Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Thiruvallur collector's report on Justice P D Dinakaran

As is public knowledge Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran has been accused of various forms of corruption like encroaching on government lands, giving biased orders and other such charges. The actual complaints filed by Chennai based lawyers can be downloaded from here and here.

These complaints were filed when when Dinakaran's name came up on the list of judges who were to be elevated to the Supreme Court. After this complaint, the Supreme Court asked the Tamil Nadu government to verify the facts of the allegations of encroachment. The Tamil Nadu government in turn asked the Thiruvallur district collector, to verify the facts, since the alleged encroachments had taken place in that district. The collector submitted a report which confirmed the allegations. But the fact that the allegations have been confirmed is only hearsay and unofficial. There have been numberous media reports saying that the allegations have been confirmed by the report.

The collector who submitted the report was Mr.V.Palanikumar, but on March 28th 2010 another officer Mr.T.P.Rajesh has been appointed as the collector of the district. Following the report, P.D.Dinakaran's name was taken out of the list of judges who were to be elevated to the Supreme Court. I had filed an RTI with the Thiruvallur Collectorate seeking a copy of the report filed by him with the Supreme Court. They replied that it was confidential and hence cannot be given out. A first appeal too elicited the same reply. Hence I filed a second appeal with the State Information Commission.

This was heard on 13th April 2010. The Information Commissioner was Mr.T.R.Ramasamy). In my RTI application I had written that the Supreme Court had asked the TN Govt to look into the allegations which in turn asked the Thiruvallur to do it. Instead of focusing on the exemptions under 8(1)(h) and 8(1)(c) he started nitpicking saying that the Supreme Court had not asked the Government but instead asked the collector directly. I dont know how true this is, since I had based my RTI on the newsitem in the Hindu But irrespective of which is right, it was such a useless point to pick on. The disclosure of the report is the only thing of consequence.

But I told him that I will get him a copy of the newsitem (the above given link). Eventually he said that the report will come under section 8(1)(c), breach of privilege. To which I replied saying that he just cant cite "8(1)(c)" and that he must establish what privilege of parliament is breached. To which he replied "Is that the only argument you offer??" I said yes. While I was leaving he also showed me a newsitem,, wherein the PIO of the Supreme Court refused to give information regarding consultations done before suggesting Dinakaran's name. He wanted to use the 8(1)(b) clause wherein it says that Information barred by the Courts cannot be disclosed. To this I replied that the information refused in the newsitem he cited is COMPLETELY different from what I had asked, but that didnt seem to cut any ice with him. Moreover PIO refusing some information does not amount to the information being "barred by the courts", though I didnt mention it there.

Eventually he reserved the case and said that the judgment will come. I was 99.99% sure that he will not order for disclosure. But then I received an order from the SIC stating that since the PIO did not have enough information on hand, the hearing has been adjourned to 2nd June 2010. And for this hearing, the district collector was asked to appear in person. So yesterday, I was back at the Commission armed with a lot of arguments based on high court judgments, CIC orders news reports etc. But, to my complete disappointment, the collector did not turn up. His two officers told the commissioner that the collector could not come because of work related to the World Tamil Conference that will be held in June in Coimbatore. So the hearing is adjourned again, but the date is not known yet. Let us see what happens.

All related files can be downloaded from here.

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