Supreme Court judge Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah on Friday recused himself from hearing a plea of a Bihar Judicial officer, who has challenged his suspension by the Patna High Court presumably over extra-quick delivery of justice in a sexual assault case of a minor girl.
At the outset of the hearing, a bench of Justices Krishna Murari and Amanullah told senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Shashi Kant Rai, the suspended additional district and sessions judge (AD&SJ) of Araria in Bihar, that one of the judges was part of the decision making process in the administrative side of the Patna High Court.
“Probably, I was also a party to the (HC) committee which took the decision,” Justice Amanullah, who has recently been elevated to the top court from the Patna High Court, said.
“List the matter before a bench to which one of us, Justice Amanullah, is not a party,” the order said while referring the case to Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud for setting up another bench in his administrative capacity.
During a brief hearing, Singh said a junior judicial officer to Rai has now been made the district judge (DJ) of Araria by the chief justice of the Patna High Court after the incumbent DJ retired on January 31 this year and this has done a grave injustice.
“Now we cannot hear it,” the bench said, adding that now the matter will come up for hearing next week.
Earlier, the top court had advised the Patna High Court to “drop” disciplinary proceedings against Rai.
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“Our sincere advice is, drop everything,” it had told the counsel appearing for the high court. “If you do not want to drop, we will go threadbare into it,” observed the bench, adding it sent a “bad message” to others.
Rai had said in his plea that he “reasonably” believed there was an “institutional bias” against him as he concluded the trial in a POCSO case involving the rape of a six-year-old girl in a single day.
In another case, he awarded capital punishment to an accused in four working days of trial, the plea said, adding, these verdicts were widely reported and appreciated by the government and public.
The plea has alleged that the “non-speaking” order of February 8, 2022 passed by the high court keeping the petitioner under suspension with immediate effect is “manifestly arbitrary and violates the principles of natural justice”.
“There is no reliance placed on any material while arriving at the said decision. The order merely states that disciplinary proceedings are pending against the petitioner and therefore, in exercise of the powers under Sub-rule (1) of Rule 6 of the Bihar Judicial Service (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules, 2020 places the petitioner under suspension,” it said.
The plea claimed the petitioner had only sought consideration for restoration of his seniority on the basis of a new evaluation system introduced by the high court, which first issued show cause notice and later suspended him without giving any reasons, merely for questioning the process of evaluation of judgements.
The petitioner had joined the Bihar Judicial Services in 2007.