Rouse Avenue Courts Complex, Delhi: In a case filed by Enforcement Directorate (‘petitioner') seeking transfer of the case titled ‘Directorate of Enforcement v Satyender Kumar Jain in CC No. 23/2022', relating to interim bail application of Satyender Jain, Aam Aadmi Party Minister (‘respondent'), from the Court of Ms. Geetanjali Goel, Ld. Special Judge (PC Act) (MP/MLA) (CBI-24), Rouse Avenue Courts, New Delhi to any other court of competent jurisdiction, Vinay Kumar Gupta, J. allowed the transfer from the Court of Ms. Geetanjali Goel, Special Judge, CBI, RADC, New Delhi to the Court of Sh. Vikas Dhull, Special Judge, CBI, RADC, New Delhi.
The Court remarked that “the Judge is a very upright officer, however, all the circumstances taken together are sufficient to raise a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the petitioner as a common man, not of any actual bias but of a probable bias and as such the application is liable to be dismissed.”
The transfer was sought on the ground that inspite of the case been heard for several days on several issues and all those issues have been rebutted during oral arguments yet the Special Judge at present agreed with the contention submitted by the advocates of the Minister on a later date of hearing that many of the issues raised by them during their oral arguments have not been controverted.
The Court noted that it is not necessary that the apprehension should arise from a single circumstance as it may be a result of cumulative effect of various circumstances-past and present. The judicial process demands that a judge moves within the framework of relevant legal rules. And the question is not whether the judge is actually biased but whether the circumstances are such as to create a reasonable apprehension in the mind of others that there is likelihood of bias affecting the decision.
In State of Punjab v. Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, (2011) 14 SCC 770, the Supreme Court held that the test of real likelihood of bias is whether a reasonable person in possession of relevant information, would have thought that bias was likely and whether the adjudicator was likely to be disposed to decide the matter only in a particular way.
In Gurcharan Dass Chadha v. State of Rajasthan, (1966) 2 SCR 678, the Supreme Court held that “the law with regard to transfer of cases well settled. A case is transferred if there is a reasonable apprehension on the part of a party to a case that justice will not be done. A petitioner is not required to demonstrate that justice will inevitably fail. He is entitled to a transfer if he shows circumstances from which it can be informed that he entertains an apprehension and that it is reasonable in the circumstances alleged.”
On the contention by the petitioner that the interim bail was sought on medical grounds whose report was taken from LNJP Hospital which was under the administrative control of Satyender Jain (‘respondent') while he had portfolio and still enjoys considerable influence and thus no impartial medical investigation was possible to which the counsel for Jain submitted that he is now no more a Minister as he has no portfolio. The Court finally observed that Jain cannot be said that he is no longer a Minister because he still enjoys the status of a Minister in the Govt. of NCT of Delhi, maybe no portfolio has been assigned to him.
On the contention by the respondent that the petitioner has not raised the question of bias at any earlier stage and medical reports from the LNJP and jail/dispensary hospital, the Court stated that as per the office order from the jail dispensary first referral hospital was Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital for Central Jail Tihar, second referral hospitals are LNJP, Maulana Azad Hospital and Safdarjung Hospital and AIIMS is the third referral hospital on the referral of first and second referral hospitals respectively.
The Court further observed that the agreement by the Special Judge has triggered apprehension in the mind of the petitioner and all other things for which no specific objection of any kind of bias has been raised, have again stand revived.
Thus, the Court concluded by saying that a holistic picture is to be seen and cumulative effect of the facts and circumstances is to be considered as against any single fact/ circumstances and that being so it cannot be said that the petitioner is showing any hypersensitivity to the issue by seeking a transfer of the case.
[Directorate of Enforcement v. Satyender Jain, 2022 SCC OnLine Dis Crt (Del) 38, decided on 22-09-2022]
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.