In a setback to Sikkim High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran, the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to quash some of the charges framed against him by a Rajya Sabha-appointed panel looking into allegations of corrupt practices and misconduct against him.
A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi, however, allowed Dinakaran's plea seeking removal of senior advocate P P Rao from the inquiry panel.
The bench asked Rajya Sabha chairman and Vice President Hamid Ansari to reconstitute the panel by replacing Rao with another distinguished jurist.
The court, however, made it clear that Dinakaran will be facing the same charges which were framed by the three-member committee comprising Supreme Court judge Justice Aftab Alam, Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J S Khehar and senior advocate P P Rao.
Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari had in January 2010 constituted the three-member panel to examine the 12 charges framed in the notice of motion adopted by the House.
The apex court had on April 29 stayed the probe by the panel after Dinakaran expressed apprehension of a biased inquiry due to Rao's presence in the panel and that the committee had exceeded its jurisdiction.
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. He had also sought Roa's recusal.
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.
Justice Dinakaran had contended that the panel has expanded the ambit of the probe beyond what was initially adopted by the Rajya Sabha motion.
Dinakaran had also sought Rao's removal on the ground that he was biased against him.
Senior counsel and former Additional Solicitor General Amrendra Saran, appearing for Dinakaran, had pointed out that Rao was part of the resolution passed in November 2009 under the aegis of the Bar Association of India to ask erstwhile Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan against elevating Dinakaran, 61, to the apex court due to various charges of corruption and judicial misconduct against him.
Saran had also argued that Rao was part of the delegation which subsequently met the Chief Justice and made a representation opposing Dinakaran's elevation.
The apex court had also rejected Sharan's contention that the panel can neither conduct its own probe nor frame any additional charges as it is prohibited under Section 3 of the Judges Inquiry Act.
"How can you say that? Supposing someone fabricates documents and submits it to the Speaker or Chairman as the case may be. The members on the basis of the fabricated documents adopt the notice of motion. Should the committee not scrutinise the material?" the bench had asked.
"They are legally trained minds who can detect the fabricated material. In fact, it would offer protection to a judge also from baseless allegations," the bench had said.