Justice P.D. Dinakaran vs. Hon’ble Judges Inquiry Committee (Supreme Court)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: July 6, 2011 (Date of publication)

Click here to download the judgement (dinakaran_enquiry_bias.pdf)

Q of “bias” in judicial function must be seen from “reasonable man’s” perspective

A Committee was constituted u/s 3(2) of the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968 on 15.1.2010 to enquire into allegations that Chief Justice P. D. Dinakaran had misused his position as a Judge and as Chief Justice of the High Court for material gains. After some delay caused by reconstitution of the Committee, a notice dated 16.3.2011 was sent to Justice Dinakaran asking him to appear on 9.4.2011 to answer the charges. In reply, Justice Dinakaran submitted a representation dated 8.4.2011 with the prayer that the order constituting the Inquiry Committee be rescinded and notice issued by the Committee may be annulled on the ground that one of the members of the Committee (Mr. P.P Rao) had, by actively participating in a seminar organized by the Bar Association “already declared me guilty of certain charges” and “opposed my elevation to Apex Court tooth and nail” and that it would be a “travesty of justice” if Mr. P. P. Rao was permitted to be on the Committee. The Committee rejected the objections on the basis that it was “completely misconceived” and with “oblique motive” “to somehow scuttle the enquiry by causing delay in the Committee’s proceedings”. Aggrieved, Justice Dinakaran filed a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court. HELD dismissing the Petition:

(i) The rule against bias or interest is based on three maxims (i) No man shall be a judge in his own cause; (ii) Justice should not only be done, but manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done; and (iii) Judges, like Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion. The first requirement of natural justice is that the Judge should be impartial and neutral and must be free from bias. To decide whether there is “bias”, the “real likelihood test” has to be adopted. In each case, the Court has to consider whether a fair minded and informed person, having considered all the facts would reasonably apprehend that the Judge would not act impartially. To put it differently, the test would be whether a reasonably intelligent man fully apprised of all the facts would have a serious apprehension of bias. In deciding the question of bias one has to take into consideration human probabilities and ordinary course of human conduct;

(ii) On facts, the fact that Mr. P. P. Rao had participated in a seminar and demanded public inquiry into the charges levelled against Justice Dinakaran and drafted a resolution opposing elevation of Justice Dinakaran to the Supreme Court could give rise to reasonable apprehension in the mind of an intelligent person that Mr. P. P. Rao was likely to be biased. Accordingly, Justice Dinakaran’s apprehension of likelihood of bias against Mr. P. P. Rao is reasonable and not fanciful;

(iii) However, Justice Dinakaran was aware of Mr. P. P. Rao’s inclusion in the Committee in January, 2010. His “knowledgeful silence” and “belated plea” that by virtue of the active participation in the meeting held by the Bar Association, Mr. P. P. Rao will be deemed to be biased against him “militates against the bona fides of his objection” and does not merit acceptance. The objection is “a calculated move”. He is an “intelligent person” and “wants to adopt every possible tactic to delay the submission of report” by the Committee. No Court can render assistance in a petition filed with the sole object of delaying finalisation of the inquiry;

(iv) However, given the finding of bias, the Committee is requested to nominate another distinguished jurist in place of Mr. P. P. Rao. The reconstituted Committee shall be entitled to proceed on the charges already framed against Justice Dinakaran.

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One comment on “Justice P.D. Dinakaran vs. Hon’ble Judges Inquiry Committee (Supreme Court)
  1. MRkGANDHI says:

    Thanks to the judgment of the apex court and, I admit, I am of late fascinated by the fair, firm and equitable approach of the apex court. The apex court rightly held the matter and this message will go down the line of corrupt people that the apex court has no bias even to its Members of judiciary.

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