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If a Judge Reflects a Predisposition So Strong that It Seems He Had Already Made up His Mind as to the Outcome of the Case, - Legal Reasoning

Question

MCQ

One of the reasons for recusal of a Judge is that litigants/the public might entertain a reasonable apprehension about his impartiality. As Lord Chief Justice Hewart said: "It is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done." And therefore, in order to uphold the credibility of the integrity institution, Judge recuses from hearing the case. A Judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court, while assuming Office, takes an oath as prescribed under Schedule III to the Constitution of India, that: "… I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my ability, knowledge and judgment perform the duties of my office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and that I will uphold the Constitution and the laws." Called upon to discharge the duties of the Office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, it is only desirable, if not proper, that a Judge, for any unavoidable reason like some pecuniary interest, affinity or adversity with the parties in the case, direct or indirect interest in the outcome of the litigation, family directly involved in litigation on the same issue elsewhere, the Judge being aware that he or someone in his immediate family has an interest, financial or otherwise that could have a substantial bearing as a consequence of the decision in the litigation, etc., to recuse himself from the adjudication of a particular matter. No doubt, these examples are not exhaustive. The simple question is, whether the adjudication by the Judge concerned, would cause reasonable doubt in the mind of a reasonably informed litigant and the fair-minded public as to his impartiality. Being an institution whose hallmark is transparency, it is only proper that the Judge discharging high and noble duties, at least broadly indicate the reasons for recusing from the case so that the litigants or the well-meaning public may not entertain any misunderstanding. Once the reasons for recusal are indicated, there will not be any room for attributing any motive for the recusal. To put it differently, it is part of his duty to be accountable to the Constitution by upholding it without fear or favour, affection or ill- will. Therefore, I am of the view that it is the constitutional duty, as reflected in one's oath, to be transparent and accountable, and hence, a Judge is required to indicate reasons for his recusal from a particular case.

If a judge reflects a predisposition so strong that it seems he had already made up his mind as to the outcome of the case, will it be according to judicial norms to ask for recusal by the litigants?

Options

  • No, any attribution of bias on the bench would amount to judicial impropriety.

  • Yes, judicial norms will be upheld if the litigant shows a strong predisposition in the mind of a judge as to the eventual outcome of the matter.

  • No, it will be a violation of constitutional norms wherein the bench and litigant have to operate at an arm's length distance.

  • Yes, if the outcome is in favor of the litigant.

Solution

Yes, judicial norms will be upheld if the litigant shows a strong predisposition in the mind of a judge as to the eventual outcome of the matter.

Explanation:

The guiding consideration is that the administration of justice should reasonably appear to be disinterested as well as be so in fact. Taking this into account option b is a suitable answer.

Concept: Indian Constitution (Entrance Exams)
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