This article is written by Pranav Sethi, from SVKM NMIMS School of law, Navi Mumbai. This article elaborates analysis of the language of the courts in light of the case of the State of Maharashtra v. Mahadu Dagdu Shinde.
The statement made by the judge based on a decree or order is known as a judgment. It is the culmination of the Court’s proceedings. One of the most significant and time-consuming tasks done by a judge is the formulation of a ruling. The process of formulating and writing a judgment, as well as the manner where it is written, differs from judge to judge and represents a judge’s personality.
Every judge, regardless of position, has a particular writing style. A judgment differs from a formal order in that it provides grounds for concluding. In the United States, it’s known as an “opinion,” which is a judge’s justification for the final order requested or issued. Language can be used to manipulate and mislead people in social situations. Linguistic in court, utterances are frequently utilized or abused for the benefit of the defense or the prosecution.
It is the writing style of a judge that makes it different from other judgments and will either result in setting up good precedents or dangerous precedents. While judgment writing is in itself an art, it is also to be kept in mind that a judge should not be biased in his opinion or make any “slang remarks” in their judgments.
Writing a long and verbose decision with unregulated terms and citations is no longer acceptable. The pressures of work and stress that most judges face today necessitate the development of abilities in writing judgments that are concise, simple, and unambiguous without sacrificing quality.
In civil cases, judgments can be divided into two groups based on the requirements of the law: long and short judgments. The conclusion of a case in original litigation necessitates the production of a long and reasoned ruling. While in this article, we analyze the judgment delivered by a trial court in the case of State of Maharashtra v. Mahadu Dagdu Shinde.
Lord Mansfield (Chief Justice of King’s Bench for 32 years) viewpoint on language usage in courts
“Most of the world’s disputes arise from words,” observed Lord Mansfield (AD 1705-93), Chief Justice of King’s Bench for 32 years. Great concerns of concept may depend on the interpretation of a single syllable, and precious privileges and concerns may be compromised as a result. The faults and inexactitude of language as a vehicle of concepts contribute to the difficulties of interpretation. The indiscriminate use of the conjunctive “and” and the disjunctive “or” has sparked many debates, and Jeremy Bentham (AD 1748-1832-famous as one of the founders of English law) “devotes some severe criticism to the complexities of the latter monosyllable.”
The words “may” and “shall” have nearly their own legal literature’ (Davenport 112). Many attempts have been made to determine the meaning of the word “accident” in the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Human language is insufficient to deal with all possible scenarios. Even when written procedures are prepared by highly qualified individuals who are fluent in the English language, their main purpose is frequently questioned. Difficulties in its actual use may also arise, which might be compounded by a careless or incompetent draftsman.
Indian courts’ language
The main languages of the Indian courts are “Hindi” and “English,” which are used in most of the Indian judicial system. The official language of the Supreme Court of India, the country’s highest judicial institution, is “English.” The High Courts of various states also use English as their functioning language although the constitution allows for the use of “Hindi” or any other language if the governor, with the approval of the President of India, authorizes it. Regional languages are typically utilized in lower courts, but the state government has the authority to use any language by promulgating an act if it believes it is necessary for the plaintiffs.
The issue of the Supreme Court’s language is addressed in Article 348 of the Indian Constitution. It establishes English as the Supreme Court of India’s official language unless the Parliament specifies otherwise by law. After the passage of Article 349, the Parliament is no longer allowed to make any form of the provision regarding the change of language, which is specified under Article 348(1) as English is the language of the Supreme Court after the Constitution of India has been in force for 15 years. However, this clause does not apply to judgments, orders, or decrees, which must be issued in English alone.
As stated in Clause (1) of Article 348, the language used for the High Courts is English. Clause (2), on the other hand, specifies that the governor can approve the use of Hindi or any other language for High Court sessions with the President’s assent.
A provision additionally states that nothing in Article applies to any decision, decree, or order of the High Courts, implying that the judgments will only be delivered in English. With the President’s assent, the Governor can approve the use of Hindi/another language under Section 7 of the Official Languages Act, 1963. If a judgment, order, or decree is issued in Hindi or another language, it must be followed with English translations.
Until the state government decides otherwise, the language of all courts subordinate to High Courts is essentially the very same as it was when the Civil Procedure Code was first enacted in 1908. In Subordinate courts, two regulations are addressing judgment of language.
The language of the district courts must be equivalent to the language of the act, according to Section 137 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The state government has the authority to proclaim any regional language as a substitute for judicial proceedings. The magistrate may, nevertheless, issue judgments, orders, and decrees in English. The recording of the evidence must be conducted in the state’s official language.
If a pleader is unfamiliar with English, a translation into the court’s language will be provided upon his request, and the court will cover the costs. The language of all courts other than the High Courts must be determined by the State government, according to Section 272 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973. Therefore, in general terms, it means that district courts must employ the regional language as directed by the state government.
Indian legal situation
In the Indian judicial system, offence there are two categories of law that are applied in the courts. The Substantive Law, which may be established in statute books and precedents, serves as the foundation. In light of the statutes, which have been developed by professionals, the legislature assumes the management of public affairs.
The judge describes how the law applies to the specific scenario in the lawsuit in front of him at the judicial level. The language employed in the decision is intended to be straightforward and authoritative. Lord Denning, one of the twentieth century’s legal luminaries, has employed language that is so precise that even a novice may deduce the intent and reach a firm conclusion.
The practical process that occurs at various levels in a court of law is referred to as procedural law. The legal record comes into play at each stage through the channel of its members. Drafting is the first step in the legal registration process – ‘making a rough copy of a legal document before endorsing it’. Many cases originate from documents written in a particular professional terminology. Agreements, gift deeds, sale deeds, mortgage deeds, and testamentary dispositions are examples. The intentions of both parties, who have agreed together on the terms that would bind them, are examined when trying to frame a contract of agreement.
There is consensus ad idem, as the saying goes. The court relies on the written words or the oral statements of the parties. The wording used in these documents gives rise to specific and desirable meanings for a lawyer. As a result, while writing, the meaning of words and phrases becomes increasingly important.
The aggrieved individual next addresses the court with pleadings, which are “written statements submitted by both sides to a civil action stating out the reasons each will be bringing forth during the trial or of advocating a client’s case viva-voce in court” (McFarlane). A plaint – “a document through the presentation of which a suit is initiated in a civil court” (Mukherjee and Singh) or petition is drafted, detailing the facts and grounds for approaching the court and ending with a prayer for a decree – a judicial decision that the court may grant.
The State of Maharashtra v. Mahadu Dagdu Shinde
The Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad Bench recently ruled in the State of Maharashtra v. Mahadu Dagdu Shinde that even a rape victim’s intentional sexual intercourse involving someone else is irrelevant in determining a rape charge.
Facts of the case
The State brought an appeal before the Hon’ble Court, appealing the judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge, Kopargaon, in Sessions Case No.19 of 2010, which was presented on August 14, 2012.
In this case, a bench of Justices Ravindra V Ghuge and BU Debadwar refused to consider the fact that the plaintiff was habituated to sexual intercourse, according to a doctor’s declaration, after her spouse left her. The case had a 52-year-old man being accused of rape by his brother’s daughter-in-law. The accused was cleared of the allegations by the Sessions Court.
In the beginning, the Hon’ble Court expressed its “great concern” with the Hon’ble Additional Sessions Judge’s repetitive usage of a particular word. While presenting the prosecutrix’s evidence, as well as in the body of the judgment. Given the lack of medical evidence and no bangle pieces located at the crime scene, the Hon’ble Court ruled that the prosecutrix’s statement of having received injuries as a result of the breaking of the bangles was false.
The accused was found not guilty of the charges brought against him under Sections 376 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The prosecutrix claimed that the accused, her cousin’s father-in-law, had performed an offence punishable under Indian Penal Code Section 376.
The prosecutrix’s head had no injury or bump, there were no semen stains on her clothes, and she had no injuries on her thighs or legs, according to the Court. The Court further noted that her claim that she slapped the defendant was unsupported by medical evidence, as there was no slap imprint or abrasions on his face.
The Hon’ble Court also highlighted that, even though the prosecutrix’s Marathi form of her testimony indicated specific Marathi phrases she used, the Hon’ble Trial Court used unpleasant words repeatedly when recording the English version of her testimony.
This appeal was denied because the prosecution was unable to recognize the case above a reasonable question. The High Court additionally highlighted that the trial court was using the “slang term” several times in this case. According to the High Court, “These words are used in slang language, are treated to be foul words, and are utterly disrespectful to women.”
The Court put forward that, “The Prosecutor was unable to convince it that though the prosecutrix does not have a single abrasion on her body and her entire narration of several injuries as noted above, have been proved to be false, we could still arrive at a conclusion that the accused and the accused alone, had committed the offense.”
Additionally, considering the Supreme Court’s recent judgment in the case of State of Odisha vs. Banabihari Mohapatra and others on February 12, 2021, that suspicion, no matter how strong, cannot be an alternative for concrete evidence.“Suspicion can never take place of proof and the court cannot base it’s the order of conviction based on suspicion“, observed the Court.
It’s always been seen that the judiciary is one such pillar of democracy that must deliver justice to people promptly. If Justice is gonna reflect vulgar remarks about women then it’s gonna result in setting up dangerous precedents because as rightly said, “justice is to be served but it should also, be recognized by the audience in the courtroom”.
The judgment must be prepared and arranged in such a way that readers can easily and rapidly navigate through it. There isn’t such a thing as excellent writing. Only excellent rewriting exists. It is imperative that the ruling be revised.
A revised judgment corrects flaws and assures the Judge that his ruling is correct. Judges should read their decisions after a few years to guarantee that the same mistakes are not made again. There’s always something that can be done better.
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