The government on Thursday hinted that Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran had no option but to proceed on leave, as advised by the panel of seniormost judges in the country — the Supreme Court collegium.
“Nobody is above law, not even Justice Dinakaran,” said Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, in response to the query that the controversial judge, facing impeachment proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, was yet to proceed on leave.
The Supreme Court collegium had on April 1 advised Justice Dinakaran to go on leave. It had recommended the name of Justice Madan B. Lokur of the Delhi High Court to take over as the acting chief justice of the Karntaka High Court.
There is no word yet from Justice Dinakaran, but sources close to him said the judge could not be sent on forced leave.
The government seem to disagree. “The hand of law is wide enough to catch anyone. I don’t think Justice Dinakaran is above the law or beyond the reach of law,” Moily said.
Law ministry officials said Justice Dinakaran was left with virtually no option than to proceed on leave. “The collegium has recommended it, a former chief justice of India has cited Article 223 to deal with the situation. So, where is the confusion?” the official remarked.
Justice Dinakaran has not been hearing cases since Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari admitted an impeachment motion moved against him by 75 Opposition MPs on December 17 last year.
The motion had sought his removal citing serious charges of corruption, land grabbing and abuse of position as a judge.
Justice Dinakaran has consistently denied the allegations.
In a further blow to Justice Dinakaran, the Karnataka High Court on March 27 quashed three administrative circulars issued by him. The development followed the Supreme Court collegium advising him to go on leave five days later.
It is learnt that a Karnataka High Court judge, Justice D.V. Shylendra Kumar, had written to the collegium, seeking its intervention on the state of affairs in the high court. He is understood to have also asked for the appointment of an acting chief justice.