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Dipak Misra J cryptically recuses self from hearing BCI age limit matter, possibly due to BCI counsel nexus

Since-deleted tweet giving a possible explanation for Justice Misra’s recusal in the BCI matter today
Since-deleted tweet giving a possible explanation for Justice Misra’s recusal in the BCI matter today

Supreme Court Justice Dipak Misra recused himself yesterday from hearing the writ petition by three petitioners, including by one Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) scholar who is an orphan, against the Bar Council of India (BCI) surprise resurrection of an age limit on studying law.

The registry will be appointing a new bench to hear the matter, with BCI counsel AK Prasad having asked for time for the BCI to file a response.

Senior counsel Kapil Sibal and advocate-on-record Zoheb Hossain appeared for the petitioners.

However, Misra’s recusal from hearing the matter was rather mysterious.

According to a Tweet by a lawyer, which has since been deleted (screenshot with Tweeter’s identity redacted), Misra had said “not before me” and had then recused himself, with apparent reference to the BCI’s standing counsel AK Prasad, who was appearing for the BCI respondent in the matter.

We could not confirm whether that was actually the reason for Misra’s recusal - in part because he gave no reason in open court - but a possible nexus between Misra and AK Prasad could be that the latter’s father, former Supreme Court Justice CK Prasad (who is currently the Press Council of India (PCI) chairman) was a colleague of Misra’s while on the bench of the Madhya Pradesh high court (Misra was posted as a judge in Madhya Pradesh from 1997 to 2009, while CK Prasad was there from 1994 to 2001).

That said, Misra did not appear to have a problem in 2015 to dismiss a petition by Prashant Bhushan against CK Prasad, which was seeking for an FIR to be registered against the ex-judge (which former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju (and coincidentally (?) CK Prasad’s predecessor on the PCI) had flagged as a bad decision, before Katju was more recently muzzled by contempt proceedings).

As such, Misra’s recusal in the BCI age limit matter is a little puzzling, unless he is now over-cautious regarding any matters relating to the Prasad family. Of course, if Misra had explained the reasons for his recusal in open court, things would have been a lot less mysterious.

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