Even if the judge’s wife is distantly related to one of the petitioners, this in no way suggests that the judge is biased, is upheld by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh through the learned Judge JUSTICE ANOOP CHITKARA, in the case of Rajeev Bhardwaj v. State of H.P. & Others (CMP No.877 of 2021 in LPA No. 33 of 2019).
Brief facts of the case:
The private respondents filed this motion for instructions about the judgment rendered by Justice Sureshwar Thakur, who delivered a dissenting opinion in a Letters Patent Appeals and ruled in favor of the petitioners.
In the interest of justice and Fairplay, it was requested that the LPA 33 and 39 of 2019 be remanded to the Honorable Chief Justice for the creation of a Division Bench to rehear the LPA.
It was contended that the applicant’s accusations prove prejudice, and hence the application should be accepted.
It was also contended that the petitioners have a legitimate fear of bias, which falls under the law of prejudice, and that these concerns should be brought to the attention of the Honorable Mr. Justice Sureshwar Thakur so that he can comment on the accuracy of the facts.
It was argued that if Justice Sureshwar Thakur denies the relationship, this motion would be dismissed on the sole basis of denial, but if he acknowledges the relationship, he should remove the ruling that he authored.
Lastly, it was noted that the presence of the relationship itself indicates bias, and anytime such knowledge comes to light, regardless of when it was acquired, the relevant judge must rescind the decision in issue.
Initially, the Court observed that the application omitted the name and other identifying information of the person from whom the deponent had obtained the information, and therefore, the Court observed that in the absence of such material information, the applicants fail to make a prima facie case worthy of issuing notices. Significantly, the Court also stated that in the rapidly changing present, there is no assumption that relatives have excellent connections, and that the frequency of meetings with relatives is increasingly decreasing due to the hard nature of occupations and urban living weariness.
In addition, the Court stated that its conscience is pricked by the complete lack of information on the circumstances under which one or more of the respondents-applicants initiated the investigation or fishing inquiry to determine the nature of the relationship.
Noting that the claims made in the application are unsupported, vague, lack substantial details, and fail to demonstrate discrimination, prejudice, or even the possibility of bias, the court dismissed the application as meritless and without merit.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY – HARILAKSHMI