New Delhi: Expressing resentment over a social media campaign for his exit from the Constitution bench which examines issues related to the Land Acquisition Act, Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra on Tuesday said posts and articles were not just against a particular judge but an attempt to malign the institution.
“I am not biased… If I am satisfied that I am biased, then I can recuse myself from hearing this case. I will be the first person to sacrifice if the integrity of the institution is at stake,” Justice Mishra, who is heading a five-judge bench, said.
Mishra said that it is not the appeal against the verdict in which he was the party, and if persuaded, he may change or correct his view.
The development came after some petitioners, including a farmers’ association, asked Justice Mishra to exit from the top court bench on grounds of judicial propriety. The bench comprises Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Sharan, MR Shah and S Ravindra Bhat.
The issue on Tuesday came up while the apex court was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the validity of provisions related to compensation in the Land Acquisition Act.
During the hearing, senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing some farmer associations and individuals, raised objection over Justice Mishra hearing the matter, and said he should exit from the top court bench. The advocate also urged the court that the bench should to look into the verdict which Mishra has authored.
The advocate further stated that Mishra had expressed his opinion in an over 100-page judgement and opined another view taken by another bench is bad in law. “Hence, he cannot sit over appeal of his past verdict,” he said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre said: “The prayer is not for undermining a single judge but the entire Constitution bench. The publication articles or content on social media, there is a pattern wherein two days before important matters these things appear. It intended to influence the hearing. Nobody takes social media seriously but this pattern is serious”.
Justice Mishra was part of the top court bench that delivered a verdict in February last year stating that the acquisition of the land by a government agency cannot be overturned, if there was delay by landowners who fail to accept compensation within five years, citing pending court cases. In 2014, another verdict had ruled the land acquisition can be overturned if there is a delay in accepting the compensation awarded against the acquisition. In March 2018, the top court had said a larger bench would look into the verdicts.
(With inputs from IANS)