The Constitution Bench hearing the interpretation of a provision of the Land Acquisition Act on Wednesday said Justice Arun Mishra will not recuse himself from hearing the matter. His recusal was sought by some land associations on the grounds that Mishra heads a Bench meant to re-examine a judgment that he had himself given in 2018.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Mishra pronounced the order and said, “I am not recusing from hearing this matter”. The bench will hear arguments on the case from 2 pm today.
Mishra heads the bench that has been set up to examine the correctness of two conflicting decisions of the Supreme Court regarding the interpretation of Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (also Land Acquisition Act, 2013).
One of these two decisions had come from a three-judge bench headed by Justice Mishra and also comprising Justices A K Goel (since retired) and Mohan M Shantanagoudar. The other ruling had come from another three-judge bench of Chief Justice of India R M Lodha and Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph (who have all retired since).
Asking if the demands for his recusal amounted to maligning the court, Justice Mishra had earlier said, “my conscience is clear, my integrity is clear before God, I will not budge.”
Justice Mishra had said: “Is this not maligning the court? If you had left it to me, I would have decided… But you are taking to the social media to malign me… and the Chief Justice of India?… Can this be the atmosphere of the court? It can’t be like this… Tell me one judge who has not taken a view on this. Will that mean all of us are disqualified?… This matter should not have been listed before me. But now it is before me, so the question of my integrity has arisen.”
“I may be criticised for my view, I may not be a hero and I may be a blemished person but if I am satisfied that my conscience is clear, my integrity is clear before God, I will not budge. If I think I will be influenced by any extraneous factor, I will be the first to recuse here,” he had said.
The other members of the Constitution bench include Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah and S Ravindra Bhat.