Now, SC judge recuses from hearing pleas in Narada case
Supreme Court judge justice Aniruddha Bose recused himself on Tuesday from hearing a case involving the West Bengal government, withdrawing from a matter on the appeals of chief minister Mamata Banerjee and the state’s law minister Moloy Ghatak linked to the Narada tapes case.
In less than a week, two Supreme Court judges hailing from Kolkata have now withdrawn themselves from two politically sensitive cases involving the state government. On June 18, justice Indira Banerjee expressed “personal difficulties” in taking up a clutch of petitions related to post-poll violence in the state. Judges are not obligated to give reasons while opting out of hearing cases.
On Tuesday, three petitions were listed for hearing before a bench of justices Hemant Gupta and Bose to consider appeals by Banerjee, Ghatak and the state against a Calcutta high court order of June 9. The HC refused to accept their affidavits in opposition to the Central Bureau of Investigation’s petition to transfer the Narada case.
The case pertains to a sting operation, allegedly showing Trinamool Congress leaders accepting bribes. The TMC leaders have denied the charges.
The batch of cases was called out in the apex court on Tuesday and Justice Gupta passed the order releasing it from the bench. The order said the matters needed to be listed before another bench, of which justice Bose is not a member. It also requested Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana to assign the cases to a different bench.
“These matters will be listed before some other bench. Justice Bose has some reservations in hearing them,” justice Gupta told solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who represented CBI.
Justice Bose, who did not specify the reason behind his recusal, completed his education in Kolkata before he began practising there as a lawyer in 1985 and was elevated as a judge to the Calcutta high court in 2004. He became a judge in the Supreme Court in May 2019.
In 2015, when a Constitution bench struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), one of the members of the bench, justice Kurian Joseph penned down a separate judgment to hold that judges must disclose reasons when they decide not to hear a case.
Another judge on the NJAC bench, justice Madan B Lokur also said that questions over recusal were quite significant and it was time that some procedural and substantive rules were framed in this regard.
Former CJI KG Balakrishnan said: “It is up to the judges to decide whether they want to give reasons for recusal or not. There may be some embarrassing situations or facts that they may not be interested in explaining... Somebody could have a personal relationship with a party or some judge could have appeared as lawyers for someone.”