Legal Provisions Regarding Cases where Judge or Magistrate has Personal Interest

It is also clarified that a Judge or Magistrate cannot be deemed to be a party to, or personally interested in any case:

(a) Merely because he is concerned therein in a public capacity; or

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(b) Merely because he has viewed the place where the offence is alleged to have been committed (or any other material place), and has made an inquiry in connection with the case.

The principle underlying S. 479 is one of the oldest and plainest rules of justice and common-sense that no man shall sit as a Judge in a case in which he has a substantial interest. Thus, no Judge can act in any matter in which he has any pecuniary interest, nor where he has any interest, though not pecuniary, sufficient to create a real bias. (Aloo Nath v. Cagubha,—194 19 Bom. 608)

The reason behind this healthy provision is that a person who, by his interest pecuniary or personal is certain to have a bias in the matter of prosecution, ought not to sit as a Judge. (Word v. Corpn. of Calcutta,—1881 7 Cal. 322)

It is not a mere interest in a case or in the circumstances of a case which disqualifies a Judge from trying a case; what does disqualify him is a substantial interest, giving rise to a real bias, and not merely to a possibility of bias. (Maung,—1939 Ran. 251)

The Bombay High Court has held that pecuniary interest, however small it may be (as for instance, a share in a joint stock company) is a sufficient disqualification, independently of whether there is a real bias or not. (Shamdasani,—31 B.L.R. 925)

A Full Bench of the Lahore High Court has held that the provisions of the Code are not applicable to summary proceedings taken for punishing a contempt, and therefore, S. 479 would not apply to such a case. The reason given by the Court is that contempt proceedings are taken, not with a view to protecting the Court as a whole or individual Judges thereof, but with a view to protecting the public from the mischief caused if the authority of the Court is undermined or impaired. (Gauba,—1942 Lah. 411)

The following are a few instances where it was held that the Magistrate was disqualified from trying a case:

(a) Where a Magistrate directed investigation of the Police preliminary to the trial;

(b) Where the Magistrate was the Chairman of the Municipal Committee concerned with the prosecution.

(c) Where the Magistrate was himself a witness in the case.

On the other hand, the following are instances where the Magistrate was held not to be disqualified from trying a case:

(a) Where the Magistrate had held a preliminary inquiry under S. 202;

(b) Where the Magistrate was in charge of the opium administration of the District;

(c) Where the Magistrate was the master of the complainant.