Reddi Vs. Prema  Insc 224 (20 February 2008)
Arijit Pasayat & P. Sathasivam Dr. Arijit Pasayat, J.
Heard learned counsel for the parties.
Challenge in this appeal is to the judgment of a learned single Judge of the
Madras High Court allowing the Civil Revision petition filed highlighting the
irregularities committed by the learned Seventh Assistant City Civil Judge,
Chennai while pronouncing the judgment in O.S. No. 584 of 1996. The controversy
in the suit need not be detailed, as the points in issue in the present appeal
lie within a very narrow compass.
Suit was filed by the present respondent for specific performance to enforce a
sale agreement dated 20.10.1988.
suit is stated to have been decided on 24.03.1999.
to the present respondent, who was the petitioner in the Civil Revision
petition, even without dictating the judgment to the Stenographer, transcribing
and signing the same, simply an endorsement in the plaint docket sheet was made
to the effect that the plaintiff in the suit was not entitled to the relief of
specific performance to enforce a sale agreement but was entitled to refund of
Rs.2,00,000/-. Stand in the revision petition was that there was no judgment in
the eye of law. It was pointed out that only the operative portion was dictated
on 25.03.1999 during lunch time and, therefore, the decision rendered on
24.03.1999 was non est in the eye of law and a nullity. Learned counsel
appearing for the respondent in the Civil Revision petition i.e. the present
appellant took the stand that four issues and an additional issue had been
framed. The entire judgment had been dictated by learned Single Judge and the
transcribed part covered the vital issues 1 to 3 and the Stenographer was half
way through the fourth issue and the additional issue. Therefore, it was
submitted that a reasonable inference should be drawn that all the issues had
been dictated to the stenographer and on the date the judgment was pronounced,
i.e. 24.03.1999, the judgment must be deemed to have been completed. Learned
Single Judge did not find substance in the stand taken by the present
appellant. It was held that since the learned Trial Judge had not completed the
judgment before he delivered his decision, it has to be held that there was no
judgment in the eye of law. Accordingly, the Civil Revision petition was
allowed and judgment dated 24.03.1999 was set aside and the matter was remitted
to the present Seventh Assistant City Civil Judge, Chennai who was to hear the
arguments afresh and render a decision.
Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the course adopted by learned
City Civil Judge is permissible in law in the background of Order XX, Rule-5 of
the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (in short `the CPC').
counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, submitted that the Trial Judge
has not decided the matter in the background of Order XX, Rule 5, CPC. On the
contrary, the provisions of Order XX, Rules-1 and 3 apply to the facts of the
Order XX, Rule-1 (1) of the CPC (Madras Amendment) reads as follows:
The Court, after the case has been heard, shall pronounce judgment in open
Court, either at once or on some future day, of which due notice shall be given
to the parties or their pleaders.
The judgment may be pronounced by dictation to a shorthand-writer in open
court, where the presiding Judge has been specially empowered in that behalf by
the High Court."
Order XX, Rule 3 reads as follows:
judgment shall be dated and signed by the Judge in open Court at the time of
pronouncing it and when once signed, shall not afterwards be altered or added
to save as provided by Section 152 or on review."
Order XX, Rule 5 on which great emphasis was laid by learned counsel for the
appellant says that in Suits in which issues have been framed, the Court shall
state its finding or decision with the reason therefor, upon each separate
issue, unless the finding upon any one or more of the issues is sufficient for
the decision of the Suit.
rightly submitted by learned counsel for the respondent, this was not the view
expressed by the learned Trial Judge.
ultimate question is whether in the instant case the judgment has been validly
delivered? If it is a mere procedural irregularity and the Judge concerned had
not signed the judgment, then the judgment thus rendered cannot be in-
validated. Order XX Rule 1 CPC postulates that after the case has been heard,
the court hearing the same shall pronounce the judgment in open court by
dictation to the shorthand writer, wherever it is permissible. It bears the
date on which it is pronounced. The date of the judgment is never altered by
the date on which the signature has been put subsequently.
mere fact that a major portion has been dictated by the learned Judge in the
judgment already dictated, will not, by itself, lead to the conclusion that the
judgment had been delivered.
and Anr. (AIR 1969 SC 1167), it was inter-alia held as follows (at Para 6):
"Trial of a civil dispute in Court is intended to achieve, according to
law and the procedure of the Court, a judicial determination between the
contesting parties of the matter in controversy. Opportunity to the parties
interested in the dispute to present their respective cases on question of law
as well as fact, ascertainment of facts by means of evidence tendered by the
parties and adjudication by a reasoned judgment of the dispute upon a finding
on the facts in controversy and application of the law to the facts found, are
essential attributes of a judicial trial. In a judicial trial, the judge not
only must reach a conclusion which he regards as just, but, unless otherwise
permitted, by the practice of the Court or by law, he must record the ultimate
mental process leading from the dispute to its solution. A judicial
determination of a disputed claim where substantial questions of law or fact
arise is satisfactorily reached, only if it be supported by the most cogent
reasons that suggest themselves to the Judge; a mere order deciding the matter
in dispute not supported by reasons is no judgment at all.
of reasons in support of a decision of a disputed claim serves more purposes
than one. It is intended to ensure that the decision is not the result of whim
or fancy, but of a judicial approach to the matter in contest; it is also
intended to ensure adjudication of the matter according to law and the
procedure established by law. A party to the dispute is ordinarily entitled to
know the grounds on which the Court has decided against him, and more so, when
the judgment is subject to appeal.
Appellate Court will then have adequate material on which it may determine
whether the facts are properly ascertained, the law has been correctly applied
and the resultant decision is just. It is unfortunate that the learned Trial
Judge has recorded no reasons in support of his conclusion, and the High Court
in appeal merely recorded that they thought that the plaintiff had sufficiently
proved the case in the plant."
declaration by a Judge of his intention of what his `judgment' is going to be,
or a declaration of his intention of what final result it is going to embody,
is not a judgment until he had crystallized his intentions into a formal shape
and pronounced it in open court as the final expression of his mind.
The CPC does not envisage the writing of a judgment after deciding the case by
an oral judgment and it must not be resorted to and it would be against public
policy to ascertain by evidence alone what the `judgment' of the Court was,
where the final result was announced orally but the `judgment', as defined in
the CPC embodying a concise statement of the case, the points for
determination, the decision thereon and the reasons for such decision, was finalized
Section 2(9) of the CPC defines a "judgment" to mean the statement
given by the Judge of the grounds for a decree or order.
(8) SCC 396), it was inter-alia held as follows:
is yet another infirmity in the case which relates to the "judgment"
passed by the single Judge and upheld by the Division Bench.
as defined in Section 2(9) of the Code of Civil Procedure means the statement
given by the Judge of the grounds for a decree or order. What a judgment should
contain is indicated in Order 20 Rule 4(2) which says that a judgment
"shall contain a concise statement of the case, the points for
determination, the decision thereon, and the reasons for such decision".
It should be a self-contained document from which it should appear as to what were
the facts of the case and what was the controversy which was tried to be
settled by the Court and in what manner. The process of reasoning by which the
Court came to the ultimate conclusion and decreed the suit should be reflected
clearly in the judgment."
Undisputedly, the Trial Judge had not completed the judgment before he
delivered his decision. That being so, the impugned judgment does not suffer
from any infirmity to warrant interference. What the High Court has directed is
to hear only the arguments afresh. While dismissing the appeal, we direct that
the arguments shall be heard afresh and the Trial Court shall deliver its
judgment as early as practicable, preferably within three months from today. To
avoid unnecessary delay, let the parties appear before the Trial Court on
05.03.2008 so that the date for arguments can be fixed.