The case against Justice P.D. Dinakaran, the chief justice of the Karnataka high court, is the first in the history of post-independent India to be played out almost entirely in the age of 24×7 media.
While there have been dozens of judges with a question mark against them and while only two of them have had the infamy of having the impeachment process initiated against them (Justice V. Ramaswami and Justice Soumitra Sen), Justice Dinakaran has exclusively had his dirty linen washed in public.
Yet, slimy politicians will be slimy politicians, just as perhaps sleazy judges will be sleazy judges.
While 76 members of the Rajya Sabha have signed the 55-page impeachment petition, which the vice-president Hamid Ansari has admitted, the issue has quickly attained a pro-Dalit, anti-Dalit tone, just as it had when the issue first broke. Some Congress Dalit MPs have criticised the impeachment move, saying Justice Dinakaran was being hounded because he was a Dalit. And then that sturdy pillar of rectitude, Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mayawati, has lent her weight to the issue.
In some ways, the current situation is no different from 1990, when Justice Ramaswami’s impeachment was seen as a plot against a south Indian. The Congress eventually abstained from the voting, rendering the impeachment void. However, the key difference in Justice Dinakaran’s case is the media play it has got. While the Congress is making the right noises today, there is no guarantee it will stick with this course.
Questions: Will Justice P.D. Dinakaran be eventually impeached? Or will the Dalit card help him out? Will the impeachment process drag on by which time he will retire “honourably”?
Full coverage: The strange case of Justice P.D. Dinakaran