#RecusalWatch: Eleven SC judges recuse from hearing fourteen cases
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#RecusalWatch: Eleven SC judges recuse from hearing fourteen cases

Bar & Bench

Last week, [April 17 to 21], eleven Judges of the Supreme Court of India recused from hearing fourteen cases.

Here are the details:

Justice R Banumathi recused from hearing a civil SLP, P Sundarajan v State of Tamil Nadu & Ors, [5253/2016], a land acquisition and registration matter listed before the bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and herself on April 19. The case arose out of the judgment dated November 16, 2015 delivered by Madras High Court. The matter will now be listed before another bench on July 5.

Justice DY Chandrachud recused from hearing a Civil Appeal [5662/2007], Snehadeep Structures Pvt Ltd v Maharashtra Small Scale Ind. Dev. Corp. Ltd, listed before the bench of the Chief Justice JS Khehar, himself, and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on April 19. It is an Arbitration matter and the case arose out of the judgment of the Bombay High Court delivered in 2006, when Justice Chandrachud was a judge of the High Court. It is possible that he might have heard it earlier.

Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman recused from hearing a civil SLP [10566/2010], arising out of a judgment of the Karnataka High Court in 2009. Shantharam Shetty and Muniyamma & Ors was listed before Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and himself on April 17. The case is likely to be listed before an appropriate bench on May 9.

Justice Nariman also recused from hearing two related criminal SLPs [5275-5276 & 6754-6756/2011] filed by well-known social activist, Teesta Atul Setalvad in which the State of Gujarat is the respondent. The case was listed before Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and himself on April 21. Senior counsel Sanjay Parikh and Kamini Jaiswal represented Teesta Setalvad. This case pertains to allegations of perjury against Setalvad and her NGO, Citizens for Peace and Justice (CJP). The case will be listed for hearing before an appropriate bench on May 4.

Justice AM Khanwilkar recused from hearing Munu Sen v State of Chhattisgarh, a criminal SLP [1677/2016], listed before the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and himself on April 17. The case arose out of a judgment delivered by the Chhattisgarh High Court in February 2014. It is not clear why Justice Khanwilkar recused from hearing this case. The case will now be listed before another bench on July 10.

He also recused from hearing Civil Appeal [Diary No.29168/2016] Sub. Lt. Purvesh Tanwar v Union of India, listed before the same bench on the same day. Justice Khanwilkar, along with Justice Chandrachud, heard this matter on December 5 last year, when the bench directed its listing after the winter vacation, as prayed by the parties. After that, it was heard by the bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi twice. This case will now be listed before another bench on July 10.

It appears that changes in the bench composition plays havoc with the listing of cases, and causes delay in their hearing.

Justice Deepak Gupta recused from hearing a civil transfer petition, Union of India v Uday Singh Kushwaha & Anr Etc., [608-609/2017], listed before the bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and himself on April 17. The recusal order quotes Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar as saying that several similar matters are pending in the Supreme Court. This is a service matter involving promotion. The case has been listed before the bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit, on April 28.

Justice L Nageswara Rao recused from hearing a civil writ petition, Bal Ram and Ors v State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors, [652/15] listed before the bench of Justice SA Bobde and himself on April 17. This is a service matter involving seniority. The same bench heard it on January 23 earlier, although Justice Bobde, sitting with Justice Ashok Bhushan, heard it three times before that. It will now go before another bench on May 5.

Justice Rao also recused from hearing M Krishna v State of Karnataka & Anr, a Criminal SLP [2694/2017], listed before the same bench on April 21. The case arose out of a judgment passed by the Karnataka High Court, regarding quashing of criminal proceedings against the appellant. Senior advocate Shyam Divan represents the appellant.

It is not clear why Justice Rao recused from hearing this matter, which will be posted before an appropriate bench on May 5.

Justice J Chelameswar recused from hearing a civil SLP [CC 7776-7777/2017], Chongtham Shantibala Devi v Hon’ble Gauhati High Court and Ors, arising out of a judgment of the Manipur High Court delivered on November 15, 2016, and listed before the bench of himself and Justice S Abdul Nazeer. This is a matter pertaining to service conditions of an individual judicial officer. This will now be heard by another bench on May 4.

Justice Chelameswar was the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court before his transfer to Kerala High Court, and that is the obvious reason why he has recused from this case. One wonders if the registry knew this fact earlier, before listing it before him. It could have avoided unnecessary delay.

Justice Ashok Bhushan recused from hearing a civil SLP [CC 8124-8125/2017], Dinesh Chandra Pandey v Brijesh Chandra Pandey & Ors, arising out of the judgment of the Allahabad High Court delivered in 2012. The matter, involving the determination of the will for a residential house, was listed before Justices Sikri and himself on April 21. It will now be heard by another bench on July 7.

As Justice Bhushan was a Judge of the Allahabad High Court between 2001 to 2014, it is possible that he wanted to recuse because it was heard and decided by the High Court during his tenure.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul recused from hearing a civil SLP [cc 8074/2017], Sharma and Associates Pvt Ltd v National Projects Construction Corporation Ltd, arising out of a Delhi High Court judgment in an arbitration case last year. The case was decided by the High Court bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Pratibha Rani.

As Justice Kaul was a judge of and later the acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, he probably wants to avoid hearing appeals arising out of cases decided by his former colleagues in the High Courts where he served.  The case was later heard by the bench of Chief Justice Khehar and Justice Chandrachud, which disposed it of on April 24.

Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar recused from hearing a civil SLP, [15120/2016], Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise Ltd. & Ors, v State of Karnataka & Ors, listed before justices Dipak Misra, AM Khanwilkar and himself on April 21. The case arose out of a judgment of Karnataka High Court, delivered in 2015, when he was the judge of the High Court, and involved payment of tax by the appellant under the Karnataka Value Added Tax Act, 2003. The case will now be heard by another bench on July 17.

Justice Amitava Roy recused from hearing a civil SLP, Vincent Daimary v State of Assam, [32406/2014] listed before Justices Arun Mishra and himself on April 21. The case arose out of a judgment of Gauhati High Court in 2014. The appellant, whose father was killed by Bodo militants many years ago, was denied a job on compassionate grounds, but was granted an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 3 lakh.

As Justice Roy was a judge of the Gauhati High Court from 2002 to 2012, the judges who delivered the High Court judgment might have been his colleagues on the bench. The case will now be listed before another bench on July 7.

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