High Court judge recuses from hearing petitions filed by Nice

Justice H Billappa on Wednesday recused from hearing the petitions filed by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (Nice) and its associate firms seeking to quash the Lokayukta court order in social activist T J Abraham’s private complaint alleging irregularities in Bangalore-Mysore Express Highway Project.

The judge felt that the case should be heard by another Bench and decided to place the matter before the Chief Justice, after Abraham filed a memo stating that the matter should not be heard by Justice Billappa.

Abraham in his memo filed on March 25 refused to argue the case before the judge stating that he was “not receptive” to his arguments and therefore neither he nor his counsel would place their arguments before the Bench.

However, senior counsel C V Nagesh appearing for Nice and its associate firm NECE (Nandi Economic Corridor Enterprise) filed their objections to the memo along with a contempt application seeking to initiate contempt proceedings against Abraham for bench hunting and showing disrespect to the court.

When Abraham, who was present in Court, attempted to tender his apology after the judge pronounced his decision to place the matter before the Chief Justice, Justice Billappa stated a judge's conduct should be clear after such an accusation and he would reply to all the questions at an appropriate time.

Memo

On Jan 29, the Dharwad Circuit Bench of Karnataka High Court extended its stay on the Lokayukta court order in the complaint till the final disposal of the case. In his memo, Abraham has said that the Supreme Court has time and again held that whenever a special judge directs investigation in terms of Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, he is said to have not taken cognisance of any offence. Accordingly, what was done by the special judge in this case was to merely direct investigation and as the same would not amount to taking of cognisance, there was simply no question of seeking any sanctions from any authority.

No immunity

Stating that the accused do not enjoy any immunity under Article 20(3) of the Constitution and they have nowhere denied the commission of any of the alleged offences, Abraham in his memo said that the accused are not entitled for any relief as they have furnished grossly defective affidavits in support of their case.

“It would be legally absurd to hold that sanction is required even for the purpose of investigation and that there is no such concept as to sanction for bare investigation anywhere under the Indian Law,” he said.

Pointing out that the order dated January 29, 2013 wholly omits to record the principal submissions of his counsel  K V Dhananjay to the Court, Abraham said that the omission to note the arguments had truly led to a gross failure of justice.

“It is entirely possible that this Court considered the aforesaid arguments to be wholly without any merit. However, as these proceedings were held in open Court and not in chambers there is a duty upon every Court under like circumstances to record the principal arguments made by counsel before it. In this context, I am deeply compelled to submit that I cannot retain any further faith that any argument by us will be of any help in adjudicating upon the aforesaid cases,” Abraham said in his memo.

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