HC judge recuses from hearing Delhi riots accused's plea

One-liner: Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani of the Delhi HC has recused himself from hearing a petition filed by a northeast Delhi riots accused, Asif Iqbal Tanha, against the alleged leak of his disclosure statement.

Larger conspiracy: This is a case pertaining to the larger conspiracy behind the communal violence that took place in Delhi in 2020, saying a court’s act should never have a deleterious impact on the justice system’s credibility.

Reservations on hearing matter: Justice Bhambhani had earlier expressed his reservations about hearing the matter after the News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA), with whom he had had a past association, filed an intervention application in the case.

System's credibility: He said the court’s view must yield in favour of preserving the system’s credibility, which is derived not just from fairness in fact, but also from fairness in perception. "In the larger interest of the overall credibility of the justice system, this court is persuaded to recuse from the matter," the judge opined.

  • Tanha moved the HC in 2020 against certain media houses disseminating his alleged admission of his guilt before cognisance was taken by the trial court

Intervention objected: He had objected to intervention by NBDA in the matter on the ground that the association, which was not interested in the issue of the broadcast of the disclosure statement when a complaint was made to it, had now filed the intervention application in order to ensure that the eventuality of the judge’s recusal must come true.

Principle of fairness: The court, in its order, however, stated that even taking a decision on the issue of the association’s intervention plea must follow the overarching principle of fairness.

To assist the court: The NBDA had sought to intervene on the ground that the petition concerned prayers for registration of FIRs against journalists, which would have ramifications, and being a well-recognised body, it thus wanted to assist the court in the matter.

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