Saturday 28 August 2021

Whether a judgment once pronounced in open Court becomes operative even without the signatures of the Judges?

 The question as to whether the judgment was a valid one came up for consideration. While dealing with such a question, Bose J. spoke for the Court thus:-

"In our opinion, a judgment within the meaning of these sections is the final decision of the court intimated to the parties and to the world at large by formal "pronouncement" or "delivery" in the open court. It is a judicial act which must be performed in a judicial way. Small irregularities in the manner of pronouncement or the mode of delivery do not matter but the substance of the thing must be there: that can neither be blurred nor left to inference and conjecture nor can it be vague. All the rest-the manner in which it is to be recorded, the way in which it is to be authenticated the signing and the sealing, all the rules designed to secure certainity about its content and matter- can be cured; but not the hard core, namely the formal intimation of the decision and its content formely declared in a judicial way in open court. The exact way in which this is done does not matter. In some courts the judgment is delivered orally or read out, in some only the operative portion is pronounced, in some the judgment is merely signed after giving notice to the parties and laying the draft on the table for a given number of days for inspection." "An important point, therefore, arises. It is evident that the decision which is so pronounced or intimated must be a declaration of the mind of the court as it is at the time of pronouncement. We lay no stress on the mode or manner of delivery, as that is not of the essence, except to say that it must be done in a judicial way in open court. But, however, it is done, it must be an expression of the mind of the court at the time of delivery. We say this because that is the first judicial act touching the judgment which the court performs after the hearing. Everything else uptil then is done out of court and is not intended to be the operative act which sets all the consequences which follow on the judgment in motion. Judges may, not often do, discuss the matter among themselves and reach a tentative conclusion. That is not their judgment. They may write and exchange drafts. Those are not the judgment either, however, heavily and often they may have been signed. The final operative act is that which is formally declared in open court with the intention of making it the operative decision of the court. That is what constitutes the judgment.........."

Bose J. continued to say:

"As soon as the judgment is delivered that becomes the operative pronouncement of the court. The law then provides for the manner in which it is to be authtenticated and made certain. The rules regarding this differ but they do not form the essence of the matter and if there is irregularity in carrying them out it is curable. Thus if a judgment happens not to be signed and is inadvertently acted on and executed, the proceedings consequent on it would be valid because the judgment, if it can be shown to have been validly delivered, would stand good despite defects in the mode of its subsequent authentication".
Supreme Court of India
Vinod Kumar Singh vs Banaras Hindu University & Others on 11 November, 1987
Citations: 1988 AIR 371, 1988 SCR (1) 941
Author: M Rangnath

Bench: Misra Rangnath 

Read full Judgment here: Click here

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