Justice Arun Misha retires from Supreme Court today: A look at cases and judgements

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Updated: Sep 02, 2020 3:25 PM

Supreme Court Justice Arun Misha retires from the service on Wednesday.

Justice Arun Misha (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Supreme Court Justice Arun Misha retires from service on Wednesday. He demits the office as the second senior-most judge after Justice NV Ramana, who is set to be Chief Justice of India. Justice Mishra took over as a Supreme Court judge in July 2014. He had previously served in Madhya Pradesh and as Chief Justice in Rajasthan and Calcutta.

In his six-year stint at the apex court, Justice Mishra worked under seven Chief Justices of India. Justice Mishra was involved in a number of high-profile and politically sensitive cases.

The cases include the Sahara-Birla diaries to the Haren Pandya murder; the medical college bribery case; mess in the CBI; anticipatory bail pleas of activists in the Bhima Koregaon case; and the land acquisition.

In January 2017, a bench of Justices Amitava Roy and Mishra dismissed NGO Common Cause plea for a probe into the Sahara-Birla diaries.

In January 2018, four judges addressed the media wherein they aired concerns on the allocation of important cases by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra to ‘junior judges’. Although they didn’t take any names directly, the judges held the press conference on a day when Justice Arun Mishra was supposed to be heading a bench hearing the Judge Loya case. Justice Mishra then removed himself from the case.

According to a report in The Indian Express, there were differences over the allocation of a case related to 2013 Land Acquisition Act to a bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra. Two of the judges who held the press conference — Justices Joseph and Lokur, were part of a three-judge bench ruling that came in 2014. The court had ruled that merely depositing the compensation in the Treasury cannot be treated as compensation paid to the land owner and the acquisition could be cancelled on this ground.

In February 2018, a bench of Justices Mishra and two others took a different stand and held in a 2:1 ruling that compensation not availed of within a stipulated five-year period could not be ground for cancellation of land acquisition. The matter was then referred to a Constitution bench headed by Justice Mishra himself. Though some parties demanded he recuse, Justice Mishra refused, the IE report said.

In December 2017, a bench headed by Justice Mishra had dismissed a plea that sought probe into the medical college bribery case. The matter had triggered a heated debate over the power of the CJI to allocate cases as ‘master of the roster’.

Justice Mishra was also part of the bench constituted when allegations of sexual misconduct were raised against former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. Later, another bench pointed to a conspiracy to malign the former CJI.

In 2019, when a tussle within the CBI and the government’s decision to appoint IPS Officer M Nageswara Rao as interim director, it was Justice Arun Mishra led bench that heard the matter.

In July 2019, Justice Mishra led bench restored the conviction and sentence imposed on nine of the 12 accused in the politically sensitive March 2003 murder case of former Gujarat Home minister Haren Pandya.

In November 2019, Justice Mishra headed a bench that called for time bound action to deal with smog in the National Capital Region.

Just before his retirement, Justice Mishra heard the criminal contempt case against advocate Prashant Bhushan. The bench convicted Bhushan for two controversial tweets against the judiciary. After Bhushan refused to apologise, Justice Mishra remarked that judges, when attacked, cannot run to the media to defend themselves and can only speak through their judgements.

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