Judicial system for Aam Aadmi: SC worried over lengthy arguments

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday started a debate in the post script to its judgment on Facebook on how to ensure "more crisp, clear and precise judgments so that the common man can understand what is the law being laid down," stressing that "after all, it is for the common man that the judicial system exists."

A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy asked the legal fraternity to ponder over its suggestion to have "succinctly framed written synopsis in advance, and the same being adhered to in course of oral arguments to be addressed over a limited time period."

It felt a post script necessary to deal with the likely surge of the pending cases, noting how the case of Facebook against summons by a committee of Delhi Assembly resulted in 26 hours of hearing, which is a lot of judicial time, plus written synopses, additional writtion synopses, rejoinders and replies filed by both sides that required voluminous compilations, resulting in the delay of four months between reserving and delivering the judgment.

"We find that judgments are becoming more complex and verbose only on accoun of large number of precedents cited and the necessity to deal with them and not merely refer to them as done in other countries," the Bench said, noting that the courts "are today weighed down by judicial precedents."

Noting how short and crisp judgments were delivered by the Privy Council or the earlier years of the Supreme Court, the Bench said how easy it is "to instruct the junior counsel to take out all judgments on a particular point of view and submit it

to the court in a nice spiral binding. On every aspect there may be multiple judgments."

It said: "In our view if the proposition of law is not doubted by the Court, it does not need a precedent unless asked for. If a question is raised about a legal proposition, the judgment must be relatable to that proposition – and not multiple judgments."

The Bench said the need of the hour is to write clear and short judgments which the litigant can understand by adopting the Wren & Martin principles of precis writing."But then how is this to be achieved if the submissions itself go on for hours on end with vast amounts of material being placed before the Court; with the expectation that each aspect would be dealt with in detail failing which review applications will be filed."

The Court has referred to the international best practices, citing the European Convention on Human Rights, and practices in the US and British courts, unlike in India where the arguments in a case go on for hours and days, thus chocking other pending cases. Way Forward, according to it, is the clarity on what is to be addressed before the Court and counsels must be clear on the contours of their submissions from the very inception of the arguments.

Noting that the legal fraternity would not want restriction of time perio for oral submissions which must be brought into force, the Court said: "We really doubt whether any judicial forum anywhere in the world would allow such time periods to be taken for oral submissions that are further supplemented by written synopsis thereafter. Instead of restricting oral arguments, it has become a competing aren of who gets to argue for the longest time."

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