#RecusalWatch: Eight Supreme Court Judges recuse from twelve cases
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#RecusalWatch: Eight Supreme Court Judges recuse from twelve cases

Bar & Bench

Last week (April 10-13), Justices RK Agrawal and L Nageswara Rao of the Supreme Court of India recused from three cases each, while Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, Navin Sinha, Uday Umesh Lalit, SA Bobde, AK Sikri, and S Abdul Nazeer recused from one each.

Here are the details:

The first case, Kasturba Health Society v Union of India, was listed before Justices Agrawal and Abhay Manohar Sapre on April 10, when the former withdrew from hearing it. This civil SLP arose out of the Gujarat High Court judgment in the case of Kalyan Janta Sahakari Bank Ltd v State of Gujarat, delivered in January 2016.

In this case, the Gujarat High Court struck down the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. (Conferment of Power to Redeem Bonds) Act, 2008, on grounds of lack of legislative competence of the State Legislature. The Act conferred power on the company to redeem prematurely and in public interest, the Deep Discount Bonds issued by it.

The High Court in its judgment held the Act unconstitutional, but declined to grant consequential relief of paying the loss or damages as prayed for, because it would require leading of evidence and such prayer could not be granted in writ jurisdiction. It is possible that the appellant in the Supreme Court seeks consequential relief through the writ jurisdiction, as the remedy of civil suit is likely to be beset by delays and costs.

Why Justice Agrawal recused from this case is not clear. He had, along with Justice R Banumathi, heard the main SLP filed by SSNNL against the High Court’s judgment, on November 23, last year. This SLP, listed before the bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Nariman, on April 21, was dismissed, without stating any reasons.

The main SLP, SSNNL v Kalyan Janta Sahakari Bond Ltd., has now been converted as a Civil Appeal, and posted for regular hearing. The Supreme Court had stayed the High Court judgment in the case on March 11, last year. It has been pending for hearing since then.

Justice Agrawal’s recusal from the second case was on April 13, when he withdrew from hearing another civil SLP, G Chandramohan v Indian Oil Corporation and Ors, listed before himself and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre. The case arose out of a judgment and orders passed by the Madras High Court in October and December 2014.  Although Justice Agrawal was elevated from the Madras High Court to the Supreme Court in February 2014, it is possible that he might have heard it when he was acting Chief Justice of the High Court.

The third case Justice Agrawal recused from is Rupak Gupta v Birendra Kumar (Dead) Through LRS and ORS, a civil SLP, listed before himself and Justice Sapre on April 10. This case arose out of a judgment by the Allahabad High Court in May 2014. Justice Agrawal was a judge of the Allahabad High Court before he was elevated to the Madras High Court. Possibly, he might have heard the case at some stage, while serving at the Allahabad High Court.

Justice L Nageswara Rao recused from the following three cases: Narayani v Basheer & Ors, a Criminal Appeal, listed before Justice SA Bobde and himself on April 11, R Sundara Ramaiah & Ors v Chairman Urban Co-op Bank Ltd & Anr, also a Criminal Appeal, listed before the same bench on April 12, and State of Maharashtra and Etc v Bhagyashree and Etc, a Criminal SLP, arising out of a judgment of the Bombay High Court at Nagpur, listed before the same bench on April 13.

As Justice Rao was elevated from the Bar to the Bench, it is possible that he might have represented any of these parties as their counsel earlier.

Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman recused from hearing Nifty Chemicals Pvt Ltd v Union of India, a group of IAs in a civil Transfer Petition filed in 2005. This was listed before the bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and himself on April 10. The case will be listed before an appropriate bench after the summer vacation, as prayed by the parties. Justice Nariman might have represented any of the parties listed in this case.

Justice Navin Sinha recused from hearing TSR Financial Services Pvt Ltd v Central Bank of India & Ors. Etc on April 10, when it was listed before the bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and himself. This civil SLP arose out of a judgment passed by Patna High Court in May 2015.  Justice Sinha was transferred from the Patna High Court to the Chhattisgarh High Court in July 2014. He possibly heard this case when he was still with the Patna High Court.

Justice Uday Umesh Lalit recused from hearing State of Uttar Pradesh v Vikash, a Criminal SLP arising out of a judgment delivered by the Allahabad High Court on June 7, 2016. Justice Lalit, elevated to the Supreme Court from the Bar directly on August 13, 2014, might have represented any of the parties in the case before his elevation.

Justice Bobde recused from hearing Tehmtan Irani and Ors v Gaiv Dinshaw Irani and Ors, a Contempt Petition in a Civil Appeal, filed in 2014, listed before himself and Justice Rao on April 11. It is not clear why he recused in this case.

The case of ITC Limited v Blue Coast Hotels Ltd & Ors, which we had referred to in our earlier edition of #RecusalWatch, saw a second recusal from another judge, Justice AK Sikri. It was listed before himself and Justice Ashok Bhushan on April 12.

The case is likely to be listed before an appropriate bench on July 25, although the bench had requested its listing in the week following April 13, after getting the necessary approval from the Chief Justice of India.

Lastly, Justice S Abdul Nazeer recused from hearing BV Prakash v High Court of Karnataka & Anr on April 13, when it was listed before the bench of Justice J Chelameswar and himself. This civil SLP, arising out of a judgment of Karnataka High Court at Bangalore on November 30, 2016, might have been heard by Justice Nazeer before his elevation to the Supreme Court in February this year.

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