By : Sumit Nagpal
Never thought that people would be so much interested to know about an aspect which is just a normal procedural thing for all who are associated with court proceeding. Yes! I am talking about court reserving the judgments.
When the bench of Justice G S Singhvi and Justice A K Ganguli reserved its verdict on the petition filed by Subramaniun Swamy asking for a CBI inquiry against the Home Minister P Chidambaram for his alleged role in 2G scam, I was flodded with queries on twitter. People wanted to know why couldn't the court decide the matter the same day? Someone asked what does it mean when we say the judgment has been reserved? I even tried responding to few but gave up as never ending queries were pouring in. So finally writing this to clear the doubts on courts reserving judgments.
Q : What does it mean that the court has reserved its judgment?
A : When a court reserves the judgment, it means the matter has been kept in abeyance for a while. This is done after all the parties have completed their arguments and all the written submissions have been filed in the court.
Q: Why do judges reserve a judgment?
A : The judges reserve a judgment so they can write a judgment. One must understand that a judgment is not a single page order of few lines, the judgment contains the summery of arguments of both the parties, the law of the land, previous judgments on the issue, conclusion and the reasons for arriving on that conclusion. Judges need time to refresh in their memory, the arguments of each party, do research by reading previous judgments and judgments on similar issues in other countries and finally think about the reasons for arriving on a particular conclusion. This entire excersise is very laborious and time consuming.
Q : What is the normal timeframe in which a judgment should ideally be delivered?
A : There is no fixed timeframe for the judges to write judgments but six months is considered to be a reasonable time for passing a judgment. If a judge keeps a judgment reserved for more than six months, any of the party can mention to the Chief Justice about this.
Q : What happens to a reserved judgment if the judge retires?
A : If anything like this happens, the new bench will hear the matter afreash. A judge can not sign/pronounce a judgment after he retires.
Q : Is it necessary for a judge to reserve judgment in every case?
A : No! Its not at all necessary for a judge to reserved judgment in all the cases. Generally the court reserved judgments in cases of extreme public importance, cases which will have greater impact on the polity of India, cases in whcih the courts are laying down some new law etc. In many cases, judges deliver the same day the arguments are complete.
I have tried to answer most of the questions about courts reserving judgments. If anyone of you still feels there is something left, please leave a comment, I will answer that also.