Sunday 28 September 2014

Time has come for brief arguments in Courts

I used to tell all lawyers in my Court, senior or junior, to be brief in their arguments. I said that I was not trying to gag or muzzle the lawyers, but with the huge number of arrears ( 31 million) in our country's law courts, is it fair that one case drags on for days, weeks, and even months ?

 I could, of course, keep hearing one case for days on end, and my salary and perks would remain unaffected, but would that be fair to other lawyers and litigants waiting for their turn ? Should their cases never be taken up ?

One brother Judge with whom I sat said that the Supreme Court was the last Court for a litigant, so we should give him a full hearing. I replied that it was the last court for all litigants, not just the litigant appearing before us. If all litigants were given a ' full hearing ', most of the cases pending in the Courts would never be heard.

So I would tell lawyers " Be brief, be bright, and be off ! "
Sometimes a long winded lawyer would ramble on and on with his arguments. I would then tell him of an anecdote which President Abraham Lincoln would relate ( he often related anecdotes ).
 There was this preacher in a certain church who would begin a sermon, but forget to end it. On and on he went, with the people in church tottering, reeling and falling asleep, but the preacher would not relent, so determined was he to save their souls.

 I would tell the lawyer that he reminded me of that preacher ! This was usually enough to make him come directly to the point, instead of beating around the bush or repeating what he had said before.
 But there are several patient Judges in our country ( I was not one of them ) who believe in giving a ' full hearing ' to litigants

1 comment:

  1. I respectfully but very strongly disagree with your view because in my view there should not be any dilution of quality in the judicial system of a nation. The pendency of cases should be addressed by the Parliament by making the provision in law for appointing more judges and establishing more courts, by simplifying laws and properly using the modern technology. Indian Supreme Court should have at least 350 judges instead of just 30. In Australia there are 7 judges in their apex court which means that 2 crore divided by 7 = 2857142. In other words there is one judge in the apex court of Australia per about 28 Lakh people. In contrast in India there is only one judge per about 40 million people in Indian Supreme Court! Even in Pakistan there is one judge per 10 million people in their Supreme Court. This is very shameful for India and it has to change.