Krishna river dispute: Telangana HC rejects request for recusal

Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao of the Telangana High Court on Monday rejected Advocate-General (AG) B.S. Prasad’s request to recuse from hearing a writ petition filed by two farmers of Andhra Pradesh against a G.O. issued by the Telangana government pertaining to the usage of Krishna river water for power generation.

During the hearing, Additional Advocate General J. Ramachandra Rao appealed to the bench of Justices Ramachandra Rao and T. Vinod Kumar that the petition should be heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice (CJ) Hima Kohli as per the roster of sitting arrangements. Justice Ramachandra Rao said the bench would examine the issue in the post-lunch session.

Meanwhile, appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel Vedula Venkataramana said the plea should be heard by the same bench since the petition involved issues relating to A.P. Reorganisation Act, 2014 (APRA). As per the roster, APRA matters were allocated to the present bench.

After the lunch break, Justice Ramachandra Rao said the bench got a clarification from the office of the Chief Justice that it should hear the matter.

Mr. Prasad immediately requested the judge to post it before the bench headed by the CJ.

“When the matter was clarified by the CJ office, how can it be conveyed to them to hear the matter,” Justice Ramachandra Rao questioned.

The AG made an appeal for Justice Ramachandra Rao to recuse from hearing the petition without citing any reasons, to which the judge raised an objection, saying that it is in poor taste and that he did not expect the AG’s office to make such an unreasonable request. He further observed that such requests would amount to ‘bench hunting’.

Finally, the AG dropped his request and the bench proceeded to hear the matter. As the petitioners’ counsel presented his contentions, Justice Ramachandra Rao sought to know if he was aware of the Supreme Court verdict that inter-State water disputes should not be heard by High Courts, citing the apex court judgment in a matter relating to the Rajolibanda project.

The division bench told the advocates concerned to go through the said judg\ment and come prepared on Tuesday (July 6) to represent their cases.

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