Two judges of the Madras High Court Bench here on Wednesday recused themselves from hearing a criminal appeal filed by four life convicts in a murder case.

The case related to a factional dispute in the Nadar Mahajana Sangam between two groups, one led by its general secretary G. Karikolraj and the other owing allegiance to Arivananda Pandian.

When the matter came up for hearing before a Division Bench, comprising Justices N. Paul Vasanthakumar and R. Subbiah, the senior judge said that he had received an anonymous letter levelling baseless allegations. The Bench directed the registry to place the matter before some other Division Bench.

The half-page letter typed in Tamil and mailed from Tallakulam Head Post Office on December 31 stated that the criminal appeal, originally filed in the Principal Seat of the High Court in Chennai in 2002 and transferred to the Madurai Bench after its inauguration in 2004, had been posted for hearing before various Division Benches.

The author of the letter claimed that he chose to take a series of adjournments, through his counsel, to avoid all those judges. Now, “my lawyer has assured me that you are a very straight forward judge and cannot be influenced by anyone… I have full faith in you and hope you will render fair and impartial justice in my case.”

Disapproving of the practice of writing to judges, Mr. Justice Vasanthakumar said “only foreign judges may have to be engaged to hear such cases.”

The practice was more in the Madurai Bench compared to the Principal Seat in Chennai.

“This is not the only case; we have thousands of cases to dispose of,” he told petitioner's counsel.