The Apex Court Explained: How to Write Intelligible and Logical Judgment

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The judgment replicates the individuality of the judge and therefore it is indispensable that it should be written with care and caution. The reasoning in the judgment should be intelligible and logical. Clarity and precision should be the goal.

New Delhi (ABC Live India): The Supreme Court of India on September 1, 2021 in case titled Shakuntala Shukla Vs State of Uttar Pradesh and Another defined definition of Judgment.

The contention of appellant was that the High Court failed to cite the reasons whatsoever while   releasing   the   accused   on   bail pending appeals.

The Judgment in para no. “9.2 opined that, “9.2 first of all, let us consider what “judgment” is.  “Judgment” means a   judicial   opinion   which   tells   the   story   of   the   case;   what   the   case   is about;   how   the   court   is   resolving   the   case   and   why.     “Judgment”   is defined as any decision given by a court on a question or questions or issue between the parties to a proceeding properly before court.   It is also   defined   as   the   decision   or   the   sentence   of   a   court   in   a   legal proceeding along with the reasoning of a judge which leads him to his decision. The   term   “judgment”   is   loosely   used   as   judicial   opinion   or decision.   Roslyn Atkinson,  J.,   Supreme   Court   of   Queensland,   in   her speech once stated that there are four purposes for any judgment that is written:

(i) to spell out judges own thoughts; (ii) to explain your decision to the parties; (iii) to  communicate  the  reasons   for  the  decision  to  the  public; (iv) to provide reasons for an appeal court to consider.

Further in para 9.3 of judgment define, “It   is   not   adequate   that   a   decision   is   accurate,   it   must   also   be reasonable, logical and easily comprehensible.  The judicial opinion is to be written in such a way that it elucidates in a convincing manner and proves the fact that the verdict is righteous and judicious.  What the court says, and how it says it, is equally important as what the court decides.

Also in Para 9.3 the apex Court says that, “Every   judgment   contains   four   basic   elements   and   they   are   (i) statement of material (relevant) facts, (ii) legal issues or questions, (iii) deliberation to reach at decision and (iv) the ratio or conclusive decision.

The Supreme Court confirmed that a judgment should be coherent, systematic and logically organized. It should enable the reader to trace the fact to a logical conclusion on the basis   of   legal   principles. It   is pertinent to examine the  important elements in a judgment in order to fully understand the art of reading a judgment. In   the   Path   of   Law,   Holmes   J.   has   stressed   the   insentient factors that persuade a judge.   A judgment has to formulate findings of fact, it has to decide what the relevant principles of law are, and it has to apply those legal principles to the facts.   The important elements of a judgment are:

i) Caption

ii) Case number and citation

iii) Facts

iv) Issues

v) Summary of arguments by both the parties

vi) Application of law

vii) Final conclusive verdict

9.4 The judgment replicates the individuality of the judge and therefore it is indispensable that it should be written with care and caution. The reasoning in the judgment should be intelligible and logical. Clarity and precision should be the goal. All conclusions should be supported by reasons duly recorded.

The findings and directions should be precise and  specific.Writing judgments is  an  art, though  it  involves skillful application of law and logic.  We are conscious of the fact that the judges may be overburdened with the pending cases and the arrears, but at the same time, quality can never be sacrificed for quantity.Unless judgment is not in a precise manner, it would not have a sweeping impact.There are some judgments  that eventually   get   overruled   because of  lack of clarity.Therefore, whenever a judgment is written, it should have clarity on facts; on submissions made on behalf of the rival parties; discussion on  law points   and   thereafter  reasoning and thereafter the ultimate conclusion and the findings and thereafter the operative portion of the order. 

There must be clarity on the final relief granted.  A party to the litigation must know what actually he has got by way of final relief.  The aforesaid aspects are to be borne in mind while writing the judgment, which   would   reduce   the   burden   of   the   appellate court   too. We   have come across many judgments which lack clarity on facts, reasoning and the findings and many a times it is very difficult to appreciate what the learned   judge   wants   to   convey   through   the   judgment   and   because   of that,   matters   are   required   to   be   remanded   for   fresh   consideration. Therefore, it is desirable that the judgment should have clarity, both on facts and law and on submissions, findings, reasoning and the ultimate relief granted.”

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