Audi alteram partem? Hear the other side out?

Since the row over his elevation to the Supreme Court began, Justice P.D. Dinakaran of the Karnataka high court has maintained a studied, even strategic, silence.

While lawyers have shot off repeated memoranda, the media has feasted on his alleged excesses, parliamentarians have begun his impeachment process, and his brother-judges have shot off pointed barbs, we have heard nothing from the chief justice of the Karnataka HC.

On the face of it, this “dignified response” may reveal the helplessness high judicial functionaries face when they are exposed to relentless media and public scrutiny. OTOH, if Justice Dinakaran could opt for a super-soft interview with Dhanya Rajendran of Times Now to “clear the air”, surely it wouldn’t have been beyond him to launch a media blitzkrieg?

Vinay Sitapati in The Indian Express:

Audi Alteram Partem,” goes the foremost rule of natural justice. Hear the other side out. Have we heard out Justice Paul Daniel Dinakaran?

“This is not to defend the Karnataka HC chief justice, to decry the mobilisation against him, nor to oppose his impeachment. It is to ask a question of procedure. For here’s what we know about Justice Dinakaran: (1) A district collector’s official report has found against him, (2) the law ministry has opposed his elevation, (3) 75 Rajya Sabha members have signed onto his impeachment notice, (4) the Supreme Court collegium has decided to keep his elevation “in abeyance”.

“In short, we know that a full four separate institutions have already judged him in some way. Yet, where is the space for the judge to defend himself, to present his own counter-arguments? The humblest of petitioners to appear before Justice Dinakaran probably enjoyed more legal due process. Is this fair entry to (or exit from) the world’s most powerful court?”

Read the full article: Hear him out

Full coverage: The strange case of Justice P.D. Dinakaran

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The strange case of Justice Dinakaran (continued)