Monday, 2 November 2020

Whether delay in delivery of reasoned judgment violates Article 21 of the Constitution?

 The report was submitted by the Registrar

(Judicial) stating that the order was pronounced on

21.01.2020 being only the operative portion, and the

reasons were received by the Registry only on 09.10.2020

after almost nine months. It was uploaded on the same

date.

9. On the aforesaid short ground, without even looking

at any other aspect, we issued notice returnable for

today and stayed the operation of the impugned order.

10. We must note with regret that the counsel extended

through various judicial pronouncements including the

one referred to aforesaid appear to have been ignored,

more importantly where oral orders are pronounced. In

case of such orders, it is expected that they are either

dictated in the Court or at least must follow

immediately thereafter, to facilitate any aggrieved

party to seek redressal from the higher Court. The

delay in delivery of judgments has been observed to be a

violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India in

Anil Rai’s case (supra) and as stated aforesaid, the

problem gets aggravated when the operative portion is

made available early and the reasons follow much later.

11. It cannot be countenanced that between the date of

the operative portion of the order and the reasons

disclosed, there is a hiatus period of nine months!

This is much more than what has been observed to be the

maximum time period for even pronouncement of reserved

judgment as per Anil Rai’s case (supra).

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL N O.3564/2020


BALAJI BALIRAM MUPADE Vs THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA 


Author: SANJAY KISHAN KAUL, J.

Dated: OCTOBER 29, 2020.

Leave granted.

1. Judicial discipline requires promptness in delivery of

judgments – an aspect repeatedly emphasized by this Court.

The problem is compounded where the result is known but not

the reasons. This deprives any aggrieved party of the

opportunity to seek further judicial redressal in the next

tier of judicial scrutiny.

2. A Constitution Bench of this Court as far back as in the

year 1983 in the State of Punjab & Ors. v. Jagdev Singh

Talwandi - 1984 (1) SCC 596 drew the attention of the High

Courts to the serious difficulties which were caused on

account of a practice which was increasingly being adopted by

several High Courts, that of pronouncing the final orders

without a reasoned judgment. The relevant paragraph is

reproduced as under:

“30. We would like to take this opportunity to

point out that serious difficulties arise on

account of the practice increasingly adopted

by the High Courts, of pronouncing the final

order without a reasoned judgment. It is

desirable that the final order which the High

Court intends to pass should not be announced

until a reasoned judgment is ready for

pronouncement. Suppose, for example, that a

final order without a reasoned judgment is

announced by the High Court that a house shall

be demolished, or that the custody of a child

shall be handed over to one parent as against

the other, or that a person accused of a

serious charge is acquitted, or that a statute

is unconstitutional or, as in the instant

case, that a detenu be released from

detention. If the object of passing such

orders is to ensure speedy compliance with

them, that object is more often defeated by

the aggrieved party filing a special Leave

Petition in this Court against the order

passed by the High Court. That places this

Court in a predicament because, without the

benefit of the reasoning of the High Court, it

is difficult for this Court to allow the bare

order to be implemented. The result

inevitably is that the operation of the order

passed by the High Court has to be stayed

pending delivery of the reasoned judgment.”

3. Further, much later but still almost two decades

ago, this Court in Anil Rai v. State of Bihar - 2001 (7)

SCC 318 deemed it appropriate to provide some guidelines

regarding the pronouncement of judgments, expecting them

to be followed by all concerned under the mandate of

this Court. It is not necessary to reproduce the

directions except to state that normally the judgment is

expected within two months of the conclusion of the

arguments, and on expiry of three months any of the

parties can file an application in the High Court with

prayer for early judgment. If, for any reason, no

judgment is pronounced for six months, any of the

parties is entitled to move an application before the

then Chief Justice of the High Court with a prayer to

re-assign the case before another Bench for fresh

arguments.

4. The aforementioned principle has been forcefully

restated by this Court on several occasions including in

Zahira Habibulla H. Sheikh & Ors. v. State of Gujarat &

Ors. [AIR 2004 SC 3467 paras 80-82], Mangat Ram v. State

of Haryana (2008) 7 SCC 96 paras 5-10] and most recently

in Ajay Singh & Anr. Etc. v. State of Chhattisgarh &

Anr.- AIR 2017 SC 310.


5. The facts of the present case speak for themselves.

The Special Leave Petition was filed against the

impugned order dated 21.01.2020 which read as under:

“OPERATIVE ORDER”

1. For the reasons separately recorded, the

present writ petition is dismissed.

2. The prayer for continuation of interim order

is rejected.

3. Authenticated copy of this order be supplied

to learned Asstt.Govt.Pleader. In turn,

learned Asstt.Govt.Pleader is directed to

communicate the same to the Returning Officer

forthwith.”

6. The Special Leave Petition was filed in March, 2020

and when it was listed before this Court on 07.10.2020,

counsel for the petitioner categorically stated that a

copy of the reasons for the order dated 21.01.2020 had

still not been uploaded till the morning of that day.

7. We thus called upon the Registrar of the Aurangabad

Bench of the Bombay High Court to verify the aforesaid

fact and communicate to this Court forthwith as to why

the order had not been uploaded. We also restrained any

coercive action in pursuance of the impugned order as we

were unable to appreciate the controversy in the absence

of any reasons.


8. The report was submitted by the Registrar

(Judicial) stating that the order was pronounced on

21.01.2020 being only the operative portion, and the

reasons were received by the Registry only on 09.10.2020

after almost nine months. It was uploaded on the same

date.

9. On the aforesaid short ground, without even looking

at any other aspect, we issued notice returnable for

today and stayed the operation of the impugned order.

10. We must note with regret that the counsel extended

through various judicial pronouncements including the

one referred to aforesaid appear to have been ignored,

more importantly where oral orders are pronounced. In

case of such orders, it is expected that they are either

dictated in the Court or at least must follow

immediately thereafter, to facilitate any aggrieved

party to seek redressal from the higher Court. The

delay in delivery of judgments has been observed to be a

violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India in

Anil Rai’s case (supra) and as stated aforesaid, the

problem gets aggravated when the operative portion is

made available early and the reasons follow much later.

11. It cannot be countenanced that between the date of

the operative portion of the order and the reasons

disclosed, there is a hiatus period of nine months!

This is much more than what has been observed to be the

maximum time period for even pronouncement of reserved

judgment as per Anil Rai’s case (supra).

12. The appellant undoubtedly being the aggrieved party

and prejudiced by the impugned order is unable to avail

of the legal remedy of approaching this Court where

reasons can be scrutinized. It really amounts to

defeating the rights of the appellant to challenge the

impugned order on merits and even the succeeding party

is unable to obtain the fruits of success of the

litigation.

13. We are constrained to pen down a more detailed

order and refer to the earlier view on account of the

fact that recently a number of such orders have come to

our notice and we thought it is time to send a reminder

to the High Courts.

14. We have little option in the aforesaid facts of the

case but to set aside the impugned order and remit the

matter back for reconsideration of the High Court on

merits, uninfluenced by the reasons which have been

finally disclosed in respect of the impugned order.

15. Needless to say, the matter would be taken up by a

Bench not consisting of the Members who constituted the

Bench earlier.


16. The appeal is allowed in the aforesaid terms

leaving the parties to bear their own costs.

17. Since the matter has to be re-heard, the interim

order which was operating in favour of the appellant in

terms of the order dated 15.05.2013 of the High Court

would continue to enure for the benefit of the

appellant.

18. A copy of this order be circulated to all High

Courts.

…………………………………………….J

[SANJAY KISHAN KAUL]

…………………………………………….J

[HRISHIKESH ROY]

NEW DELHI;

OCTOBER 29, 2020.


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