“Lower judiciary should avoid evocative verdicts”

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“Touch the chord of a layman” by drafting simple judgements.

This was the suggestion given by Supreme Court Judge, Justice AK Sikri, to his colleagues, especially those in the lower judiciary.

Justice AK Sikri

Addressing a session at the ongoing Kumaon Literary Festival in Ramnagar in Uttarakhand, he suggested that the lower judiciary should draft simple judgements as they may lack the requisite expertise for using evocative language which ought to be used only by senior judges of high courts and the apex court.

“The law is meant for others as well. And it is about how you play with words. When we are wanting for words, poetry, film become convenient. It will touch the chord of a reader, a layman. Literature must be used only to forcefully convey an idea,” Justice Sikri said.

“Make it (evocative language) a tool, but don’t be swallowed by it. Judges at the lower level should avoid it as they may not have the expertise. A judgement should be said in a perfect manner,” he said.

The Supreme Court judge was deliberating on the topic ‘From legal literature to literature in law: Changing contours of judicial opinion’ during a session titled ‘My Lords, I Rest My Case!’ in the 2016 edition of the festival.

He said that evocative literary references must be used sparingly and only when trying to accentuate a judgement.

Sikri said that evocative language must be used only by senior judges of the High Court and Supreme court.

The session was aimed at discussing how the intersection between law and literature in judicial pronouncements ended up becoming judgements by the thesaurus, instead of being elucidative and illuminative.

Sikri explained the pitfalls of such an approach and pitched for making judgements easier to understand.

“The judgement is not meant only for lawyers. When a legal principle is laid down, that may be relevant not only for lawyers but also for other cases, because it becomes a precedent. The judgement is meant for litigants because it is their dispute. Sometimes a larger community is also interested. Judgement is more so for them as well,” he said.

Explaining the dangers of a judgement becoming too wordy, senior lawyer and Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi illustrated the point by referring to a paragraph in Justice Dipak Misra’s recent verdict in the case of Subramanian Swamy vs Union of India.

Giving an example when judgements become too emotive and descend into hyperbole, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde pointed to the bail order granted to Kanhaiya Kumar where the judge started with the lyrics of the song “Mere desh ki dharti”.

“We have to use examples as pivots and as our servants.

But many times we end up with judgement by thesaurus,” Hegde said.

(With PTI inputs)

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