Won’t recuse from hearing Ponmudy graft case: Madras High Court Judge
“The court observes that suo motu revisions have been looked upon in some quarters as a sort of witch hunt spearheaded by one judge.
CHENNAI: Justice N Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court on Thursday rejected the plea of Tamil Nadu government and Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy seeking his recusal from hearing a suo motu revision of a trial court’s order acquitting the minister in a graft case. “The revision reflects the voice of the institution, not that of an individual judge,” the court said.
“The court observes that suo motu revisions have been looked upon in some quarters as a sort of witch hunt spearheaded by one judge. It is, therefore, necessary to remind all concerned that these suo motu revisions have been exercised not by one judge but by the HC as an institution to ensure that the streams of criminal justice are not subverted and remain pure and unsullied,” the judge said. “Decision-making by the HC is an institutional action and not the action of any particular judge,” he added. The judge also rejected allegations of bias regarding his caustic remarks.
Notice was issued to hear accused in the case, says HC
The judge said the objection of bias can only be raised at the instance of a person who has suffered or is likely to suffer an adverse adjudication.
Even if the order of the special court is to be set aside, the direct beneficiary would be the state because it would achieve the same result that it may want through filing an appeal, he said.
He also said it is a ‘mystery’ as to why the mighty state is shooting a plea of bias aimed at him ‘from the shoulders of the accused’; and the plea of bias is ‘completely misconceived’.Referring to the argument that the suo motu revision has taken away the right of the state to go for an appeal, the judge said the revision would actually support the state and serve the same purpose.
Explaining the revisional powers of the HC, he noted that the court has not exercised any of the appellate powers enumerated under Section 401(1) of CrPC nor has it set aside the acquittal order of the special court in Vellore; and so, the plea alleging violation of sections 401 (2) of CrPC necessarily fails.
Regarding the argument that notice was not served on the parties to hear them before passing orders, Justice Anand Venkatesh explained that the court, on August 10, 2023, initiated suo motu proceedings and issued notice to the accused with the view to afford an opportunity to hear them.
He said there is no substance in the plea that this court is disqualified to hear the matter in view of the observations made by it.