Should Justice Arun Mishra recuse from a five-judge Supreme Court Bench formed to give an authoritative interpretation of a provision in the 2013 land acquisition law? There is quite a compelling case that he must. In the normal course, recusal could be a judge’s individual decision. In the course of the hearing, before orders were reserved on this question, he suggested that the demand for his withdrawal amounted to “bench-hunting” and an attempt to tame the judiciary. However, the case history shows that there could be grounds for apprehension that he has a predisposition towards a particular view that would affect his ability to render an impartial ruling in the current referral. Last year, in an unusual verdict, a Bench headed by Justice Mishra, with one judge dissenting, overruled a 2014 judgment by another three-judge Bench on the interpretation of Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. It was unusual because every Bench is bound by the precedent set by another Bench of the same size. And if a Bench differs with the ruling of a coordinate Bench, it ought to refer the matter to a larger one, instead… Read full this story
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