In his first detailed remarks on the controversy surrounding Karnataka High Court Chief Justice PD Dinakaran’s proposed promotion to the Supreme Court, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said the final decision would factor in all aspects.
He, however, disapproved the public spectacle of protests by eminent jurists who, he felt, could have been more discreet.
“Mudslinging has reflected badly on judiciary’s image. If there was something against a judge, it should have been directly brought to the notice of the Chief Justice of India and the government,” Moily told HT. “Such a public controversy was avoidable since the issue involves appointment of judges to the country’s top court.”
Moily refrained from speculating whether the committee of top judges (collegium) led by CJI KG Balakrishnan was contemplating any review of its original recommendation for promotion of five judges including Justice Dinakaran.
“We have received the five names they recommended. The collegium knows its job. The procedure we follow has enough checks and balances,” Moily said. He nevertheless hinted there was no word from the CJI on reconsidering any name on the list.
According to a source privy to procedures for judges’ appointment, the CJI’s silence means the process moves unhindered unless,of course, the prime minister returns the file for reconsideration. Justice Dinakaran is believed to have submitted records of his property and judgements he delivered as a judge of the Madras High Court and Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court. “The collegium has all records to make discreet inquiries if it deems fit,” said a senior official.
There were no complaints against Justice Dinakaran from any quarter concerning his work in the Madras and Karnataka High Courts. He got in the eye of a storm after being recommended for promotion to the Supreme Court.
Petitions alleging graft charges against him first emanated from bar associations in Chennai followed by lawyers bodies in Karnataka and Delhi.
Eminent jurists, led by Fali S Nariman and Ram Jethmalani, had on September 8, written to the CJI and the PM objecting to the recommendation to promote Justice Dinakaran. They had levelled serious allegations of corruption against him.
The collegium had first recommended the names of five high court chief justices on August 27. Following strong opposition to Dinakaran’s name, the collegium met again on September 18.