Recuses himself from hearing the cases saying HC lawyer tried to talk to him

In a sudden development, Justice C.T. Ravikumar of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday recalled a judgment he had made ready for delivering on a batch of writ petitions filed by bar hoteliers challenging the government refusal to grant them licences and recused himself from hearing the cases.

The judge passed the recusal order on the ground that High Court lawyer K. Thovamony tried to talk to him about the cases in which he was about to sign and pronounce the judgment.

In a brief order, Justice C.T. Ravikumar said: “The petitioners were heard finally on 11-4-2014 and a common judgment in the cases is yet to be signed. However, on 21-4-2014, Adv. K. Thavamony came to my residence and attempted to speak about the issue touching the aforesaid cases. In the circumstances, the common judgment in the cases is recalled”.

While recusing himself from hearing the cases further, the judge made it clear that it would be open to the petitioners to move a vacation court.

The judge had heard arguments on as many as 54 petitions and reserved the judgment.

The petitioners had said that as their bar licences would expire on March 31, they had submitted applications before the Excise Commissioner for renewal of the licences for the year 2014-15 with all necessary documents. That apart, they had also submitted the pay order drawn in favour of the Excise Department. However, the applications had been returned by the Excise Department saying that it had not received any instruction from the government regarding renewal of the licences.

The government had put on hold the renewal applications in view of the Lok Sabha elections.

Advocate’s version

Advocate Thavamony said he did not appear in any of the cases. His visit to the judge’s house was a friendly one and there was no discussion regarding the present cases.

“I knew Justice Ravikumar when he was practising as an advocate in the High Court,” he said.

Mr. Thavamony said he referred to some abkari cases in which he had appeared years back in his talks with the judge. The judge might have misunderstood him when he used the words ‘abkari’ and ‘vakkalath’ in the conversation, he said.

More In: Kochi