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The Curious Case of Thomas Chandy's Lawyer Not Willing to Appear Before a Particular SC Bench

Making the unique request, Thomas Chandy said that his appeal against the Kerala High Court order had been settled by senior lawyer Vivek Tankha, who doesn't want to appear before Justice AM Sapre on account of certain personal reasons.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:December 15, 2017, 8:17 PM IST
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The Curious Case of Thomas Chandy's Lawyer Not Willing to Appear Before a Particular SC Bench
Thomas Chandy pressed for transfer of his case to some other bench so that he doesn't "lose the service of an able lawyer". (File photo)
New Delhi: Thomas Chandy, who had to resign as a Cabinet Minister in the Kerala government over a land encroachment case, has sought transfer of a case from a bench of the Supreme Court since his lawyer doesn’t want to appear before that bench.

Making the unique request, Chandy said that his appeal against the Kerala High Court order had been settled by senior lawyer Vivek Tankha, who doesn't want to appear before Justice AM Sapre on account of certain personal reasons.

Justice Sapre, along with Justice RK Agarwal, constituted the bench before which Chandy's case was originally listed as per SC roster.

But Chandy's lawyer moved a letter stating he would want this case to go to some other bench since Tankha won't show up to argue before Justice Sapre.

Chandy pressed for transfer of his case to some other bench so that he doesn't "lose the service of an able lawyer".

The letter added that it was being distributed before Justices Agarwal and Sapre at his "risk" to avoid inconvenience for the judges.

The letter made an unprecedented request since a litigant is not expected to choose the bench and the judges for his case.

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It can also not be an argument, under the SC Rules, that since a lawyer would not argue before a particular judge, the judges should be changed but not the lawyer.

Therefore, Chandy's request was one of its own sort, and raised questions of propriety of such a request.

But his case was transferred to another bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who also happens to be the 'master of the roster'.

Lawyers appearing against Chandy raised severe objections to this letter, questioning how can a litigant decide where he wants his case to be heard. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Chandy during the brief hearing.

But since Justice AM Khanwilkar, a judge on the new bench also opted to recuse, the case stood simply adjourned.

Kerala's former Transport Minister Chandy has moved the top court against the Kerala High Court verdict on the land encroachment case.

Chandy has asked for quashing the High Court order, which criticised him for suing his own government disregarding the Cabinet’s collective responsibility, and encroaching government land.

Chandy said the HC had erred in applying the principle of collective responsibility of Council of Ministers, which is irrelevant and extraneous for disposing of the real issue raised in his writ petition against Alappuzha Collector T V Anupama’s erroneous findings on wetland and paddy violations.

The Collector’s report received wide media publicity and Chandy had to quit the ministry.

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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