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Odisha to seek recusal of judge

New Delhi, Nov. 24: Odisha has readied a special leave petition in Supreme Court to seek the recusal of former Andhra Pradesh High Court judge Justice Ghulam Mohammed, aggrieved as it was at his being appointed to the three-member Vamsadhara Water Tribunal.

The SLP will be filed this week, informed sources told The Telegraph.

Odisha is seeking recusal of Justice Mohammed on the ground that having been a judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, “there is reasonable likelihood of his bias” against the former in the pending water dispute on the inter-state water sharing agreement.

Though Justice Mohammed himself had earlier turned down Odisha’s application for his recusal, the state had filed a writ petition in Delhi High Court, which dismissed its plea. Following this, Odisha chose to file the SLP.

Senior counsel Raju Ramachandra has settled the draft SLP on behalf of the state. The tribunal was constituted in November 2010 on the directions of the apex court. The Centre had initially appointed retired Supreme Court judge Justice B.N. Aggrawal as its chairperson along with Justice B.N. Chaturvedi, former judge of Delhi High Court, and Justice Nirmal Singh, former judge of J&K High Court. However, even before the tribunal commenced its formal hearing, Justice Aggrawal resigned and Justice Mukundakam Sharma, former judge of the apex court, was appointed as chairperson in his place.

Subsequently, Justice Nirmal Singh also resigned, following which the Centre appointed Justice Mohammed in his place in August. In its SLP, Odisha has submitted that besides there being reasonable likelihood of bias from Justice Mohammed, there was never a precedent when any judge from the disputing state was appointed to a tribunal adjudicating the dispute. The Centre had constituted the tribunal under the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, following directions of the Supreme Court.