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Litigant Cannot Seek Recusal Of A Judge On The Ground That He/She May Not Get A Favourable Order: Supreme Court

5 Feb 2021 10:48 AM GMT
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A litigant cannot be permitted to browbeat the Court by seeking a Bench of its choice, the Supreme Court observed while rejecting a plea seeking recusal of Justice DY Chandrachud from hearing a case.

The court observed that a litigant cannot seek recusal of a judge from hearing his/her case on the ground that he/she may not get a favourable order.

This case arose from a domestic violence complaint before Metropolitan Magistrate, Bengaluru, which was dismissed. The appeal against this order was dismissed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Bengaluru. The High Court also dismissed the revision petition filed by the petitioner. The petitioner assailed this order passed by the High Court by filing a writ petition under Article 226 with a prayer to declare the judgment of the Single Judge ' void'. Later, this writ petition was transferred to Apex Court. The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph, in its order passed in September last year, held that a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution would not be maintainable in order to challenge an order which has been passed by the High Court in the exercise of its judicial powers.

While her application seeking to recall the order was being considered by the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, the petitioner, who appeared in person, submitted that Justice Chandrachud should recuse himself from hearing the present application. Justice Shah, who authored the order, observed:

"We see no valid and good ground for recusal by one of us. Merely because the order might not be in favour of the applicant earlier, cannot be a ground for recusal. A litigant cannot be permitted to browbeat the Court by seeking a Bench of its choice. Therefore, the prayer of the applicant­ petitioner in person that one of us (Dr. Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J.) should recuse from hearing the present miscellaneous application is not accepted and the said prayer is rejected"

Observing thus, the bench dismissed the application seeking recall of the earlier order. The court noticed that earlier one other application was filed by the applicant for the very relief, i.e., to recall order was lodged by the Registrar and the application challenging the order of the Registrar lodging the application was dismissed.

Earlier Judgments on Recusal

In a judgment passed in August 2019, [Seema Sapra vs. Court On Its Own Motion] the Supreme Court had observed that a judge can recuse at his own volition, but need not at the mere asking of a litigating party.

In October 2019, the Supreme Court rejected the prayer for 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. Justice Mishra, who authored the judgment observed that the non recusal is in interest of justice and he would be committing a blunder if he recuses from the case. The judge also added that recusal cannot not to be forced by any litigant to choose a Bench and it is for the concerned Judge to decide to recuse.

In its order dismissing Harsh Mander's plea seeking recusal of the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi from hearing the Assam Detention Centre cases, the Supreme Court observed that a litigant should not be permitted and allowed to question a Judge on 'perceived bias' during the course of hearing.

A five Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, which heard the batch of petitions challenging the National Judicial Appointments Commission, had rejected the plea seeking recusal by Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar.

CASE: Neelam Manmohan Attavar vs Manmohan Attavar (D) through LRs [Miscellaneous Application No.42 of 2021]
CORAM: Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah

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