Supreme Court Judgments about guidelines for Judiciary


  1. Art. 227 can only be used by the H.C to ensure that the subordinate courts function the limits of their authority but H.C cannot interfere with the judicial functions of a subordinate judge.
  2. S.C would not pass any order under Article 142 which would amount to supplant the substantive law applicable .
  3. The Court should desist from calling senior officers of the government and local and other authorities for all and sundry matters, as that would amount to abuse of judicial power
  4. A judge while imposing sentence, should not be swayed away with any kind of sensational aspect and individual oredilections.
  5. Undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system to undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law
  6. Constant interaction of Judges with scientists, engineers would promote and widen their knowledge to deal with scientific evidence and to effectively deal with criminal cases based on scientific evidence
  7. It would be appropriate that in the judgements, be it of High Court or lower court, the name of the victim should not be indicated. We have chosen to describe her as victim in the judgement
  8. For a democracy to thrive and rule of law to survive, justice system and the judicial process have to be strong and every judge must discharge his judicial functions with integrity, impartiality anf intellectual honesty
  9. A court while imposing sentence, has a duty to respond to the collective cry of the society
  10. The court cannot read any words which are not mentioned in the section nor can substitute any words in place of those mentioned in the section and at the same time cannot ignore the words mentioned in the section
  11. Supreme court guidelines for pronouncement of judgement in case where judgement is being reserved
  12. The law expects the judiciary to be alert while admitting these kind of accused persons to be at large and therefore, the emphasis is on exercise of discretion judiciously and not in a whimsical manner.
  13. A court of law, to reiterate has to be an involved participant in the quest for truth and justice and is not expected only to officiate a formal ritual in a proceeding farseeing an inevitable and signaling travesty of justice
  14. It is trite law that while reversing the judgement the reasons given by the trial court ought to have been taken into consideration along with the entire evidence in that regard
  15. The Appellate Court may not interfere with the finding of the trial court unless the finding recorded by the trial court is erroneous or the trial court ignored the evidence on record.
  16. In a criminal case, the court has a duty to ensure that mere conjectures or suspicion do not take the place of legal proof
  17. Once the election process starts, it would not be proper for the Courts to interfere with the election process.
  18. When two judicial minds sitting together could not concur, that difficulty is to be resolved, ideally. if not on common sense, not by a third one, but by a Bench of larger coram.
  19. Judges ought to be more learned than witty, more reverend than plausible, and more advised than confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue.Let the Judges also remember that Solomon’s throne was supported by lions on both sides: let them be lions, but yet lions under the throne
  20. It is well settled that at the stage of taking cognizance, the court should not  get into the merits of the case made out by the police, in the chargesheet filed by them, with a view to calculate the success rate of prosecution in that particular case. At this stage, the court’s duty is limited to the extent of finding out whether from the material placed before it, offence alleged therein against the accused is made out or not with a view to proceed further with the case
  21. Principles of law enunciated by The Apex Court  relating to the exercise of the extra-ordinary power under Article 226 or the inherent powers under section 482 of the Cr.P.C
  22. The jurisdiction vested in the High Court under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, for quashing criminal proceedings, was held to be exercisable in criminal cases having an overwhelming and predominatingly civil flavour, particularly offences arising from commercial, financial,mercantile, civil, partnership, or such like transactions. Or even offences arising out of matrimony relating to dowry etc. Or family disputes where the wrong is basically private or personal.
  23. Under Article 136 of the Constitution, Supreme Court does not normally reappraise the evidence by itself and go into the question of credibility of witnesses and the assessment of the evidence by the High Court is accepted by the Supreme Court as final unless, of course, the appreciation of evidence and finding is vitiated by any error of law of procedure or found contrary to the principles of natural justice, errors of record and misreading of the evidence, or where the conclusions of the High Court are manifestly perverse and unsupportable from the evidence on record
  24. Judicial discipline demands that when the decision of a co-ordinate Bench of the same High Court is brought to the notice of the Bench, it is respected and is binding, subject of course, to the right to take a different view or to doubt the correctness of the decision and the permissible course then often is to refer the question or the case to a larger Bench.
  25. It is a well-known principle of statutory interpretation that if an interpretation leads to absurdity, the same is to be avoided
  26. A miscarriage of justice that may occur by the acquittal of the guilty is no less than from the conviction of an innocent.
  27. When the wordings of the Statute are clear, no interpretation is required unless there is a requirement of saving the provisions from vice of unconstitutionality or absurdity.
  28. A statute is best interpreted when we know why it was enacted. With this knowledge, the statute must be read, first as a whole and then section by section, clause by clause, phrase by phrase and word by word.
  29. The argument that when a pardon or remission can be given under Article 72 or 161 of the Constitution by the constitutional authority, this Court can exercise the similar power under Article 32 of the Constitution of India is absolutely based on an erroneous premise. Article 32, as has been interpreted and stated by the Constitution Bench and well settled in law, can be only invoked when there is violation of any fundamental right or where the Court takes up certain grievance which falls in the realm of public interest litigation
  30. Under the garb of interpreting the provision, the court does not have the power to add or subtract a single word, as it would not amount to interpretation, but legislation
  31. A Party cannot be refused just relief merely because of some mistake, negligence, inadvertence or even infraction of rule of procedure
  32. Judiciary cannot be a State under Article 12, and while acting on the judicial side the courts are not included in the definition of the State
  33. Whenever the NOTE is appended to the main section, it is explanatory in nature to the main section and explains the true meaning of the main section and has to be read in the context of main section
  34. A finding may also be said to be perverse if it is “against the weight of evidence”, or if the finding so outrageously defies logic as to suffer from the vice of irrationality. (See Balak Ram v. State of U.P., (1975) 3 SCC 219 , Shailendra Pratap v. State of U.P. , (2003) 1 SCC 761, Budh Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 9 SCC 731, S. Rama Krishna v. S. Rami Reddy , (2008) 5 SCC 535,  Arulvelu v. State, (2009) 10 SCC 206, Ram Singh v. State of H.P., (2010) 2 SCC 445 and Babu v. State of Kerala, (2010) 9 SCC 189).
  35. We have large powers and, in appropriate cases, can commit offenders to prison for such period as we think fit and can impose fines of such amount as we may judge right. But just as our powers are large, so ought we, I think, to use them with discretion and with moderation remembering that the only object we have in view is to enforce the due administration of justice for the public benefit
  36. The contempt proceedings being quasi-criminal in nature, the standard of proof requires in the same manner as in other criminal cases. The alleged contemnor is entitled to the protection of all safeguards/rights which are provided in the Criminal Jurisprudence, including the benefit of doubt. There must be a clear-cut case of obstruction of administration of justice by a party intentionally to bring the matter within the ambit of the said provision. The case should not rest only on surmises and conjectures
  37. Suffice it to say, a criminal trial does not singularly centres around the accused. In it there is involvement of the prosecution, the victim and the victim represents the collective. The cry of the collective may not be uttered in decibels which is physically audible in the court premises, but the Court has to remain sensitive to such silent cries and the agonies, for the society seeks justice. Therefore, a balance has to be struck
  38. This Court clarified that though confession may be regarded as evidence in generic sense because of the provisions of Section 30 of the Evidence Act, the fact remains that it is not evidence as defined in Section 3 of the Evidence Act. Therefore, in dealing with a case against an accused, the court cannot start with the confession of a co-accused; it must begin with other evidence adduced by the prosecution and after it has formed its opinion with regard to the quality and effect of the said evidence, then it is permissible to turn to the confession in order to receive assurance to the conclusion of guilt which the judicial mind is about to reach on the said other evidence
  39. The power under Article 142 of the Constitution is a constitutional power and not restricted by statutory enactments. However, this Court would not pass any order under Article 142 which would amount to supplant the substantive law applicable or ignoring statutory provisions dealing with the subject. In other words, acting under Article 142, this Court cannot pass an order or grant relief which is totally inconsistent or goes against the substantive or statutory enactments pertaining to the case
  40. The doctrine of ‘Parens Patriae’ has been evolved in common law and is applied in situations where the State must make decisions in order to protect the interests of those persons who are unable to take care of themselves. Traditionally this doctrine has been applied in cases involving the rights of minors and those persons who have been found to be mentally incapable of making informed decisions for themselves. Courts in other common law jurisdictions have developed two distinct standards while exercising ‘Parens Patriae’ jurisdiction for the purpose of making reproductive decisions on behalf of mentally retarded persons. These two standards are the ‘Best interests’ test and the ‘Substituted judgment’ test
  41. While a Court trying an accused or hearing an appeal against conviction, may not be competent to permit compounding of an offence based on a settlement arrived at between the parties in cases where the offences are not compoundable under Section 320, the High Court may quash the prosecution even in cases where the offences with which the accused stand charged are non-compoundable. The inherent powers of the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. are not for that purpose controlled by Section 320 Cr.P.C
  42. The principles governing dying declaration as summed by the Apex Court
  43. It is imperative if the examination-in-chief is over, the cross-examination should be completed on the same day. If the examination of a witness continues till late hours the trial can be adjourned to the next day for cross-examination. It is inconceivable in law that the cross-examination should be deferred for such a long time. It is anathema to the concept of proper and fair trial. The duty of the court is to see that not only the interest of the accused as per law is protected but also the societal and collective interest is safe-guarded. It is distressing to note that despite series of judgments of this Court, the habit of granting adjournment, really an ailment, continues. How long shall we say, “Awake! Arise!” There is a constant discomfort. Therefore, we think it appropriate that the copies of the judgment be sent to the learned Chief Justices of all the High Courts for circulating the same among the learned trial Judges with a command to follow the principles relating to trial in a requisite manner and not to defer the cross-examination of a witness at their pleasure or at the leisure of the defence counsel, for it eventually makes the trial an apology for trial and compels the whole society to suffer chicanery. Let it be remembered that law cannot allowed to be lonely; a destitute
  44. The principle of ex debito justitiae is founded on a recognition of a debt that the justice delivery system owes to a litigant to correct an error in a judicial dispensation. Its application, by the very nature of things, cannot be made to depend on varying perceptions of legal omissions and commissions but such recognition of the debt which have the potential of opening new vistas of exercise of jurisdiction to relook concluded cases, must rest on surer foundations which have been discerned and expressed in Rupa Ashok Hurra (supra). Frantic cries of injustice founded on perceived erroneous application of law or appreciation of facts will certainly not be enough to extend the frontiers of this jurisdiction.
  45. In our considered view any attempt to explain the law further as regards the issue relating to inherent power of High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. is unwarranted. We would simply reiterate that Section 482 begins with a non-obstante clause to state: “Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.” A fortiori, there can be no total ban on the exercise of such wholesome jurisdiction where, in the words of Krishna Iyer, J. “abuse of the process of the Court or other extraordinary situation excites the court’s jurisdiction. The limitation is self-restraint, nothing more.” We venture to add a further reason in support. Since Section 397 Cr.P.C. is attracted against all orders other than interlocutory, a contrary view would limit the availability of inherent powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. only to petty interlocutory orders! A situation wholly unwarranted and undesirable
  46. Be that as it may, the term compensation has not been defined in the Act of 1988. By interpretative process, it has been understood to mean to recompense the claimants for the possible loss suffered or likely to be suffered due to sudden and untimely death of their family member as a result of motor accident. Two cardinal principles run through the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 in the matter of determination of compensation. Firstly, the measure of compensation must be just and adequate; and secondly, no double benefit should be passed on to the claimants in the matter of award of compensation. Section 168 of the Act of 1988 makes the first principle explicit. Sub-section (1) of that provision makes it clear that the amount of compensation must be just. The word “just” means - fair, adequate, and reasonable. It has been derived from the Latin word “justus”, connoting right and fair. In para 7 of State of Harayana & Anr. vs. Jasbir Kaur & Ors. it has been held that expression “just” denotes that the amount must be equitable, fair, reasonable and not arbitrary. In para 16 of Smt. Sarla Verma & Ors. vs. Delhi Transport Corporation & Anr. , this Court has observed that the compensation “is not intended to be a bonanza, largesse or source of profit”. That however may depend upon facts and circumstances of each case, as to what amount would be a just compensation
  47. A Judge should not perceive a situation in a generalised manner. He ought not to wear a pair of spectacles so that he can see what he intends to see. There has to be a set of facts to express an opinion and that too, within the parameters of law.
  48. Four fundamental principles emerge from the decision of this Court in Renu. The first principle is that Article 235 enables the High Court to exercise complete administrative control over the district judiciary which extends to all functionaries attached to those courts, including ministerial staff and employees on the establishment. The purpose of superintendence would be frustrated if the administrative control of the High Court is not to be exercised over the administrative and ministerial staff. However, the Chief Justice of the High Court as a constitutional functionary is subject to the mandate of Articles 14 and 16. No appointment can be made in contravention of statutory rules. Moreover, the rules themselves must be consistent with constitutional principles.
  49. It is trite that Courts, while exercising their power of judicial review over such matters, do not sit as the appellate authority. Decision qua the nature and quantum is the prerogative of the disciplinary authority. It is not the function of the High Court to decide the same. It is only in exceptional circumstances, where it is found that the punishment/penalty awarded by the disciplinary authority/employer is wholly disproportionate, that too to an extent that it shakes the conscience of the Court, that the Court steps in and interferes.
  50. A suo moto exercise of the nature embarked upon by the High Court encroaches upon the domain of the executive. In a democracy based on the rule of law, government is accountable to the legislature and, through it, to the people. The powers under Article 226 are wide – wide enough to reach out to injustice wherever it may originate. These powers have been construed liberally and have been applied expansively where human rights have been violated. But, the notion of injustice is relatable to justice under the law. Justice should not be made to depend upon the individual perception of a decision maker on where a balance or solution should lie. Judges are expected to apply standards which are objective and well defined by law and founded upon constitutional principle. When they do so, judges walk the path on a road well-travelled. When judicial creativity leads judges to roads less travelled, in search of justice, they have yet to remain firmly rooted in law and the Constitution. The distinction between what lies within and what lies outside the power of judicial review is necessary to preserve the sanctity of judicial power. Judicial power is respected and adhered to in a system based on the rule of law precisely for its nuanced and restrained exercise. If these restraints are not maintained the court as an institution would invite a justifiable criticism of encroaching upon a terrain on which it singularly lacks expertise and which is entrusted for governance to the legislative and executive arms of government. Judgments are enforced, above all, because of the belief which society and arms of governance of a democratic society hold in the sanctity of the judicial process. This sanctity is based on institutional prestige. Institutional authority is established over long years, by a steadfast commitment to a calibrated exercise of judicial power. Fear of consequences is one reason why citizens obey the law as well as judicial decisions. But there are far stronger reasons why they do so and the foundation for that must be carefully preserved. That is the rationale for the principle that judicial review is confined to cases where there is a breach of law or of the Constitution.
  51. It is well settled that the first appellate court shall state the points for determination, the decision thereon and the reasons for decision. However, it is equally well settled that mere omission to frame point/points for determination does not vitiate the judgment of the first appellate court provided that the first appellate court records its reasons based on evidence adduced by both the parties.
  52. The power to punish for contempt vested in a Court of Record under Article 215 does not, however, extend to punishing for the contempt of a superior court. Such a power has never been recognised as an attribute of a court of record nor has the same been specifically conferred upon the High Courts under Article 215. A priori if the power to punish under Article 215 is limited to the contempt of the High Court or courts subordinate to the High Court as appears to us to be the position, there was no way the High Court could justify invoking that power to punish for the contempt of a superior court. That is particularly so when the superior court’s power to punish for its contempt has been in no uncertain terms recognised by Article 129 of the Constitution.
  53. The High Court has rightly pointed out the well settled principle of law that “the court cannot interpret the statute the way they have developed the common law ‘which in a constitutional sense means judicially developed equity'. In abrogating or modifying a rule of the common law the court exercises the same power of creation that built up the common law through its existence by the judges of the past. The court can exercise no such power in respect of statue, therefore, in the task of interpreting and applying a statue, Judges have to be conscious that in the end the statue is the master not the servant of the judgment and no judge has a choice between implementing it and disobeying it.” What, therefore, follows is that the court cannot interpret the law in such a manner so as to read into the Act an inherent power of condoning the delay by invoking Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 so as to supplement the provisions of the VAT Act which excludes the operation of Section 5 by necessary implications.
  54. The case at hand constrains us to say that a trial Judge should remember that he has immense responsibility as he has a lawful duty to record the evidence in the prescribed manner keeping in mind the command postulated in Section 309 of the CrPC and pronounce the judgment as provided under the Code. A Judge in charge of the trial has to be extremely diligent so that no dent is created in the trial and in its eventual conclusion. Mistakes made or errors committed are to be rectified by the appellate court in exercise of “error jurisdiction”. That is a different matter. But, when a situation like the present one crops up, it causes agony, an unbearable one, to the cause of justice and hits like a lightning in a cloudless sky. It hurts the justice dispensation system and no one, and we mean no one, has any right to do so. The High Court by rectifying the grave error has acted in furtherance of the cause of justice. The accused persons might have felt delighted in acquittal and affected by the order of rehearing, but they should bear in mind that they are not the lone receivers of justice. There are victims of the crime. Law serves both and justice looks at them equally. It does not tolerate that the grievance of the victim should be comatosed in this manner.
  55. As would be overwhelmingly pellucid from hereinabove, though words in a statute must, to start with, be extended their ordinary meanings, but if the literal construction thereof results in anomaly or absurdity, the courts must seek to find out the underlying intention of the legislature and in the said pursuit, can within permissible limits strain the language so as to avoid such unintended mischief.
  56. We may also add that the law is well settled that superior courts while exercising their power of judicial review must act with restraint while dealing with contractual matters. A Three Judge Bench of this Court in Tata Cellular vs. Union of India held that (i) there should be judicial restraint in review of administrative action; (ii) the court should not act like court of appeal; it cannot review the decision but can only review the decision making process (iii) the court does not usually have the necessary expertise to correct such technical decisions.; (iv) the employer must have play in the joints i.e., necessary freedom to take administrative decisions within certain boundaries.
  57. It is a well-settled principle that the High Court will not re-appreciate the evidence but will only see whether there is evidence in support of the impugned conclusion. The court has to take the evidence as it stands and its only limited jurisdiction is to examine, whether on the evidence, the conclusion could have been arrived at. (See - Union of India v. H.C. Goel)
  58. Liberal access to justice does not mean access to chaos and indiscipline. A strong message must be conveyed that courts of justice will not be allowed to be disrupted by litigative strategies designed to profit from the delays of the law. Unless remedial action is taken by all courts here and now our society will breed a legal culture based on evasion instead of abidance. It is the duty of every court to firmly deal with such situations. The imposition of exemplary costs is a necessary instrument which has to be deployed to weed out, as well as to prevent the filing of frivolous cases. It is only then that the courts can set apart time to resolve genuine causes and answer the concerns of those who are in need of justice. Imposition of real time costs is also necessary to ensure that access to courts is available to citizens with genuine grievances. Otherwise, the doors would be shut to legitimate causes simply by the weight of undeserving cases which flood the system. Such a situation cannot be allowed to come to pass. Hence it is not merely a matter of discretion but a duty and obligation cast upon all courts to ensure that the legal system is not exploited by those who use the forms of the law to defeat or delay justice. We commend all courts to deal with frivolous filings in the same manner
  59. Directions made by Apex Court for Speeding up disposal of cases.
  60. One cannot ignore the problem faced by a husband if proceedings are transferred on account of genuine difficulties faced by the wife. The husband may find it difficult to contest proceedings at a place which is convenient to the wife. Thus, transfer is not always a solution acceptable to both the parties. It may be appropriate that available technology of video conferencing is used where both the parties have equal difficulty and there is no place which is convenient to both the parties. We understand that in every district in the country video conferencing is now available. In any case, wherever such facility is available, it ought to be fully utilized and all the High Courts ought to issue appropriate administrative instructions to regulate the use of video conferencing for certain category of cases. Matrimonial cases where one of the parties resides outside court’s jurisdiction is one of such categories. Wherever one or both the parties make a request for use of video conference, proceedings may be conducted on video conferencing, obviating the needs of the party to appear in person. In several cases, this Court has directed recording of evidence by video conferencing.
  61. In this regard, we may usefully refer to a passage from Kalabharati Advertising v. Hemant Vimalnath Narichania and others20, wherein it has been ruled that the maxim actus curiae neminem gravabit, which means that the act of the court shall prejudice no one, becomes applicable when a situation is projected where the court is under an obligation to undo the wrong done to a party by the act of the court. In a case, where any undeserved or unfair advantage has been gained by a party invoking the jurisdiction of the court, and the same requires to be neutralized, the said maxim is to be made applicable.
  62. It is a settled principle of law that the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the second appeal only on the substantial question of law framed under Section 100(5) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter referred to as “the Code”). Equally well settled principle of law is that the High Court has no jurisdiction to decide the appeal on the question which is not framed as required under Section 100(4) of the Code.
  63. Supreme court guidelines in issuing non-bailable warrants

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