oppn parties Judge Recusal is a Sensitive Issue

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  • Supreme Court asks journalists to be responsible and publish only the official version of news after it was brought to its notice that migrant exodus started after the 'fake' news that the lockdown will be extended to three months
  • Small saving rates slashed by the government by 140 basis points
  • The Centre says that the exodus of the migrants was stopped to save villages and prevent community transmission
  • The Centre says March 31 will remain the closing date for FY 2019-2020 and no change will be made for Covid-19 disruption
  • Tablighi Jamaat fiasco puts several states on high alert, attendees and their contacts being traced
  • Stock markets recover on the last day of the financial year, but the sentiment remains weak
  • The government says Covid-19 is still in local transmission stage in India
  • Government scotches rumours of extending the lockdown beyond April14. Says no such plan
  • Centre asks states to give shelter and food to migrant workers to stop them from taking to the streets
  • RBI cuts repo rate by 75 bps, the steepest in 10 years
  • Centre writes to states regarding laxity in monitoring people who had arrived from abroad between January and March
  • Kerala reports a spurt in new cases
  • With 124 fresh cases on Friday, the number of reported cases in India stand at 854
  • Five of a family, including a 9-month-old-baby test positive for Covid-19 in Nadia district in West Bengal on Friday
  • The Pakistani army is reportedly forcibly moving all Covid-19 patients to PoK and Gilgit
Total count crosses 1600 in India with 52 deaths and 146 recoveries on Tuesday, spurt in cases in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu
oppn parties
Judge Recusal is a Sensitive Issue

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2017-02-03 11:59:05

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.