Sikkim High Court: The Bench of Vijai Kumar Bist, CJ, disposed of a transfer petition in which the District Judge, Special Division- I, Sikkim wanted to recuse himself from a case as his father had appeared in respect of the same subject-matter.

District Judge had passed an order while referring the matter to High Court on being informed that his father had appeared for the same subject matter involved in the appeal for the State-respondent in the said case.

The High Court on considering the facts and circumstances of the case, referred to the decisions of Supreme Court in Supreme Court Advocates-On-Record Assn. v. Union of India, (2016) 5 SCC 808,

“A Judge can recuse a matter, if a Judge has a financial interest in the outcome of a case. In such cases, he is automatically disqualified from hearing the case. In cases where the interest of the Judge is other than financial, then the disqualification is not automatic but an enquiry is required where the existence of such an interest disqualifies the Judge tested in the light of either on the principle of “real danger” or “reasonable apprehension”.

Another decision of the Apex Court relied on by the Court was, Trishala v. M.V. Sundar Raj, (2010) 15 SCC 714, in this case, the Supreme Court held that, it cannot be said simply because the learned Judge whilst at the Bar was a Standing Counsel for Municipal Corporation, he is precluded either in law or on propriety from hearing any case in which a Corporator is a party in his personal capacity.

Therefore, the Court while concluding its decision, stated that the ground mentioned of District Judge’s father appearing for the same subject matter earlier was no ground for recusal from the case as, the District Judge was at no point involved in any manner with the case, he was not appearing for any of the parties.

Father of District Judge appeared in his private capacity and District Judge had nothing to do with the said case.

When can a Judge recuse?

  • A Judge can recuse when he or his family member’s interest is involved in the case.
  • He can recuse when his close relative is a party in the
  • If one of the parties is known to him and is closely associated with him.
  • He can also recuse if he had earlier appeared as an Advocate for one of the parties.
  • If earlier any legal opinion was given by a Judge in the matter or has financial interest in the litigation, he can recuse.

In view of the above, application sent by District Judge, Special Division-I, Sikkim was rejected and transfer petition was disposed of. [Mahesh Chettri v. State of Sikkim, 2019 SCC OnLine Sikk 15, Order dated 23-03-2019]

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