Supreme Court judge Justice J S Khehar has recused himself from hearing the Sahara contempt case, prompting the Chief Justice of India R M Lodha to set up a new bench.
Justice Khehar has been part of a bench presided over by J S Radhakrishnan, which had on March 4 sent Sahara chief Subrata Roy and two other directors to jail for failing to pay back Rs 20,000 crore to investors of its two firms.
On May 6, the bench of Justices Radhakrishnan and Khehar has delivered its verdict on a writ petition filed by Roy challenging the order sending him to judicial custody. The bench, while dismissing the petition, had then refused to recuse from hearing the case, saying “Calculated psychological offensives and mind games adopted to seek recusal of judges, need to be strongly repulsed.”
Notably, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani had then suggested the bench to recuse from hearing the case “because his client had apprehensions of prejudice.” After delivering the verdict, Justice Khehar sent a communication to the CJI Lodha on May 7 informing his intention to withdraw from hearing the case. His fellow senior judge Justice Radhakrishnan retired on May 14.
Consequently, the CJI has constituted a fresh bench to hear pending contempt petitions as well as other application concerning the matter, an official source informed on Thursday. He, however, did not disclose the new combination of the bench.