Recusal of Judges

Recusal of Judges


GS PAPER-2, Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.



Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana has recused himself recently from hearing a petition which was filed by the Andhra Pradesh government against the Telangana government for depriving its citizens of their legitimate share of water for drinking and irrigation purposes.

The reason behind the move:

The Chief Justice stated that he recused himself from hearing because he hailed from both the states i.e Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.


State of Andhra Pradesh has accused the state of Telangana for refusing to follow the decisions taken on the issue of  river water management in the Apex Council constituted under The Andhra Pradesh Re- organisation Act of, 2014. The former state is arguing that its neighbour has ignored the directions of Krishna River Management Board which is constituted under the 2014 Act and on the directions of the Central government.

 What is Judicial Disqualification or Recusal?

Judicial Recusal can be defined as the act of abstaining from participation or maintaining neutrality in an official work such as a legal proceeding etc due to a conflict of interest and activity of the presiding court official,  administrative officer, and judicial magistrate.

 Grounds for Recusal of Judges:

  1. If the judge is biased in favor of one party, or against another, or that a reasonable objective observer would have a thought that he might be.

  2. Interest in the concerned issue, or relationship with another person who is interested in it.

  3. Concerned jurist has a background or experience, such as the judge’s earlier work as a lawyer.

  4. Jurist has personal knowledge about the parties or the facts of the particular case.

  5. If the judge has a Ex parte communications with lawyers or non-lawyers.

Are there any laws in this regard

There are no defined  rules given on recusals by the Judges any time:

  • However, In taking oath of their  office, judges, both of the Apex Court and of the high courts, have to promise to perform their duties, to deliver justice, “without fear or favour, affection or ill-will” to the citizens of India. 

What has the Supreme Court say on this?

According to the opinion of Justice J. Chelameswar, Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015) stated that “Where a judge has a pecuniary or vested interest, no further inquiry and observation as to whether there was a ‘real threat’ or reasonable suspicion of bias essential to be undertaken”.

 Concerns/issues associated with recusal:

  1. It permits litigants to cherry-pick judges of their choice, which impairs judicial fairness and righteousness.

  2. It can undermine both independence and fairness and enhance the questions on impartiality of the judicial magistrate.

  3. There are no rules and obligations to determine when the judges or judicial magistrate could recuse it. There are only different interpretations of the same issues.

  4. Recusal may affect and obstruct and delay the proceedings of the Courts.

Download Plutus IAS Daily Current Affairs of 5th August 2021

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