Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

SC junks PIL against plots to judges of HC

Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: February 22, 2014 3:26 am

The Supreme Court Friday refused to entertain a PIL seeking cancellation of allotment of plots to judges of high courts of Orissa and Gujarat under the state governments’ discretionary quota.

The court asked the petitioner to go to the respective high courts first, even as its counsel argued that a refusal by the SC could send a wrong message that even the apex court shied away from taking up contentious matters relating to the judges.

“We decline to entertain the writ petition. However, the petitioners are at liberty to approach the appropriate high courts, if they so deemed right,” a Bench of Justices H L Dattu and S A Bobde said.

It asked NGO ‘CPIL’ to approach the high courts for redressal of its grievances and come to the SC if the high courts failed to redress their grievances.

NGO’s counsel Prashant Bhushan opposed the court’s views, questioning if it will be possible for the judges of a high court to hear petitions against the fellow judges, who have applied for the plots.

“Only this court decide the matter. How can those hear and decide the matter whose colleagues are involved? The petitioner shall have reasonable apprehension of bias. Why to send the petitioner to the high court when there is already a strong case of reasonable apprehension,” said Bhushan.

He added that it was for the same reason, Justice A K Patnaik, before whom the matter was first listed first, recused from hearing the case.

“Justice Patnaik said although he had not applied for a plot or received it, he knew many judges of the Orissa High Court, where he was also a judge a few years ago,” said Bhushan. The Bench told the counsel that it was not so in all cases.

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