Calcutta HC Judge Recuses From Case On Ground Of Being Facebook Friend With Lawyer [Read Order]

Calcutta HC Judge Recuses From Case On Ground Of Being Facebook Friend With Lawyer [Read Order]

Judiciary

Justice Protik Prakash Banerjee on September 11, 2019, in the case of Kanishk Sinha v. Union of India & Ors., has recused himself from the case after the petitioner urged that if a Judge has a friend on Facebook who is a member of the Bar that is a reason for him to rescue from the case.

If that is the view of the petitioner it will not be proper for me to take up this matter and release this matter on personal ground,” Justice Banerjee stated in the order.

While this was the case in India, in the US, the position is quite different. In November 2018, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that judges would not be disqualified from hearing a case on the ground that they were Facebook friends with the counsel involved.

In this regard, the majority opinion written by Chief Justice Charles T Candy reasons as follows: “… the mere fact that a Facebook “friendship” exists provides no significant information about the nature of any relationship between the Facebook “friends.” Therefore, the mere existence of a Facebook “friendship” between a judge and an attorney appearing before the judge, without more, does not reasonably convey to others the impression of an inherently close or intimate relationship. No reasonably prudent person would fear that she could not receive a fair and impartial trial based solely on the fact that a judge and an attorney appearing before the judge are Facebook “friends” with a relationship of an indeterminate nature…”

However, in the case, a note of caution was issued by Justice Jorge Labarge: I write to strongly urge judges not to participate in Facebook. For newly elected or appointed judges who have existing Facebook accounts, I encourage deactivation of those accountsparticipation in Facebook by members of the judiciary “is fraught with risk that could undermine confidence in the judge’s ability to be a neutral arbiter.””

[Read Order]

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