Land Acquisition cases: SC objects row against judge

Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court on Tuesday strongly objected to a social media campaign launched against Justice Arun Mishra to “malign” him and to seek his recusal from a five-judge bench, set up to decide the contentious issue of delay in compensation in land acquisition cases.

“If a judge is going to be maligned like this, then what is left of the Supreme Court,” Justice Mishra himself asked while presiding over the bench, comprising Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah, and S Ravindra Bhat.

“Every judge on the Constitution bench at one point or the other had decided on Section 24 of the Land Acquisition Act. So should they all recuse or is recusal only for Justice Arun Mishra,” he further asked.

Justices Shah and Bhat also joined him to point out there would often be situations where judge has taken a view in past, say as a High Court judge, but this should not be a ground to claim partiality.

A group of farmers association sought the recusal of Justice Mishra from the case because he was a part of three-judge bench which had passed a judgement on February 8, 2018 with regard to compensation in land acquisition cases, showing his “predisposition”. There were also tweets questioning the decision to nominate Justice Mishra to head the five-judge bench.

On Tuesday, the five-judge was hearing the reference in view of contradictory view taken in 2018 and 2014 judgements on the subject.

Background

On February 8, 2018, a majority judgment delivered by a three-judge bench in the 'Indore Development Authority' case had declared a previous 2014 verdict of another three-judge bench on the same subject as per incuriam (without care for law or facts). This contradiction was called it as “judicial indiscipline”.

The 2014 judgement in the 'Pune Municipal Corporation' case stated that the acquisition would lapse if the acquired land was not taken and the compensation was not paid, five years prior to coming into force of 2013 Act.

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