Madras HC Bench Split About Recording Adverse Remarks On Trial Court Judge In Judgment [Read Judgment]

Madras HC Bench Split About Recording Adverse Remarks On Trial Court Judge In Judgment [Read Judgment]

‘Commenting the judgment, giving warning to the learned Sessions Judge and registering adverse remarks in the service register, all this can be done separately by giving a chance to the learned Sessions Court Judge and to explain his stand regarding the judgment given by him,’ Justice Ramathilagam said.

A division bench of Madras High Court, though concurred in reversing a trial court judgment awarding death penalty to the accused, was seen split on the aspect of adverse remarks made by one of the judges on the trial court judge and quality of his judgment.

Justice S Ramathilagam of Madras High Court, in a separate opinion though concurring with Justice S Vimala on acquitting a man who was sentenced to death by the trial court, expressed his reservations with regard to the adverse remarks against made by Justice Vimala against the Sessions judge's judgment as "poor" and the proposed disciplinary action to be taken against the said judge.

The bench was dealing with an appeal against death sentence awarded by the trial court. The accused was charged with murder of a 4-year-old girl. Justice Vimala authored the lead judgment and observed that evidence was totally lacking to convict the accused.

While concluding the judgment, setting aside the trial court judgment, Justice Vimala had observed: “Judiciary has more accountability than the other two branches, i.e., legislature and executive, because judiciary alone has the power of judicial review over the action of other two. When more power is exercised, more caution is essential. Judging can be done only on the basis of legal evidence. If at all the trial court has felt the agony of a four-year-old having been done to death, when it finds that there is no evidence, either a re-trial or de-novo trial or further investigation ought to have been ordered. Leaving those options, it is not fair and proper for the trial court to have awarded a death sentence in respect of an offence for which there is no evidence... Only in rarest of rare cases, even after the establishment of case by the legal evidence, awarding of death penalty is permissible. This is a case where there is no evidence at all. Still, death penalty handed down in a very casual manner, probably out of an over enthusiasm and zeal to stray into the irrelevant considerations other than those sanctioned by the highest court of the land. The Capital punishment would evoke an awe and send shock waves only when it is based on truth and evidence and would lose its sanctity and severity when it is perverse and peddled frequently by every trial court for fear of indictment from outside sources. Therefore, the learned trial Judge is called upon to explain as to why adverse remarks shall not be ordered to be entered into the service records, recording that the quality of judgment is poor.”

Justice Ramathilagam objected to the finding that there was no evidence at all, and said: “We cannot say that there is no evidence at all to implicate this accused. Trial Court has discussed matters pertaining to the motivation behind this crime, recovery of the ID card, recovery of the material objects of the deceased through the accused, the description of the events or sequence of events given by the accused of how he committed the crime, getting absconded since the day of recovery of the dead body for no reason.”

On the observations on quality of judgment by Justice Vimala, Justice Ramathilagam said: “Commenting the judgment, giving warning to the learned Sessions Judge and registering adverse remarks in the service register, all this can be done separately by giving a chance to the learned Sessions Court Judge and to explain his stand regarding the judgment given by him. Mentioning all these in a judgment copy becomes a document which may give mental agony to the learned Judge which will affect his future, who is holding the highest post in his district and member of our Forum. Further, we are giving a chance for the public to comment on the trial Court Judge also. So it need not be a part of the judgment copy.”

Citing example of the Supreme Court expunging adverse remarks even if the order impugned was wrong, the judge said the adverse remarks made against the trial judge in the judgment has to be expunged.

Justice Ramathilagam also said: “When we are convinced in getting the proof for the crime, others should be convinced about our judgment given by us. When the trial Court has discussed in detail why this punishment was awarded based on the findings against the accused, it should also take the other factors with care, which create a doubt and these doubts should also be discussed well to say why these doubts or negative points are brushed away. When we reason out why we consider the factors which are against the accused we have the responsibility to reason out why we discard factors favourable to the accused. Only then the judgment becomes a full-fledged unbiased absolute judgment.”

 Read the Judgment Here