Bombay High Court Judge Recuses From A Case After Receiving Letter Alleging Bias; Orders CBI Probe Against the Sender Of Letter

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While recusing from the case Justice Dangre clarified that she was recusing not because she was asked to but to avoid further accusations on her

Justice Bharathi Dangre of the Bombay High Court has recused herself from a case following the receipt of a letter alleging bias against one of the parties involved.

Additionally, while recusing Justice Dangre has ordered a Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) probe to identify the sender of the letter.

Justice Dangre's order stated that it is imperative to hold such disgruntled elements accountable for their actions, which disrupt the system and escape without consequences.

“It was open for me to recuse, without disclosing the reason, but it is high time that some accountability is attributed to the disgruntled elements, who continue to haunt the system by their unscrupulous acts and walk away, without waiting for consequences of their intimidating action, once the judge recuses from the matter and it is time to show that the system to continue it’s unflinching loyalty to ‘Justice’,” the order reads.

The order was passed during the proceedings of a criminal revision application in the high court.

Justice Dangre recused herself from the case and clarified that her decision to do so was not due to the letter but rather to prevent any additional accusations or perceived bias towards any party involved.

"The decision is ultimately left to me and since, I am bound by the oath of my offce and keep up the promise of dispensing fair and impartial justice, without fear and favour, affection or ill will; which are the enemies of an independent decision making process, I deem it appropriate to recuse myself not because I have been asked to decide one way, but because I feel it necessary to do so, to avoid further accusations of favour being shown or if I have to dispel the accusations, necessarily I may be compelled to decide the other way, which may even mean injustice to one of the party,” the order reads.

Justice Dangre asked Advocate Kuldeep Patil, representing the CBI, to provide a copy of the order to the CBI Mumbai Headquarters for their investigation into the letter that had been sent to her.

“The Registrar (Judicial I) shall make available the copy of the same alongwith the envelope to Mr.Kuldeep Patil, the learned counsel appearing for C.B.I., who shall bring it to the notice of Central Bureau of Investigation, Headquarter, Mumbai, with an expectation that it shall take cognizance of this judicial impropriety, by conducting necessary inquiry into the same, as the sender has disclosed his name and address on the envelope, as well as in the communication,” the order states.

Justice Dangre in its order noted that, “Recusal defnitely cannot be used as a tool to manoeuvre justice, as a means of Bench hunting or Forum shopping, or as an instrument to evade judicial work. It is not for the frst time that communications casting aspersions are addressed to the dispensors of justice, some times with a specifc intent of picking Benches of the party’s choice and at times, as a mode of browbeating the system,” the order reads.

Senior Advocate Aabad Ponda, representing the revision applicant, urged the court to initiate contempt proceedings, asserting that the accusations amounted to interference in the administration of justice.

However, Justice Dangre deferred any action on this matter until the CBI report was presented to her.

Case title: Suresh Kevalram Khemani & Ors. vs Central Bureau of Investigation & Ors.