The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the result of adjudication cannot be announced without the judgment available on record.
A two-judge bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy held that the non-availability of judgment can never be a judgment because there is no declaration by way of pronouncement in the open court that the accused has been convicted or acquitted.
The issue in the case relates to an order of the Second Additional Sessions Judge, Ambikapur, in a dowry death case. He recorded in the order sheet that ‘recorded that the accused persons had been acquitted as per the judgment separately typed, signed and dated’.
The District and Sessions Judge submitted the report to the high court stating that no judgments were found in the records of such cases. It has also been brought to the notice of the high court that in sessions trials, being Sessions Trial No. 148 of 1999 and Sessions Trial No. 71 of 1995, though the same trial judge had purportedly delivered the judgments, those were not available on record as the judgments had not actually been dictated, dated or signed.
Then the matter was placed before the full court of the high court, which passed a resolution placing the trial judge concerned under suspension in contemplation of a departmental inquiry. At the same time, the full court took the decision to transfer the cases in question from the trial judge concerned to the file of District and Sessions judge, for rehearing and disposal.
Upholding the decision of high court, the bench said it was imperative on the part of the learned trial judge to pronounce the judgment in open court by delivering the whole of the judgment or by reading out the whole of the judgment or by reading out the operative part of the judgment and explaining the substance of the judgment in a language which is understood by the accused or his pleader.
“A judgment, as has been always understood, is the expression of an opinion after due consideration of the facts which deserve to be determined. Without pronouncement of a judgment in the open court, signed and dated, it is difficult to treat it as a judgment.”
Deprecated ‘reasons to follow’ judgments by High Courts
The bench also observed that despite the Supreme Court’s directions, sometimes the court comes across judgments and orders where the high courts have announced the result of the case by stating “reasons to follow”.
The bench quoted the following observations of Constitution Bench in State of Punjab and others v. Jagdev Singh Talwandi to deprecate the practice:
“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.”
Read the Judgment here.