oppn parties Judge Recusal is a Sensitive Issue

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  • Vodafone CEO seeks government relief, saying India operations on the verge of collapse
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  • Vishwa Hindu Parishad not to publicly 'celebrate' Babri Masjid demolition day this year, all events will be closed door
  • JNU students march against the steep hike in fees, keep HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal stuck at the venue of the convocation
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  • Car sales show a minuscule uptrend after declining continuously for 11 months
  • Industrial output contracts by 4.3% in September, the worst decline in 8 years
  • Centre defends abrogation of Article 370 in the Supreme Court, says the power under it was used by the President six times previously
  • Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar admitted to hospital with lung infection, put on ventilator
  • Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant quits as Union Minister
  • National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met the leaders of both Hindus and Muslims in Delhi on Sunday to ensure peace and harmony is maintained after the Ayodhya verdict
Supreme Court dismisses plea for review in Rafale case, says no need for roving inquiry, maintains clean chit to government
oppn parties
Judge Recusal is a Sensitive Issue

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
A judge who sits in judgment over a case is expected to be fair and impartial. There are many reasons that can be assumed to affect a judge’s attitude. The main among them are:

1. The judge has, through words spoken or actions, displayed bias against either the litigants or the lawyers in the case.
2. The judge has personal knowledge about the facts of the case.
3. The judge or his family is related to either the litigants or the lawyers.
4. The judge or his family has pecuniary interest in the subject matter of the case.

There is no law in India to guide judge recusal. Taking advantage of this, lawyers have now made it a trend to ask judges to recuse themselves from cases. A few days ago, a Supreme Court bench of a bench of Justice J S Khehar, CJI and Justice N V Ramanna recently commented that if this continues, the court will be left with no other alternative but to lay down a law for recusals. The bench was hearing a PIL filed by Lt. Col. (Retd.) Anil Kabotra which sought the court to direct the Ministry of Law and Justice to take immediate steps to fill up existing vacancies in the judiciary as well to carry out reforms and expansion as per the 245th report of the Law Commission. During the course of the hearing, advocate Mathew J Nedumpara, who was not appearing in the case, intervened and sought the recusal of the CJI from the matter.

The bench was livid, first for the fact that the advocate intervened without permission, and then because he was making an unfair demand. Justice Khehar said “we will like to hear you and decide the matter. We are here for years and you tell us to recuse.” The bench further said that “you people just come here and say things that this judge should recuse or that judge should recuse himself. We would like to lay down the law on the issue of recusal of judges.”

Even if the Supreme Court lays down a law, there is no guarantee that the issue will die down. For, if judges of Supreme Court are to decide on their own recusal, it will lead to a conflict of interest situation. It is a guiding principle of law that no one can be a judge in his own case. A law for recusal exists in the US, but still problems arise. Hence, there needs to be a lot thinking to be done before a law can be made on the subject, either through judicial initiative or by legislative intervention.