The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday, March 08, 2021 dismissed a plea seeking a declaration that even if the wife of a Judge is distantly related to one of the petitioners, this nowhere implies that such Judge is prejudiced as a sitting Judge's dissenting view as Coram non-judice and non-est in the eyes of law.
The private respondents filed the aforementioned plea seeking directions qua the judgment passed by Justice Sureshwar Thakur, who pronounced a dissenting verdict in a Letters Patent Appeals, and decided in favor of the petitioners. It was prayed that the LPA 33 and 39 of 2019 be remitted to the Hon'ble Chief Justice for the constitution of a Division Bench for hearing the LPA afresh in the interest of “justice and fair play’”. It was argued that such allegations pointed out in the application establish bias and thus, the application deserved acceptance. Furthermore, it was contended that the applicants have a reasonable apprehension of bias, which attracts the doctrine of prejudice and that be brought to the notice of Hon'ble Mr. Justice Sureshwar Thakur to seek his response about the correctness of facts and that if Justice Sureshwar Thakur denies the relationship, then this application on the sole ground of denial would come to an end, however, if he accepts the relationship, he should withdraw the judgment authored by him. Lastly, it was stated that the existence of the relationship itself establishes bias and whenever such knowledge comes on record, irrespective of the time of acquiring this knowledge, the judgment, in question, has to be withdrawn by the concerned Judge.
At the outset, the Court while making its remarks noted that the application lacked mention of the name and other particulars of the person, from whom the deponent had received such information, and so, the Court observed that in the absence of such material information, the applicants fail to make a prima facie case worth issuing notices. Furthermore, the Court posed a question that if the applicants knew of the relationship before the hearing, then the only question to arise is: Were the applicants waiting for the verdict's outcome? Quoting "The only thing which is stated is that they came to know of such relationship only after the pronouncement of the verdict. They should have mentioned the reasons for fishing an inquiry, the time of information, the source, the motive behind furnishing information, if it was given without any efforts from the applicants' side, etc", the Court further noted that in the fast-changing present times, there is no presumption that relatives carry good relationships and that given the demanding nature of jobs and urban life fatigue, the frequency of interactions with relatives is gradually declining.
Lastly, noting that the allegations leveled in the application are unsubstantiated, general, withhold material particulars, and prima facie fail to show discrimination or bias or even likelihood of bias, the Court dismissed the application calling it baseless and without any merits.