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Person on panel can express views, can’t be disqualified: CJI Bobde

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New Delhi, Jan 19, 2021-
Chief Justice S.A. Bobde on Tuesday orally observed that if a person on a panel has expressed views on the matter, it should not become ground for disqualification from a committee.

The observations assume significance after Bhupinder Singh Mann, the national president of Bharatiya Kisan Union, last week recused himself from the court-appointed four-member committee formed to hear grievances of farmers agitating against the farm laws.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice and comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran said “Just because a person has expressed a view on the matter, that is not a ground for disqualification to be a member of a committee.”

The observation was made during the hearing of a suo moto case on steps to expedite criminal trial. A senior advocate cited his opinion favouring virtual hearing instead of physical hearing. The lawyer proposed that he may be excluded from being an amicus curiae in the pleas supporting continuation of virtual hearing.

The Chief Justice said how can this be a disqualification.

“Generally, there is a peculiar lack of comprehension about constitution of a committee,” observed the Chief Justice.

The Chief Justice clarified that his remarks are a general observation and only in context of the matter at hand.

“We are talking of a general misunderstanding. Committee members are not judges. They can change their views,” Chief Justice observed orally.

The farmers unions have objected to the composition of the court-appointed committee saying its members have expressed their opinion in favour of the farm laws. Thousands of farmers are protesting against the three farm laws since November 26 at various Delhi borders. The farmer unions have also declined to appear before this committee.

On January 12, the top court stayed the implementation of the three Farm Laws until further orders and constituted a committee comprising Bhupinder Singh Mann, Pramod Kumar Joshi, Ashok Gulati, Anil Ghanwant.

Justifying the stay on implementation of farm laws, the top court had said: “We deem it fit to pass the following interim order, with the hope and expectation that both parties will take this in the right spirit and attempt to arrive at a fair, equitable and just solution to the problems.” (Agency)

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