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The Supreme Court was witness to a heated exchange between Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan and Justice Arun Mishra during today’s hearing of the land acquisition cases.
The altercation resulted in Gopal Sankaranarayanan walking out of the courtroom after Justice Mishra, who is heading the Constitution Bench hearing the land acquisition matters, threatened the lawyer with contempt.
As per reports, when Sankaranarayanan started arguing for one of the parties, Justice Mishra asked him to go straight to his interpretation of Section 24 of the Land Acquisition Act. Even as Sankaranarayanan sought some time to shape his arguments, Justice Mishra told him to go straight to the point.
When Sankaranarayanan asked the Court if he could come back to his 8-point submissions after explaining his interpretation of Section 24, Justice Mishra reportedly reacted,
“Are you retorting? Are you retorting to us? How dare you?”
The judge proceeded to threaten the Senior Advocate with contempt if he continued speaking. Mishra J reportedly said,
“One more word and I will not only issue contempt against you but will also ensure you are convicted.”
This prompted Sankaranarayanan to close his files and walk out of the courtroom.
A Constitution Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, and Ravindra Bhat is hearing the cases.
The matters were initially heard on October 15, when the recusal of Justice Arun Mishra from the case was sought for. Incidentally, Sankaranarayanan was one of the lawyers who argued for Justice Mishra’s recusal, given the fact that he was part of the three-Judge Bench that had already delivered a judgment on the issue under consideration by the Constitution Bench.
During the recusal hearing, Sankaranarayanan had submitted that the judge ought to recuse, as otherwise he would have to decide whether he was himself guilty of judicial indiscipline in overruling the judgment of a co-ordinate bench.
After hearing arguments on the question of recusal, the Bench reserved its order. On October 24, such questions were put to bed after Justice Mishra passed a judgment refusing to recuse from the matters.