“Verdict sans reason, denial of justice”

J. Venkatesan

Right to reason an indispensable part of judicial system

Party must know why decision has gone against him

NEW DELHI: Observing that “failure to give reasons amounts to denial of justice,” the Supreme Court has asked all High Courts to adduce reasons in their judgments.

“Reasons are live links between the mind of the decision taker to the controversy in question and the decision or conclusion arrived at. Reasons substitute subjectivity with objectivity,” said a Bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Mukundakam Sharma.

“The emphasis on recording reasons is that if the decision reveals the ‘inscrutable face of the sphinx,’ it can, by its silence, render it virtually impossible for the courts to perform their appellate function or exercise the power of judicial review in adjudging the validity of the decision.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Pasayat said: “The right to reason is an indispensable part of a sound judicial system, reasons at least sufficient to indicate an application of mind to the matter before court. Another rationale is that the affected party can know why the decision has gone against him. One of the salutary requirements of natural justice is spelling out reasons for the order made, in other words, a speaking out. The ‘inscrutable face of the sphinx’ is ordinarily incongruous with a judicial or quasi-judicial performance.”

In the instant case, a trial court in Himachal Pradesh acquitted Manoj Kumar alias Chhotu of the charge of rape. The High Court dismissed an appeal from the State against this order without giving any reason.

Allowing the State’s appeal against this judgment, the apex court said: “The manner in which the appeal against acquittal has been dealt with by the High Court leaves much to be desired. On the plainest consideration of justice, the High Court ought to have set forth its reasons, howsoever, brief, in its order indicative of an application of its mind.”

Setting aside the impugned order, the Bench directed the High Court to entertain the appeal and dispose it of afresh in accordance with law.

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