Caste heat on Dinakaran
New Delhi, July 31: Former Chief Justice of India V.N. Khare has
described as "unfortunate" Justice Paul Daniel Dinakaran's attempt to
fall back on his Dalit status as a defence against the corruption
charges against him.
"There is no institutional bias (of that sort) in the judiciary,"
Khare said. "One or two individual judges may have their own
ideologies such as pro-capitalist, pro-socialist, pro-poor,
pro-tenant, etc., but on the whole there is no institutional bias," he
Eminent lawyers too ridiculed Dinakaran's attempt to wave the Dalit
card and claim that he was being targeted because of his caste.
Supreme Court lawyer Rajeev Dhavan summed up the entire controversy in
one word: "Ridiculous."
"It is unfortunate that the caste factor is being played in the
Dinakaran resignation. There are many distinguished judges, who have
been SCs and STs, but who have carried their professionalism with
distinction. This (raising the caste issue) discredits honest judges
and administrators…" he said.
Dinakaran, who was facing allegations of land-grab and corruption,
stepped down suddenly on Friday night as Sikkim High Court chief
justice, effectively stymieing the ongoing impeachment proceedings
His elevation to the Supreme Court had run into trouble when the
allegations surfaced. The CJI had transferred him to Sikkim pending an
impeachment inquiry against him.
Senior lawyer C.S. Vaidyanathan said caste, religion and region have
always held sway on judicial appointments, but denied that Dinakaran
was being targeted because he was a Dalit. "There has always been an
unofficial, unarticulated quota system in the Indian judiciary," he
In Andhra, a retired Reddy will always be replaced by another Reddy,
in Madras all caste lobbies enjoy a strong clout except the Brahmins,
Vaidyanathan said. "Caste lobbies exist in almost all high courts," he
But Dinakaran, who was in Madras High Court when Vaidyanathan was a
practising lawyer at the bar there, never had to face any problems
either at the bar or the bench because of his caste, Vaidyanathan
said. "In fact, being a Dalit helped him become a judge, given his
calibre and competence," Vaidyanathan said.
"He knew that the findings of the (inquiry) committee would go against
him, so he's taken the most convenient way out."
Vaidyanathan said the same allegations were levelled during his
elevation as chief justice of Karnataka High Court but were ignored.
"It came to light because of his proposed elevation to the Supreme
Dinakaran made several attempts to stall the impeachment proceedings,
raising issues of bias and procedural irregularities against the
three-member probe panel.
What possibly forced his hand was a verdict a fortnight ago in which
the Supreme Court, hearing one of his many petitions against the
panel, criticised him for delaying the proceedings.
Dhavan, however, hinted that Dinakaran may have quit to protect his
post-retirement benefits. "Impeachment may have had an impact on his
post-retiral benefits," he said.
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