Row on ‘judicial discipline’ takes a sharper turn in SC

The knotty issue of ‘legal teach and appropriateness’ in conflicting judgments ashore obtaining being hurled between two three-judge seats of the Supreme Court got additionally confused on Thursday with two-judge seats alluding the issue to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra for determination by a bigger seat.

On Wednesday, a three-judge seat headed by Justice Madan B Lokur had disliked to a three-judge seat headed by Justice Arun Mishra on February 8 overruling a 2014 decision given by another three-judge seat in the ‘Pune Municipal Corporation’ case, naming the prior judgment “according to incurium”. Both the cases concerned land obtaining.

After being educated by senior supporter Mukul Rohatgi regarding the February 8 decision, the seat drove by Justice Lokur and involving Justices Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta saw it as rupture of “legal teach and respectability”.

Judges Lokur and Joseph, two of the four seniormost judges of the SC, were co-creators of the ‘Pune Municipal Corporation’ decision.

In a between time arrange, the Justice Lokur-headed seat asked for other SC seats and high courts not to take up issues identified with arriving procurement managed in the two opposing judgments. It said it would choose the future strategy — whether to allude the issue to a bigger seat.

On Thursday, a land procurement case was recorded before a seat of Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy and the three-judge seat’s break arrange was conveyed to its notice.

While expressing that Wednesday’s between time arrange was a “kind of good order” on them, Justice Mishra, who headed the three-judge seat that overruled the 2014 judgment, tended to the issue frontally and decisively. “We had taken an unequivocal view that the 2014 judgment was ‘per incurium’ and it was passable in law to take that view. We had contemplated (while composing the February 8 judgment) over the issue — whether the issue required to allude to a bigger seat given the three-judge seat’s 2014 judgment and afterward took a cognizant choice (to term it ‘per incurium’ and overrule it). Regardless of whether it adds up to legal teach, or not, is for the bigger seat to choose,” he said.

Judges Mishra and Roy alluded the issue to the CJI for arbitration by a bigger seat, which most likely will be a five-judge seat. By this request, the Justice Mishra-drove seat pre-empted the three-judge seat headed by Justice Lokur from passing request for referral to a bigger seat.

Equity Mishra stated, “We have taken a considered view (in the February 8 judgment). It is more than 200 pages. Most likely, nobody has perused it however it (the judgment) has been focused on. To begin with reading and after that breakdown. ‘Legal teach’ has turned into an enchantment word to target us.”

In another twist to fast-paced events in the SC, another two-judge bench of Justices Adarsh Goel and U U Lalit too rescheduled a land acquisition case on Thursday when it was informed by Rohatgi about Wednesday’s interim order by Justice Lokur’s bench.

 The bench ordered, “We are of the view that having with regard to the nature of the issues involved in the matter, the issues need to be resolved by a larger bench at the earliest. These matters may be placed before the appropriate bench on February 23 as per orders of the CJI.”
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