December 3, 2023

‘Have not taken over covid cases in HCs’: SC raps lawyers for imputing motives as Harish Salve recuses

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The bench criticized Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave for his response to its order without reading the judgment.

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed senior advocate Harish Salve to withdraw as amicus curiae for the suo motu case related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Salve sought permission to recuse himself as amicus curiae, saying his “friendship with the CJI from school and college were being seen as a conflict of interest”. The bench, while saying it was “pained” at reading the response to its decision to appoint him, accepted Salve’s request.

The apex court also took exception to comments made by senior advocates in response to its decision to take suo motu cognizance of some key issues related to Covid-19 management in the country. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, clarified that the Court had not transferred the cases pending in the high courts to itself.

The bench, which also comprised Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, criticised Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave for his response to its order without reading the judgment.

“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, adding, “you have imputed motives to us without reading the order.”

Dave, in response, said it was a genuine perception as the Court had done it in the past.

The SC had said on Thursday that the matter was being heard in several high courts, “creating some confusion” and “diversion of resources”. It said there is “almost a national emergency” and asked the Centre to submit a “national plan” to deal with it.

The matter was adjourned to next Tuesday, April 27. As Friday marks the CJI’s last day in office, the case is likely to be taken up by a different bench next week.

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