The Supreme Court Friday held that a committee set up under the Judges Inquiry Act can go beyond the charges contained in the notice of motion admitted in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha and forwarded to the committee in pursuance of an impeachment motion against a judge.
‘It will be naive to contend that the committee has no discretion in the matter of framing charges. Rather, the committee is duty bound to carefully scrutinise the material forming part of the notice of motion and then frame definite charges,’ said the bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad in their judgment.
Speaking for the bench, Justice Singhvi said: ‘We hold that the procedure adopted by the committee cannot be faulted on the ground that it made a preliminary inquiry before framing charges against the petitioner and relied upon the material received from various sources and recorded statement of some persons.’
The court said this while dismissing the petition by former chief justice of Sikkim High Court, P.D. Dinakaran (since resigned), challenging the judges inquiry committee headed by apex court judge Justice Aftab Alam holding preliminary inquiry and framing charges that were beyond those contained in the notice of motion.
Justice Dinakaran had also contested the committee’s action in seeking more information from the those who briefed the Rajya Sabha members before the motion of impeachment was initiated.
In the notice of motion sent to the Judgers Inquiry Committee, there were 12 charges which were increased to 14 by the probe committee headed by Justice Alam.
The committee, the judgment said, can also receive other material which may support or contradict the allegations enumerated in the notice of motion.
In an appropriate case, the committee can require any person including the one who may have supplied material to the members of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, as the case may be, to give clarification on any particular point or make available authentic copies of the documents, the judgment read.
The committee can also call upon such person to file affidavit or make a statement and summon him at the stage of investigation so that the judge may get an opportunity to cross-examine him, the judgment added.