Challenge to Section 24 of Land Acquisition Act: Live Updates from Supreme Court

Challenge to Section 24 of Land Acquisition Act: Live Updates from Supreme Court

Bar & Bench

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India is currently hearing a batch of petitions relating to the interpretation of Section 24 of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (Land Acquisition Act, 2013).

The Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also comprises Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, and Ravindra Bhat.

Live updates of today’s hearing follow:

  • Justice Arun Mishra comes down upon the social media campaign to malign him. Justice MR Shah also echoes Justice Mishra’s sentiments. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also agrees with the judges.
  • “There is a pattern wherein two days before important matters, an article appears on social media or a website, intended to influence the hearing. Nobody takes social media seriously but this pattern emreging should be taken seriously”, Tushar Mehta.
  • Senior Counsel Shyam Divan says what appears on social media should not be taken seriously.
  • Question is can we not be on Constitution Bench though it is us who referred the matter to larger Bench, Justice Arun Mishra asks Shyam Divan.
  • “If I am satisfied about my integrity that I can decide this matter independently I will not recuse. If I know I can be influenced by anybody other than God, then I will be the first person to recuse”, Justice Arun Mishra.
  • “I am satisfied that I am not biased. If I am little biased in my heart, then I will be the first person to recuse”, Justice Arun Mishra.
  • Shyam Divan urges Bench to consider Impartial Tribunal Test.
  • “I may be criticised, I may not be a hero but if my integrity is clear, I will not recuse”, Justice Arun Mishra.

Arguments by Senior Advocate Shyam Divan

  • Shyam Divan setting out the issues involved in the matter.
  • Divan reading out the reasons given in Indore Development to hold Pune Municipal Corporation per incuriam.
  • Adverts to the partially dissenting judgment of Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar wherein he had not held Pune Municipal Corporation per incuriam though he had concurred with the majority on other issues.
  • Says it will be extremely difficult for the counsel if one of the judges on Constitution Bench was part of the Bench whose judgment has been referred to Constitution Bench. Could be like arguing an appeal against a judgment of another Bench.
  • Shyam Divan quoting from NJAC judgment on the recusal of judges.
  • What is the scope of the term ‘impartial’? asks Justice Arun Mishra to Shyam Divan. Impartiality is predisposition, Shyam Divan.
  • You are doubting that you can convince us. Convince us, Justice Arun Mishra. That we will do before an appropriate Bench, Shyam Divan.
  • We are not premised on your reference order. Our submission is that the Indore Development Authority judgment is not a reference order. It is a 100-page judgment, Shyam Divan.
  • Justice Ravindra Bhat says the bias in this case at the most could be intellectual bias, not pecuniary bias or any other kind of bias. Justice Bhat asks whether there are precedents on the recusal of judges on the basis of intellectual bias.
  • Shyam Divan pointing out a judgment that says a judge should be free of prejudice against litigants. Bias need not be pecuniary bias, submits Divan.
  • Bias may be defined as a predetermination to decide a case. It is a condition of mind of the judge which does not enable him to decide a particular case without pre-disposition, Shyam Divan.
  • Justice Arun Mishra says that in the instant case, the Bench is not deciding any lis between parties. It is only going to settle a position of law. So how can the precedents cited by Divan apply in the instant case, asks Justice Mishra.
  • Justice Arun Mishra sitting to decide the correctness of the Indore Development Authority is in effect exercise of appellate jurisdiction. Hence, the Impartial Institution test should be applied, Shyam Divan.
  • I think this is an obvious case (of bias). We have a 100-page judgment which holds that an earlier judgment is per incuriam and other cases also should be reconsidered, Shyam Divan.
  • The 100-page judgment you keep saying is only a view, Justice Ravindra Bhat. Yes but a well-considered view, Divan.
  • Nobody has raised this question in this court or any other court, Justice Arun Mishra.
  • Justice Arun Mishra takes exception to Shyam Divan using the word ‘impartial’; “If you want to insult the court, go on. We wont stop you. It hurts me. What will public feel about this court”, Justice Arun Mishra.
  • “Very well. I will try and answer the questions”, responds Shyam Divan.
  • There is a march towards strengthening our institutions. And the standards laid down are not local but international used in foreign jurisdictions, submits Shyam Divan referring to various principles mandating accountability of judges.
  • Bench rises for the day.

[Read Order]

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