Bombay HC Chief Justice Datta recuses from hearing CBI director case

An outer view of Bombay High Court in Mumbai.

An outer view of Bombay High Court in Mumbai. | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

A Bombay High Court bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta, on Thursday, July 28, 2022 recused from hearing a petition challenging the appointment of Subodh Jaiswal as the Central Bureau of Investigation director, following a letter of complaint against CJ Datta.

Former Maharashtra Assistant Commissioner of Police Rajendra Trivedi had filed the PIL, challenging Mr. Jaiswal's appointment.

CJ Datta said it had come to his notice that on March 22 this year, Mr. Trivedi wrote a letter to Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, "complaining" against him.

Mr. Jaiswal, who had earlier held the post of Maharashtra's Director General of Police (DGP), was appointed as the CBI director, in May, last year.

Mr. Trivedi had, on November 11, 2021, filed the plea through advocate S B Talekar against Mr. Jaiswal's appointment.

A bench led by CJ Datta was hearing it since then. The bench had also passed several directions on the plea, including asking for affidavits from the Union government and Mr. Jaiswal.

Earlier this month, Mr. Jaiswal filed an affidavit before the bench saying Mr. Trivedi's PIL had been filed out of "personal vendetta." The Union government on Wednesday, submitted an affidavit saying Mr. Jaiswal had been appointed the CBI director following due process, and he had adequate requisite qualifications for the appointment.

On Thursday, Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju appeared along with ASG Anil Singh on behalf of the Union government.

They mentioned the matter for urgent hearing, and sought that a specific date be fixed for next hearing.

CJ Datta then said it will not be proper for him to hear the matter.

"It won't be proper for us to hear this matter because a complaint has been against this court," CJ Datta said.

"Mr. Talekar, you might not be knowing this but your client, the petitioner, wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India complaining against me," he said.

Mr. Talekar said he did not know of the letter and that his client was claiming he had not written it.

“Confidence in the bench”

Both Mr. Raju and Mr. Singh urged the bench to continue hearing the matter, saying on behalf of the Union of India that they had "full confidence in the bench." "It has nowadays become a trend for people to make random allegations if they want their matter to be heard by a different bench. If a court recuses, they feel they are successful," ASG Singh said.

Mr. Talekar also said his client was "very happy" with the way the hearing was going on, and urged the bench to not recuse itself from hearing the plea.

However, CJ Datta said even if he were to continue the hearing and in case he passed an adverse order, the petitioner might not be satisfied with the hearing.

"It is very easy to write a letter and tarnish someone's image. It will be appropriate if this matter is heard by some other bench. Justice must be seen to have been done," CJ Datta said.

“It won’t be proper for us to hear this matter because a complaint has been against this court”Dipankar DattaChief Justice, Bombay High Court

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2022 10:10:36 am |