SC COVID hearing: Harish Salve recuses himself as amicus curiae
Senior advocate Harish Salve on Friday recused himself as amicus curiae in the Supreme Court's suo motu case regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Salve said his friendship with Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde was being seen as a possible conflict of interest. Meanwhile, the court also clarified that it had not transferred cases regarding COVID-19 pending in the High Courts to itself.
SC bench accepted Salve's request to recuse himself
The suo motu case is being heard by a bench comprising CJI Bobde and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat. The bench said on Thursday they will only hear Salve and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in the matter. Appearing in court on Friday, Salve sought to recuse himself given his proximity to the CJI and the bench accepted his decision.
'Don't want case to be under shadow'
According to Bar and Bench, Salve told the court, "It's the most sensitive case this court will look into. I don't want this case to be decided under a shadow that I knew CJI from school and college and allegations being made or there is a conflict of interest." "Please allow me to recuse with all humility," he said.
Court says it didn't transfer HC cases to itself
Further, the bench clarified that it had not transferred the cases pending in the high courts to itself. Earlier on Thursday, several senior lawyers, including Dushyant Dave, had criticized the SC's move to take over the issues related to the pandemic from the High Courts. The bench criticized Dave for his reaction to the Thursday order without reading the judgment, The Indian Express reported.
Dushyant Dave imputed motives to us without reading order: SC
"We never said a word and did not stop the HC. We asked the Centre to go to HC and report to them. What kind of perception are you talking about! Talk about these proceedings," the bench told Dave, "You have imputed motives to us without reading the order." Dave said it was a genuine perception as the SC had done the same before.
Next SC hearing on Tuesday
On Thursday, the SC said the matter was being heard in several HCs "creating some confusion" and "diversion of resources." It had asked the Centre to submit a "national plan" noting that the outbreak was "almost a national emergency." The matter was adjourned to April 27. A different bench will likely take up the matter as Friday marks the CJI's last day in office.