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Report No. 79

IV. Judgments

6.27. Judgments to be pronounced within reasonable time.-

We now deal more specifically with judgments. It has been observed that judgments are generally reserved and, in some cases, pronounced a long time after the arguments have been heard. Long delay in the pronouncement of judgment is an unhealthy practice. The Law Commission of India, in its Report on the Reform of Judicial Administration,1 expressed the view that though ordinarily the most convenient course for the judges would be to deliver the judgment straightaway at the close of the hearing, there could be certain cases in which judgments would need to be reserved. The Commission observed that in such cases the reserved judgments should be pronounced within a reasonable time. We fully agree that judgments should be pronounced within a reasonable time.

1. 14th Report, Vol. I.

6.28. Statement to be circulated.-

Normally, it should be possible to pronounce a judgment, if not done immediately, within a week of the conclusion of arguments. Care may be taken to ensure that the time lag between the conclusion of arguments and the pronouncement of the judgment does not exceed one month, except in some special matters. We are, however, not unmindful of the fact that judgments are, on occasions, not pronounced for a number of months after conclusion of arguments. This is an undesirable practice and affects the image of the courts. It would perhaps administratively help if in each High Court a statement is circulated amongst the judges every month, giving a list of cases in which judgments have not been pronounced within two months of the conclusion of arguments.

6.29. Judgment of dismissal.-

It has been brought to our notice that sometimes the judges have to spend considerable time in dictating judgments in regular second appeals and civil revisions, even though those appeals and revisions are devoid of any merit. We suggest that it would be permissible for a judge, when dismissing a regular second appeal or a civil revision, to give a short statement of facts, the main contentions advanced and brief reasons for repelling those contentions. This would eliminate the necessity of writing long and elaborate judgment in such cases.

6.30. Observations in earlier Report on the subject of judgment.-

We may also draw attention to the observationsRade by us in the context of judgments of the trial courts in our 77th Report1. We feel that though some of those observations may not be apt for the judgments of High Courts, by and large they underline the importance of some wider aspects which can prove helpful. It was said in that Report-

"7.4. One general tendency is to cite a very large number of authorities and to read lengthy passages from those judgments. Experience tells us that the fate of most cases depends upon facts. The law bearing on the cases is well settled by statute or the pronouncements of the highest court. It would be much better if the judgments of the trial deal with questions of fact by appraising the evidence, refer to the relevant statutory provisions applicable to the matter and cite such of those authorities as have a direct bearing.

Burdening of the judgments with too many authorities mostly with a view to distinguish them has invariably the effect of making judgthents unduly lengthy. It has to be borne in mind that the primary function of the judge is to decide the case before him. A judgment should set out the salient facts of the case, deal with the points of controversy, appraise the relevant evidence, discuss the questions of law which arise and incorporate the findings of the court on the various issues. The judgment should conclude by stating in precise language the actual relief, if any, granted to the plaintiff.

7.5. A judgment, it needs to be emphasised is not a medium to display the learning of the judge, on points which have only incidental bearing. The function of a judge while deciding a case is not the same as that of a research scholar writing a thesis on a particular branch of law. The art of writing not very long judgment while at the same time dealing with all material points of controversy can be acquired only slowly and gradually. It is indeed learning the art of condensing the maximum of ideas into the minimum of words.

7.6. There is, however, one danger which we have to guard against. Brevity in the matter of judgments should not be used as a justification for not dealing with inconvenient contentions and not facing the crux of the argument of a counsel against whom the judge decides the matter. The stress on brief judgments should certainly not provide a cover for mental lethargy nor an alibi for intellectual dishonesty. A balance has, therefore, to be kept in the matter."

1. 77th Report, Delay and Arrears in Trial Courts, paras. 7.4 to 7.6.

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