Top jurists, including two former Supreme Court judges, on Thursday demanded scrapping of the three-member panel formed by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari to probe the corruption allegations against Karnataka High Court chief justice P.D. Dinakaran.
“Two members of the panel, Justice V.S. Sirpurkar of the Supreme Court and senior advocate P.P. Rao, knew Justice Dinakaran quite well and may not be fit to judge his conduct,” they said in a note to Ansari.
In separate applications to Ansari, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform (CJAR), and Chennai-based Forum for Judicial Accountability (FJA) demanded that the probe panel be reconstituted.
“We don’t doubt the integrity or impartiality of either Justice Sirpurkar or Shri Rao, but their past association with Justice Dinakaran, and prejudgment of this matter place them in a position where justice will not be done,” stated the CJAR.
It has sent the application on behalf of former SC judges, V.R. Krishna Iyer and P.B Sawant, and 30 other eminent citizens.
“We learn that Justice Sirpurkar told several responsible lawyers that he knows Justice Dinakaran well, who is independently wealthy and an honourable man,” said the application signed by senior SC lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
In a separate petition to Ansari, 10 Madras High Court lawyers said Sirpurkar was a colleague of Dinakaran between 1997 and 2003. “They functioned together on division benches, shared administrative work and interacted with each other at social and official functions. Of all the Supreme Court judges, Justice Sirpurkar would have the most association with him,” said the petition.
Sirpurkar was not available for his comments. Officials at his residence said they would inform the “hon’ble lordship”.
The two organisations also drew Ansari’s attention to the “legal advice” tendered by Rao to Dinakaran in December. “The fact is known in legal circles and Mr Rao has not denied the meeting.”
Rao confirmed to HT on Monday he had met Dinakaran. “It was a courtesy call. I had suggested to him to seek a probe under the Commission of Inquiry Act to clear his name,” Rao had said.
Ansari had formed the probe panel on January 8, after 75 opposition MPs had moved an impeachment motion against Dinakaran last month.