Judicial Reforms

What is Recusal of Judges?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Recusal of Judges

Mains level : Judicial conduct and associated issues

A Justice of the Supreme Court has recused himself from hearing a petition that sought action against the Andhra Pradesh CM for levelling political allegations against an AP High Court judge.

Can you list down some basic principles of judicial conduct?

Independence, Impartiality, Integrity, Propriety, Competence and diligence and Equality are some of them as listed under the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct.

What is the Recusal of Judges?

  • Recusal is the removal of oneself as a judge or policymaker in a particular matter, especially because of a conflict of interest.
  • Recusal usually takes place when a judge has a conflict of interest or has a prior association with the parties in the case.
  • For example, if the case pertains to a company in which the judge holds stakes, the apprehension would seem reasonable.
  • Similarly, if the judge has, in the past, appeared for one of the parties involved in a case, the call for recusal may seem right.
  • A recusal inevitably leads to delay. The case goes back to the Chief Justice, who has to constitute a fresh Bench.

Rules on Recusals

  • There are no written rules on the recusal of judges from hearing cases listed before them in constitutional courts. It is left to the discretion of a judge.
  • The reasons for recusal are not disclosed in an order of the court. Some judges orally convey to the lawyers involved in the case their reasons for recusal, many do not. Some explain the reasons in their order.
  • The decision rests on the conscience of the judge. At times, parties involved raise apprehensions about a possible conflict of interest.

Issues with recusal

  • Recusal is also regarded as the abdication of duty. Maintaining institutional civilities are distinct from the fiercely independent role of the judge as an adjudicator.
  • In his separate opinion in the NJAC judgment in 2015, Justice Kurian Joseph highlighted the need for judges to give reasons for recusal as a measure to build transparency.
  • It is the constitutional duty, as reflected in one’s oath, to be transparent and accountable, and hence, a judge is required to indicate reasons for his recusal from a particular case, he ruled.
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