Rajeev Dhavan against doubting Dinakaran panel

In this Mail Today piece, Rajeev Dhavan tries to answer all the apprehensions expressed by the CJAR in its letter to the Rajya Sabha Chairperson, Hamid Ansari. Reports suggest that Ansari has rejected the CJAR’s plea.

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  • I agree with Dhavan as far as P P Rao being part of the probe panel is concerned. There is no problem is Rao is part of it.

    But Justice Sirpurkar should recuse. He has been deliberately chosen by the CJI to be a part of the panel since CJI wants to save Dinakaran. There is a good case against Sirpurkar being a part of it.

    Battle for judicial accountability is far from won. We have to be careful at every step as the powers that be will try to scuttle accountability at every step.

  • The fact remains that P.P. Rao has himself admitted that Justice Dinakaran had contacted him and he gave him a particular piece of advice, formal or informal, whatever. It is immaterial whether he was a formal client of P.P. Rao and/or whether he paid him any professional fee.

    Likewise, the fact remains that Justice Sirpurkar has served as a Judge in Madras High Court and has (apparently) participated as a Judge in Division Benches with Justice Dinakaran. So, the question of proximity will always be there.

    In view of these facts, Rajiv Dhvan’s defence of P.P. Rao and Justice Sirpurkar being members of the Committee looking into allegations against Justice Dinakaran, is ill-conceived. Justice should not only be done, it must also be seen to be done. Is it that there is no other constitutional expert or jurist available in India other than P.P. Rao? Is it that there is no other Judge in Supreme Court other than Justice Sirpurkar? Was it not possible to appoint some other suitable persons as members of the said Committee in place of P.P. Rao and Justice Sirpurkar? Rajiv Dhavan’s argument that what happens if the enquiry is against a Supreme Court Judge as in that case every other Judge of the Supreme Court would (perhaps) have shared a Bench with the delinquent Judge, is not relevant here in the present case since Justice Dinakaran is not a Supreme Court Judge; therefore, one has to examine that issue when such a situation arises in future (though I wish no such situation arises even in future) and one hopes that law would be amended appropriately to rectify the defects. One has to make the best possible choice in the given circumstances. And, in this case, nobody can dispute that there were better choices available for being appointed as members of the said committee who would not have had such doubts being raised in their cases. So, the doubt will always remain in the minds of some people despite the fact that P.P. Rao and Justice Sirpurkar may be persons with highest intellectual integrity and I have every reason to believe that. But, why give a chance to think that “justice is not seen to be done”?

  • The dominant view of people who question the appointment of PP Rao and Justice Sirpurkar is that Dinakaran is guilty as hell and anyone doubting that or even who holds a slightly doubtful opinion should not sit on the Bench.

    I am afraid that is not justice seeming to be done.

    Serious allegations have been made, it is true, but we cannot have a Tribunal that has already made up its mind on the basis of media coverage.

    J Dinakaran would have interacted with any number of lawyers and judges during the last two months and we can't weed everyone out simply because he may have asked them their opinion.