Justice Mishra refuses to recuse from land acquisition case
Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra on Tuesday took exception to a social media campaign and articles seeking his recusal from a Constitution bench hearing a batch of pleas challenging the validity of provisions related to compensation in the Land Acquisition Act.
“I will be the first person to sacrifice if the integrity of the institution is at stake,’’ said Mishra, who is heading the five-judge bench, while referring to certain social media posts and articles.“I am not biased and do not get influenced by anything on earth. If I am satisfied that I am biased, then only I will recuse myself.”
He objected to the word “impartial” used repeatedly by the parties seeking his recusal. “This word hurts me. Do not use it as it will send the wrong message to the common man.”
Justice Mishra was a part of a bench that delivered a verdict in February last year saying that land acquisition by a government agency could not be quashed for the delay on the part of landowners in accepting compensation within five years due to reasons like lingering court cases.
In 2014, another verdict had held that land acquisition can be quashed on account of the delay in accepting the compensation.
On March 6 last year, the apex court said that a larger bench would test the correctness of the verdicts delivered by these two benches of similar strength on the same issue.
Earlier on Tuesday advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for some farmer associations and individuals, sought Mishra’s recusal saying that the five-member bench is examining the correctness of a verdict, which he also authored. “It was an over hundred-page judgement in which Justice Mishra has expressed his mind and said that other view taken by a bench of similar strength is per incuriam [bad in law],” Divan said. He added that a judge cannot sit in appeal of his own judgement.
Justice Mishra said that this issue is different. “It is not so simple. Letters are being written. Social media posts are there. Articles are being written in newspapers. You and I know what is the issue. I can tell you but not in open court,’’ he said. “Entire institution and the Chief Justice of India is being maligned on social media. If anyone can be maligned like this, then how will the court decide the issue. Then all of us are disqualified not only Justice Arun Mishra is disqualified.”
He said that the Constitution bench is sitting to interpret the provision of law and not to see the correctness of earlier verdicts and asked the parties to explain to him as to why he should recuse himself.
(WITH PTI INPUTS)
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