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The Constitution Bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M. R. Shah and Ravindra Bhatt heard Senior Advocate Shyam Diwan, assisted by Senior Advocates Gopal Shankarnarayanan and Rakesh Dwivedi, who persisted for the second day regarding his request for recusal of Justice Arun Mishra from the constitution bench that has been formed to hear the matters regarding Section 24 of the Land Acquisition Act. Senior Advocate Diwan had raised an apprehension for biasness against the judge in view of his February, 2018 judgment in the Indore Development Authority matter.

Senior Advocate Mr. Diwan submitted that, “There is no intent of any bench hunting but we are worried about an apprehension of bias.” He also indicated that how UN agrees that the independence of the tribunal is indispensable and the adjudicator must be fair.

Senior Advocate Diwan also read the guidelines which have been laid down on fair trial by the African Union and European Court for Human Rights. He also submitted before the court that “when one holds a prima facie opinion on a topic, it is not pre-disposition. But where a judge has tendered a final judgment on the subject, it is pre-disposition.”

Justice Arun Mishra refused to budge and stated that “you want a bench of your choice, your formulations, those who may favor you. This will destroy the independence of judiciary. This is bench hunting, nothing less. This is taming the judiciary.”

When Senior Advocate Mr. Diwan concluded his arguments, Justice Arun Mishra remarked, “You have argued boldly and for that we have respect for you. But why are you fearing making submissions on merit now?”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta countered and made a submission stating that prejudged bias should be demonstrated to make out a case for recusal. He was being assisted by Senior Advocate Mohan Parasaran and ASG Pinky Anand.

The order has been reserved by the constitution bench for 23rd October.

— India Legal Bureau

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