Breaking : SC Turns Down Plea For Recusal Of Justice Arun Mishra From Land Acquisition Bench

Breaking : SC Turns Down Plea For Recusal Of Justice Arun Mishra From Land Acquisition BenchJustice Arun Mishra

The Supreme Court has rejected the plea for the recusal of Justice Arun Mishra from heading the Constitution Bench formed to settle the interpretation of Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act.

On October 16, the Constitution Bench had reserved orders on the preliminary point of Justice Arun Mishra's recusal.

Justice Arun Mishra has written a judgment explaining his reasons for not recusing. Justices M R Shah and Indira Banerjee have written concurring opinions.

The bench will resume hearing the merits of the matter at 2PM today.

The issue before this bench is the interpretation of Section 24(2) of the new land acquisition Act.

As per Sec 24(2), the acquisition proceedings initiated 5 years before the new Act will lapse if compensation has not been paid to land owner.

In 2014, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising the then CJI R M Lodha, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Madan Lokur held that deposit of compensation amount by the Government in treasury cannot be treated as payment to the land owner (Pune Municipal Corporation v Harakchand Misirimal Solanki).

Three years later, on December 7 , 2017, a two judges bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy doubted the correctness of the 2014 decision, and referred it to larger bench.

On February 8 ,2018, a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, A K Goel and M Shantanagoudar overruled the 2014 decision, and held that deposit of compensation in government treasury is to be regarded as payment to land owner (Indore Development Authority v Shailendra).

Justice Shantanagoudar dissented holding that a three judges bench cannot overrule a precedent laid down by a bench of equal strength.

The overruling created a flutter in SC. Another three judge bench headed by Justice Lokur, who was part of the 2014 decision, took objection to the decision of Justice Arun Mishra-led bench, and restrained High Courts from dealing with cases under Sec 24 until issue was resolved.

Later, two two -judge benches, one headed by Justice Mishra and another by Justice Goel, referred the issue to CJI.

The correctness of the 2018 judgment authored by Justice Arun Mishra is an issue before the Constitution Bench which is led by Justice Mishra himself.

The petitioners submitted that this has given rise to apprehension of bias and sought his recusal.

Predisposition towards a particular view raises reasonable doubt of judicial bias, submitted the petitioners. Justice Mishra has consistently doubted the correctness of 2014 judgment, and has written elaborately overruling it, submitted Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, counsel for the petitioners.

Justice Mishra had asserted that he was not biased and was open to taking a different view. He had slammed the comments in social media against him heading the bench and had said that he will not allow the maligning of the institution.