Breaking: Justice Arun Mishra not to recuse from hearing Land Acquisition cases

Breaking: Justice Arun Mishra not to recuse from hearing Land Acquisition cases

Shruti Mahajan

Justice Arun Mishra of the Supreme Court today refused to recuse from hearing a batch of petitions relating to the Land Acquisition Act.

The order was passed by the Constitution Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra along with Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, and Ravindra Bhat. 

The Constitution Bench will hear arguments on the case from 2 pm today.

The recusal of Justice Arun Mishra was sought by certain parties to the litigation, including a farmers’ association, on the grounds of “bias of predisposition” with respect to his judgment in the Indore Development Authority case. The core issue in the batch of petitions relates to the interpretation of Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (Land Acquisition Act, 2013).

Justice Mishra was part of the three-Judge Bench that had already delivered a judgment on the issue under consideration by the Constitution Bench. It was on account of contrarian opinions found in judgments by Benches of equal strength that the question relating to Section 24 was referred to a Constitution Bench.

Since the consideration of the issue by the Constitution Bench is in “corrective jurisdiction” as Senior Counsel Shyam Divan submitted, there arose an apprehension pertaining to the presence of Justice Mishra on the Bench.

During the hearing Justice Mishra had hinted that he would not recuse from the case, as the alternative would  amount to “succumbing to forces” who are trying to “tame the judiciary”.

“If we succumb to this prayer, this would be Bench hunting and taming the judiciary. You want the bench of your choice…that is destroying the very fundamentals of the system. I perceive it like that…”

Justice Mishra had also raised questions on the “persons behind” the plea for recusal. Remarking that it cannot be “poor farmers”, he said,

Circumstances compelled me to hear this. This would be the blackest chapter in history if we succumb to this. There are forces…and I am not referring to media. Who are these persons?. Who is behind this (recusal application)? These are not the poor farmers. They are not farmers and I am saying it with a sense of responsibility.”

Senior Advocates Shyam Divan, Rakesh Dwivedi, and Gopal Sankaranarayanan argued for Justice Mishra’s recusal and submitted that the case for the same was argued on the basis of global standards. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had favoured Justice Mishra’s stand and submitted that it would be against the oath taken by the judge if he recused from the case.

After hearing the arguments for two days, the Constitution Bench had reserved its order on the issue of recusal on October 16.

Read Order:

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