Spotlight On Recent Appointments To The Supreme Court - Justice Rajesh Bindal

V Venkatesan

12 March 2023 5:04 AM GMT

  • Spotlight On Recent Appointments To The Supreme Court - Justice Rajesh Bindal

    A general criticism of the Indian Courts has been that very little is known to the public about the judges being recommended by respective Collegium before their appointment, on merit and suitability. A designated Secretariat ideally should do the job, unfortunately we don’t have such a mechanism. Livelaw has taken an initiative to share relevant information about the appointees and we...

    A general criticism of the Indian Courts has been that very little is known to the public about the judges being recommended by respective Collegium before their appointment, on merit and suitability. A designated Secretariat ideally should do the job, unfortunately we don’t have such a mechanism. Livelaw has taken an initiative to share relevant information about the appointees and we are starting with the appointments to the Apex Court. The focus is to shed light on some of their significant high court judgments.

    We traced the judicial career of Justice Pankaj Mithal in Part 1 and of Justice Dipankar Datta in Part II. In Part III, we offered a glimpse into the judicial philosophy of Justice Sanjay Karol. In Part IV, we offered some of the highlights of Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar’s judicial pronouncements during his tenures as a High Court Judge and as the Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court. In Part V, we surveyed some of the key judgments delivered by Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, during his career as a Judge of the Patna and Andhra Pradesh High Courts. In Part VI, we offered a peek into the judicial philosophy of Justice Manoj Misra.

    In Part VII, we bring to light the jurisprudence of Justice Rajesh Bindal, who served four High Courts, before his elevation to the Supreme Court.


    Born on April 16, 1961 at Ambala City, Haryana, Rajesh Bindal got his LL.B. Degree from Kurukshetra University in 1985 and started his legal journey from High Court of Punjab & Haryana in September 1985.

    As a lawyer, he represented Income-tax Department, Haryana region and Employees Provident Fund Organization (Punjab & Haryana Regions) before the High Court and Central Administrative Tribunal and Chandigarh Administration before Central Administrative Tribunal.

    He remained associated, on behalf of the State of Haryana, in settlement of the dispute concerning Satluj Yamuna Water with the State of Punjab before the Eradi Tribunal and the Supreme Court.

    He was elevated as a Judge of the High Court of Punjab & Haryana on March 22, 2006.

    He chaired a multi-member Committee pursuant to Resolution No. 7 adopted in the Chief Justices Conference, 2016 and was entrusted with the task to create a uniform platform and formulate Guidelines for the Reception, Retrieval, Authentication and Preservation of Electronic evidence. The Committee submitted its Report including Draft Rules for reception of Electronic Evidence to the Supreme Court in November 2018.

    He was appointed Chairman of another multi-member Committee constituted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to study Civil and Legal Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill, 2016, and Inter Country Removal & Retention of Children. The report, accompanied by the recommendations and draft of the Protection of Children (Inter-Country Removal and Retention) Bill, 2018, was submitted to the Ministry in April 2018.

    Before his transfer to High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, he remained President, Board of Governors of Chandigarh Judicial Academy and Chairman of various Committees including Computer Committee and was instrumental in development of large number of Softwares including development of Software MedLEaPR (Medico-Legal Examination and Post-Mortem Reporting System). The MedLEaPR is a workflow based web based centralised system for preparation of Medico Legal and Post Mortem Reports, which provides requisite access security, based on roles & responsibilities of concerned doctors, health institutes etc. Beside Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, this application is replicated in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have also shown interest in the system. In this web based application all records pertaining to MLR and PMR are not only computerised but synced with the Court File in Punjab, Haryana and Union Territory of Chandigarh.

    Under his guidance, Haryana developed a Litigation Management System at High Court and District Level to effectively manage the state litigation. The same system has been adopted by Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

    On transfer to High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, he took oath of office on 19th November, 2018. He was nominated as Chairman of the Committee constituted for conducting assessment for optimal use of technology by National Legal Services Authority and the State Legal Services Authorities including use of Artificial Intelligence. The committee’s report was submitted to the National Legal Services Authority.

    He was also Member of the Committee constituted by National Legal Services Authority to go into the existing framework of Lok Adalats and Mediation and to suggest ways for enhancing operational efficiency and plugging gaps, if any, for better application of these ADR mechanisms for weaker sections of the society.

    He took over as the Acting Chief Justice of the Common High Court for the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh with effect from December 8,,2020.

    He was transferred as a Judge of the High Court at Calcutta and was sworn-in on January 5, 2021.

    He headed a Committee set up by the e-Committee of the Supreme Court to formulate Model Electronic Register, which can be adopted for use with suitable regional variation in all parts of the country by the District Judiciary to replace manual registers and avoid multiple entries. Its report has been submitted.

    He was appointed as the Chief Justice of the High Court at Calcutta with effect from April 27, 2021.

    On transfer again, he took oath as the Chief Justice of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad on October 11, 2021.

    He was elevated as Judge of the Supreme Court of India and assumed office on February 13 this year.

    Landmark judgment

    Justice Rajesh Bindal was part of the bench presided by the then Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Gita Mittal, which declared criminalisation of beggary to be unconstitutional and struck down the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Beggary Act, 1960 and Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Beggary Rules, 1964 on October 25, 2019. The judgment in the case, Suhail Rashid Bhat v State of Jammu and Kashmir and others was authored by Chief Justice Gita Mittal who had also authored a similar judgment in 2018, striking down the beggary prevention laws prevalent in Delhi. The criminalisation of begging which makes poverty an offence, is intended to remove poor people from public spaces, deprive them of the Constitutional guarantees of inclusiveness and pluralism and results in further deprivation to them, the bench held.

    Child welfare

    In 2017, Justice Bindal as the Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge, headed the committee which examined issues relating to inter-country parental child removal, and suggested a model legislation to safeguard interests of the parents and the children. The Committee recommended that the process of decision-making regarding custody of children is not a mechanical exercise, rather it has to be dealt with by application of mind. We cannot compromise with the best interest of child for speedy return, the committee had noted.

    The committee had recommended that the Indian diaspora living abroad should mandatorily get any additions in their families by way of marriage/birth/adoption, registered with the Indian embassy in the country where they reside. Online solution, therefore, should also be provided, it had suggested. The proposed Authority, while dealing with the cases involving inter-country parental child removal, must be mindful of the fact that the child should not be reduced to the status of a commodity in such litigation, the committee had recommended.

    Setting aside illegal detention

    In Sartaj Ahmad Allie v State of J&K and others, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed a detention order passed under the provisions of the J&K Public Safety Act, 1978. The Bench of Justice Rajnesh Oswal and Justice Rajesh Bindal, while allowing the appeal of the detenu against the order of the Single Judge, deplored that the whole purpose of the preventive laws was getting defeated due to the callous approach of the detaining authorities. The Bench called for imparting proper training of the detention authorities about the requirements of the law in passing the detention order so as to ensure that such orders were not set aside on technical grounds.

    Two-finger test

    In State of J&K v Mohd Imran Khan, the bench of the Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Sanjay Dhar issued direction to all the health professionals of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and Union Territory of Ladakh to strictly desist from undertaking two finger test on the rape survivors. The Bench also directed the trial courts in the two union territories to avoid disclosing identity of rape survivors in their proceedings and judgments. Finding that the trial court in this case had mentioned the name of the prosecutrix, the Bench said that although the prohibition in Section 228A of IPC may not strictly apply to the judgment of a Court, yet the courts must avoid disclosing the name(s) of prosecutrix in their orders and judgments, so as to avoid embarrassment and humiliation to a victim of rape.

    Further, noting that in the instant case, the prosecutrix, who was minor at the relevant time, was subjected to two finger test, the Bench held that it must have violated her privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity. The Bench relied on the Supreme Court’s judgment in Lillu and others v State of Haryana (2013), to reiterate that the two finger test has been declared as unconstitutional.

    Streamlining land acquisition cases

    In Union of India v Lal Chand, Justice Rajesh Bindal sought to streamline the procedure in cases where the awards of the Reference Court assessing compensation on account of acquisition of land are challenged. He held that all the objections received by the Collector in land acquisition cases should be referred to the court for adjudication maximum within three months after receipt thereof. In case some objections are received late by the Collector for any reason whatsoever, he should be duty-bound to refer the same to the court immediately after its receipt, so that the same is clubbed with the cases already pending and are disposed of along with that. The decision of the land references arising out of the same acquisition in piece-meal on different dates has to be avoided at all cost unless the reference is received late, he held. He added that every reference court should dispose of the references ordinarily within one year of receipt of the reference and the outer limit should be the end of the second year.

    In Bishan Dass and Others v Union Territory of J&K and Others, land acquisition was sought to be justified by the state for widening of Jammu-Akhnoor road. This is a strategic road for use by the defence forces for security of the country. The petitioners owned only six kanals and 1.5 marlas of land out of the total acquired land measuring 102 kanals and 16 marlas. Justice Bindal held that any acquisition process could not be stalled on account of technical issues raised by the petitioners, where the project is of national importance, and the affected persons already had knowledge of the acquisition though local newspapers and otherwise. He held that actual notice to land owners can be implied as well as constructive. Justice Bindal held that acquisition could not be quashed when 99 out of 126 pillars for constructing a flyover had already been erected. If the work was not completed, the entire four lane of the road on both sides of the flyover and the amount spent on construction of the flyover would go waste, which would mean loss of crores of rupees for public exchequer, he reasoned. More importantly, the delay in completion of the project would result in compromising with the security of the country, he added.

    Political neutrality

    In CBI ACB Kolkata v Shri Firhad Hakim @ Bobby Hakim and others, the Bench of the Acting Chief Justice, Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee took exception to the dharna led by the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee in front of CBI office against the arrest of four TMC leaders in the Narada scam, and the presence of state law minister with 2000-3000 supporters in the premises of the trial court which was hearing the bail applications of the accused. The confidence of the people in the justice system would be eroded if such incidents occur, while political leaders arrested, are being produced in the court, the Bench added. In this case, the bench stayed the order of the Special CBI Court, which granted bail to two TMC Ministers, one TMC MLA and a former Mayor of Kolkata in the Narada case.

    The stay of the interim order of bail, however, led to the then Chairman of the Bar Council of West Bengal, Ashok Kumar Deb writing to the then CJI N.V.Ramana, alleging that the stay was granted without giving the aggrieved parties an opportunity of being heard.

    In June 2021, a five-judge bench headed by the Acting Chief Justice, Rajesh Bindal, in Susmita Saha Dutta v Union of India and Others, heard a clutch of petitions alleging hundreds of persons got displaced due to the post-poll violence in West Bengal, and that they were unable to return to their homes due to fear of backlash. The Bench, keeping in view that the instances sought to be projected by the Petitioners alleging violation of human rights, directed the NHRC Chairman to constitute a committee to examine the complaints.

    In August 2021, in Anindya Sundar Das v Union of India, the Acting Chief Justice, Rajesh Bindal, in the lead judgment, rejected the West Bengal government’s contention that there existed a reasonable apprehension of bias against members of the NHRC committee who had been tasked with the responsibility of collating complaints pertaining to allegations of post-poll violence in the state. The five-judge bench, headed by the Acting CJ, Rajesh Bindal handed over to the CBI the investigation of cases pertaining to murder, rape and crimes against women which had allegedly taken place in West Bengal in May 2021, soon after the declaration of assembly election results.

    In October 2021, the Bench comprising the Acting CJ Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj perused the status report submitted by the CBI in a sealed cover, and indicted the state government for appointing additional IPS officers to assist the Special Investigation Team, and for not extending any compensation to the victims of post-poll violence. Although the state government had appealed in the Supreme Court against the High Court’s handing over the investigation to the CBI, the Bench noted that the Apex Court did not stay its order, and therefore, the State Government was duty-bound to comply with its directive regarding compensation to the victims.

    In Sayan Banerjee v The Election Commission, the request made by the Chief Secretary of West Bengal to the Election Commission to hold the bye-elections in Bhawanipur assembly constituency on September 30, 2021 was questioned. The Chief Secretary had cited administrative exigencies and public interest, and the need to avoid a vacuum in the State, as the Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee was set to contest the bye-election. The Election Commission accepted the special request of the state government to hold the bye-election in Bhawanipur although it had decided not to hold bye-elections in 31 other assembly constituencies across the country, in view of the Covid surge.

    The Bench of the Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj, while dismissing the challenge to the EC’s decision to prioritise the bye-election to Bhawanipur, passed strictures against the Chief Secretary for writing to the ECI in this regard. The Chief Secretary projected himself to be more as a servant of the political party in power than a public servant, the Bench had observed. ‘He is a public servant, who is to discharge his duties in terms of provisions of law, whosoever may be in power. He is not to ensure that any particular person should come to power, and in the absence there would constitutional crisis’, the Bench quipped. As Mamata Banerjee had lost the election from Nandigram constituency during the 2021 Assembly elections, she had to be elected within six months after assuming office as the Chief Minister. Following the resignation of TMC MLA, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay to facilitate her return to the assembly, the ACJ Bindal had questioned why the costs of such bye-election must be borne by the public exchequer.

    Judicial reforms

    In The Court on its own motion: In Re: Delayed Investigation in Criminal cases, the Bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee, took suo moto cognizance regarding delayed investigation in criminal cases. The Bench noted that there were 999 cases where the charge sheet had not been filed within the time permitted indifferent statutes, whereas some of the cases were more than a decade old. The Bench insisted on preparation of a plan to update and augment the required infrastructure to expedite such investigation.

    In August 2021, the Calcutta High Court, under the guidance of the Acting Chief Justice, Rajesh Bindal, published an ‘Action Plan’ for judicial officers in order to reduce the pendency of cases in subordinate judiciary. The Action Plan envisages targets for disposal of different categories of cases pending for seven years and more and also allots time-frames for such speedy disposal.

    As Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, Rajesh Bindal, while heading a seven-judges Bench in November 2022, indicted the senior civil servants of Uttar Pradesh Government for taking no action, and keeping matters pending on judicial infrastructure.

    On the Role of the Speaker

    In Ambika Roy v The Hon’ble Speaker, West Bengal Legislative Assembly and Others, the appointment of Mukul Roy as the PAC Chairman was under challenge. The Bench of the Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj had observed in this case that it is a constitutional convention to appoint a leader of the Opposition as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. Following the High Court’s directive, the West Bengal Speaker dismissed the petition to disqualify Roy on the ground of defection. In April 2022, the High Court described the Speaker’s order perverse, set it aside and directed him to decide the case afresh. In June 2022, the Speaker rejected the disqualification petition again saying that there was no evidence of Mukul Roy joining the TMC. On June 27, 2022, Mukul Roy resigned as PAC Chairman citing health reasons. The issue thus became infructuous.

    Clarity on Natural Justice

    In Durgawati Singh and others v Deputy Registrar, Firms, Societies & Chits Lucknow and others, the bench of the Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Jaspreet Singh of the Allahabad High Court, sitting in Lucknow, reiterated that a court, in exercise of its discretion, may refuse relief in a case where there has been a breach of principles of natural justice, if it is of the opinion that no “real prejudice” is caused to the affected party.

    Anti-CAA Protests

    In Mohd. Aman Khan v Union of India and others, the Bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice J.J. Munir of Allahabad High Court, while dismissing a bunch of pleas raising issues pertaining to certain incidents (during the anti-CAA protest) which took place in Aligarh Muslim University in December 2019, observed that the students take admissions in universities or any educational institution for the purpose of education and not indulge in these kind of activities, which brings bad name to the great educational institutions.


    In September 2019, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association decided to boycott the court of Justice Rajesh Bindal in protest against his ‘adverse’ attitude towards advocates. Justice Bindal too charge as the Judge of the High Court on November 19, 2018, and was the second senior-most Judge of the high court, when the Association gave the call for boycott.

    In June 2021, the Chairman of the Bar Council of West Bengal, Ashok Kumar Deb wrote to the then Chief Justice of India, N.V.Ramana asking the latter to remove the Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, Rajesh Bindal. Deb alleged that Justice Bindal was a partial, unfair and biased judge, whose continuance at High Court interfered with fair and impartial dispensation of justice.

    However, four elected members of the Bar Council addressed a letter to the CJI subsequently alleging that Deb misused the Bar Council’s letterhead to send a letter to him seeking ACJ’s removal. The members called Deb’s letter as highly derisive and by no figment of imagination represented the sentiments of the majority of the members of the Bar, constraining them to register their dissent.

    In Akshaya Kumar Sarangi v Bar Council of West Bengal, a Bench comprising Justices Harish Tandon and Subhasis Dasgupta, however, refused to interfere in a plea moved against Deb, seeking initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him for using the official letterhead of the Bar Council to percolate his own views. The Bench expressed the view that if criticism of a Judge is marked by malice, then stringent action must be taken against such errant persons. The Bench was of the view that if Deb had violated any statutory provisions, recourse was available under the statute and redress could be made therein.

    In July 2021, the Bar Association of the Calcutta High Court held a General Body meeting in order to address the grievances of a section of lawyers who had decided to boycott the courtroom of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal citing alleged transgressions in his administrative duties. The lawyers were aggrieved by the decision of the Chief Justice to delist a case from Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya and reassign it to a Division Bench.

    On July 19, 2021, Justice Bhattacharyya had issued a strongly worded order objecting to such a transfer of case by the Acting Chief Justice. Such a transfer was in violation of the Appellate Side Rules of the Calcutta HHigh Court as Division Benches cannot adjudicate upon civil revisional applications, the Judge had stated. Further, Justice Bhattacharya had noted with anguish that while the Acting Chief Justice is the master of the roster, he is not the master of “all I survey” and the power could not be exercised at his whims and fancies.

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