Socratic Method of Learning
The First Session of Socratic Method of Learning was initiated by Prof. Dr. R. Venkata Rao, Chairperson, VSLLS on 1 st November 2019. Prof. Rao explained that the distinguishing feature of the Socratic Method of Learning is that it focuses on a two-way process of learning for both the teacher and the students by ‘cooperative argumentative dialogue’. Such a process involves the elimination of a hypothesis and its constant substitution by a better one until the virtue, that is perfection, is attained. Thereafter, he highlighted the broad issue to be discussed in present session qua recusal of judges which pertains to balancing of the competing interests and, in particular, refers to the right of fair hearing without falling prey to ‘forum shopping’ tactic of the litigating party. Mr. J. Ravindran, Associate Dean, VSLLS explained the issue, law, and reasoning given by Arun Misra, J. against his recusal vide Order dated 23 rd October 2019 by the Constitutional Bench in SLP (C) Nos. 9036-38 of 2018 in Indore Development Authority v. Manohar Lal. Other judgments regarding recusal were also discussed. Students were also informed about opinions/views of other academicians like Prof. Faizan Mustafa, Vice-Chancellor, NALSAR, Shri Arvind Datar, Sr Advocate, S/Shri S Parthasarathy, and Vanshraj R Jain, Advocates. Copies of the relevant articles on the subject were also made available to the students.
Most of the students had come prepared after reading the judgment/articles. Thereafter, the session was opened for discussion on the propriety of refusing recusal and the grounds on which recusal may be made in any appropriate case. After due deliberation, he disclosed his opinion that recusal order though well reasoned; for the extraneous reason, the recusal should have been made. It was concurred by all present that whenever there is doubt in the mind of a party, Judges should gracefully recuse although the roster making power always remains with the Chief Justice of India. The (non) feasibility of enacting legislation establishing an extra-judicial independent body competent to order recusals or roster was also debated upon.