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Recusal by Judges

About Recusal by Judges India

  • Recusal by Judges in India if there is a conflict of interest, a judge can withdraw from hearing a case to prevent creating a perception that he/she carried a bias while deciding the case.
  • The Recusal by Judges Conflict of interest can be in many ways, from holding shares in a company that is a litigant to having a prior or personal association with a party involved in the case.
  • Supreme Court in Ranjit Thakur v Union of India (1987), held that a Judge shall not hear and decide a matter in a company in which he holds share, unless he has disclosed his interest and no objection to his hearing and deciding the matter is raised.
    • It states the 1999 charter ‘Restatement of Values in Judicial Life’, a code of ethics adopted by the Supreme Court.
  • Principle of Judges Recusal: Nobody can be a judge in her own case.
  • Reason for Recusal by Judges: Any interest or conflict of interest would be a ground to withdraw from a case since a judge has a duty to act fair.
    • An appeal may have been filed in the Supreme Court against a judgement of a High Court that may have been delivered by the SC judge when he/she was in the HC.

Read about: PESA Act

Recusal by Judges Petition

  • Petitions challenge Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Act 2021 which allows the extension of the term of the Director of the Enforcement of Directorate up to 5 years.
    • Government promulgated an ordinance last year under which the tenure of ED and CBI chiefs could be extended by up to three years after the mandated term of two years.
  • Union government gave a fresh one-year extension to Sanjay Kumar Mishra, the third for the Indian Revenue Service officer in the position.
  • Mishra, 62, was first appointed the director of the ED for two years on November 19, 2018.


Recusal by Judges Process in India

  • The decision to recuse generally comes from the judge themselves as it rests on the conscience and discretion of the judge to disclose any potential conflict of interest.
  • In some circumstances, lawyers or parties in the case bring it up before the judge. If a judge recuses, the case is listed before the Chief Justice for allotment to a fresh Bench.
    • Example: In the Ayodhya-Ramjanmabhoomi case, Justice U U Lalit recused himself from the Constitution Bench after parties brought to his attention that he had appeared as a lawyer in a criminal case relating to the case.
  • Rules: There are no formal rules governing
  • Judge Refusal to Recuse: In several cases, judges have refused to recuse themselves, despite request from parties.
    • In 2019, Justice Arun Mishra had controversially refused to recuse himself from a Constitution Bench set up to re-examine a judgement he had delivered previously, despite several requests from the parties.
  • Record Reasons for Recusal: Since there are no formal rules governing the process, it is often left to individual judges to record reasons for recusal.
    • In a landmark verdict in 2015 holding that the National Judicial Appointments Commission as unconstitutional, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Madan Lokur had referred to the need for judges to give reasons for recusal to build transparency and help frame rules to govern the process.


Recusal by Judges Concerns

  • Wrong message: Recusal from a case sends a wrong message about the independence of judiciary in making non-biased decisions.
  • Delay process: The whole judicial process will be delayed as the bench has to be reconstituted by the Chief Justice.
  • Cherry-picking bench: Parties to the case demanding recusal amounts to cherry-picking a judicial bench to hear the case.

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