Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari has reminded the panel probing allegations of corruption against the controversial Justice P.D. Dinakaran of its powers, HT has learnt.
Ansari is understood to have written to a three member panel headed by Supreme Court judge, Justice V.S. Sirpurkar that it has the powers of a civil court and it should do its work in accordance with law.
The chairman's response follows a letter by the probe panel last week, addressed to him, in which the panel wanted the MPs who had moved the impeachment (removal) motion against Justice Dinakaran, to provide evidence in support of their allegations.
Rajya Sabha chairman's letter is being seen as a message to the probe panel to conduct its investigations as provided for by the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968.
Section five of the Act defines the powers of the probe panel. "For the purpose of making any investigation under this Act the Committee shall have the powers of a civil court, while trying suit, under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908," states the section.
According to Rajya Sabha secretariat, section three of the Act gives powers to the panel to proceed in its investigation. "The Committee shall frame definite charges against the Judge on the basis of which the investigation is proposed to be held," the section states.
The probe panel, which also includes Karnataka high court chief justice J.S. Khehar and veteran lawyer, P.P. Rao, was set-up by Ansari in January this year, after he admitted a notice from 75 opposition MPs seeking the impeachment of Justice Dinakaran.
Allegations listed in the impeachment motion against Justice Dinakaran include possessing wealth disproportionate to known sources of income, unlawfully securing five housing board plots in the name of his wife and two daughters, illegal encroachment on government and public property to deprive Dalits and the poor of their livelihood.
Accusing the judge of abusing his judicial office, the motion alleged that Justice Dinakaran passed dishonest judicial orders in matters where he had personal and direct pecuniary interest.
Justice Dinakaran, who has recently been transferred to the Sikkim High Court from Karnataka, has consistently denied the charges.