuendo, sneering and spreading of false rumours while the privileged are treated by the vested interest as embodiment of all virtues."

The Chief Justice whose resignation comes a day ahead of the hearing of the three-member inquiry committee appointed by Rajya Sabha Chairman to probe into charges, said, "I have been very calculatively targeted at the instance of the vested interests."

The Chief Justice also made tirades against the Committee saying, "Orders were passed by the Judge's Inquiry Committee, consisting of this biased person behind my back on Sunday. The committee recorded the evidence behind my back."

"It appointed a lawyer to assist, but in fact to prosecute me on behalf of the committee. The said lawyer collected evidence for fourteen (14) months, compiled 6,300 pages of documents, but I was asked to give a reply within 15 days. It is difficult to comprehend as to how 6,300 pages could be read and answered within such a short period of time," he said.

He said under these circumstances he approached the Supreme Court which dismissed his "two hour arguments (on framing of charges) in two lines".

 Expressing lack of faith in the Committee, he said, "In above factual background I am unable to repose any faith and confidence in the committee and in their procedure being adopted by them. I am therefore, of the firm view that there would not be any gainful purpose in appearing before the committee in spite of my innocence."

He said, "It is also obvious that hearing before the committee is just an empty formality."

"In order to maintain the dignity of the office I am holding and to prove that I do not have any lust for the office, position and the power and to prove that I do not want to adopt any dilatory tactics, I am submitting my resignation and demitting my office," he said.

The apex court collegium had cleared his name for appointment as judge of the Supreme Court when Dinakaran was the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court.

Dinakaran's elevation was put on hold after some lawyers' groups brought the allegations of corruption and judicial misconduct against him.

Earlier, he was moved to the Karnataka High Court from the Madras High Court. As he faced allegations, which he had strongly denied, he was shifted to the Sikkim High Court.

The apex court on July 5 had rejected his plea to invalidate the enquiry by a Rajya Sabha-appointed panel into his alleged corrupt practices and misconduct and accused him of adopting delaying tactics.

The court had only accepted his plea to replace senior advocate P P Rao, one of the three members of the panel, whose unbiasedness was questioned by him.

However, the court had held that it was a "calculated" move on the part of Dinakaran to raise objection against Rao to delay the proceeding which is to be completed within three months.

The court had said reconstitution of the committee will not hamper the proceedings and it shall proceed on the charges already framed against the Judge.

The committee, appointed by the Rajya Sabha Chairman in January 2010, is headed by Supreme Court judge Justice Aftab Alam and includes Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J S Khehar, besides Rao.

The three-member panel was to examine the 12 charges framed in the notice of motion adopted by the House.

Dinakaran had challenged the proceedings on the ground that the panel had framed additional charges and was also independently conducting investigations and collecting material against him which, according to the judge, was not permissible under law.

The charges against the judge include land grabbing, accumulation of unaccounted assets, passing judicial order for extraneous considerations, following which his elevation to the Supreme Court was also stalled.
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