HC rejects Bidari's IA, refers it back to the same bench

HC rejects Bidari's IA, refers it back to the same bench

Karnataka High Court today rejected the interlocutory application filed by former state DGP Shankar Mahadev Bidari praying that his plea seeking reinstatement, be referred to a different bench.

Rejecting the application, a Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen referred it back to the same bench which had heard the matter earlier.

On May 17,a Division bench, comprising Justice N Kumar and Justice H S Kempanna, referred the matter to be placed before the Chief Justice.

Asked whether bench headed by Justice N Kumar had recused themselves from hearing the matter, senior counsel S N Chandrashekhar representing Bidari said they had not done so and only referred the matter to be placed before the Chief Justice for appropriate orders.

"If they recuse themselves, then it is an administrative action. It can be referred to a different bench, it is not a problem. If they don't, we are not an appellate court....if a CJ has to take back a case every time a bench is not willing to hear it, it is doomsday", the bench headed by the Chief Justice said.

"In these circumstances, we think it proper to post the writ petition and all pending portions before the same bench for taking a decision as to whether the lordships comprising that bench would think it appropriate to recuse themeselves from the matter", the bench observed.

The bench sought to know from counsel whether filing an Interlocutory Application will not amount to "bench hunting."

"If there is going to be bench hunting, I will not do it.... go back to the bench", the Chief Justice said.

"In what capacity do you expect the Chief Justice to move one case from one bench to another bench. We are not an appellate court", the bench said.

Senior counsel submitted that he was not indulging in bench hunting and that he was not given an opportunity to make submissions on his IA.

When the bench sought know as to why he did not want that bench to hear it, Chandrashekhar said he filed the IA as there was a "reasonable apprehension of bias. It is very difficult to erase the opinion formed in their mind".

On April 24, the Supreme Court stayed the High Court order which had quashed Bidari's as DGP and directed the High Court to place the matter before the same bench to examine afresh the matter and dispose it of before May 31.

The Chief Justice said "it is an ill-conceived notion that the bench will implacably hold on the earlier opinion".

Post lunch when the IA came up for hearing before the division bench, Justice N Kumar sought to know from Chandrashekhar whether he was ready to file objections to the contempt application filed by present DGP A R Infant subsequent to the IA filed by his client on May 17.

When Chandrashekahr said he would file the objections, the bench adjourned the matter to tomorrow.

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