Md Raisul Islam Sourav :
All the world over true peace depends not upon gunpowder but upon pure justice" Mahatma Gandhi
The writing of a judgment is one of the most important tasks among other activities performed by a judge. Very recently a debate has been arising in our country whether a judge can write verdict after retirement. However, neither the Constitution nor the Supreme Court of Bangladesh Rules (both High Court Division and Appellate Division) have any clear cut provision regarding the timeframe to write a judgment. Indeed in this country there is no time limit to finish the writing of a judgment It totally depends upon the discretion to the concerned judge. Never-theless it is a time consuming task and it takes major part of judge's work. Moreover, backlog of cases has put a great pressure on the judges to accomplish their duties timely.
The judgment writing offers occasions for judicial officers to express his/her own ability and his/her worthiness to be a member in the high tradition of moral integrity and social rutility. The judgment is also a reflection of the conscience of a judge, who writes it and evidences his impartiality, integrity and intellectual honesty. However, a judgment is not written only for the benefit of the parties concerned. It is also written for the benefit of legal profession, other judges and the appellate courts ultimately. Before scripting a judgment a judge must consider that he is performing a public act of communicating his opinion on the issues brought before him and after the trial by observing fair procedures. It is basically a communication to the parties coming before him for a decision.
However, there is a golden saying that "Judgment delayed is judgment denied".
It is perfectly understandable that litigants should expect to know of the outcome of their cases and the reasons behind it as soon as practically possible. Depending on a number of factors, including time, constraints, the nature of the evidence led and the complexity of the matter, both in terms of facts or the applicable law and the importance and urgency of the case, one is expected to deliver a judgment soon after the case is finalised.
However, it be comes a custom in our country that judge pronounces the decision in open court immediately after completing the trial processes and delivering detail judgment at his own convenience even after retirement. It is expected by all that no judge should delaying in deliver his judgment.
However, a judge may seat for hearing till his last day of service which makes the thing difficult. Problem arises when a judge pronounced his/her decision during his tenure and giving detail verdict at a latter time after his service period. Due to absence of any clear cut provision, a question has arisen whether it is legal.
There is no law or judgment on this particular matter. Nevertheless unreasonable delay may bring severe consequences for the justice seekers even it can frustrate the outcome.
Invariably this result in inordinate delays and worse may result in the judicial officer not being able to recall the reasons which prompted him/her to make the order that he/she made.
Now question comes whether a retired judge can handle public document.
The answer to this question is not too easy. Generally he cannot. But what happen if it requires to give the full judgment what s/he declared earlier? Again there is no law or ruling on this point.
Though he announced his decision and needs to show his contention hence he may be permitted to do it within possible shortest time unless contrary is being enacted hy the parliament or settled by the court. Otherwise, many of the earlier landmark decisions will become invalid.
Additionally, a Supreme Court judge has some embargo even after his retirement. So mere retirement may not ceasing his capacity to write judgment. Furthermore, in this particulars case, he only deals with the documents relating with his given decision which is necessary to accomplish the whole process of justice.
If one is not allowed to do it then something must be invented to give redress to the justice seekers.
On the contrary, in some exceptional cases, a judge may not being able to reach his/her decision without being conversant with the matter appropriately. In that case he may take time to declare his decision. However, in Anil Ray vs State of Bihar AIR (2001) SC 3173 the Indian Supreme Court held that as the pronouncement of the judgement is a part of justice dispensation system, it has to be without delay and the court bind the time limit to three months to deliver judgment. In addition, it suggested some ways to the Chief Justice of India to make the process speedier. Similarly our Chief Justice can take necessary steps to make it binding to deliver judgment within possible shortest time.
However, according to Justice Sunil. Ambwani of Allahabad High Court, India; there is a difference between neutrality and impartiality. Impartiality requires cool reason uncontaminated thinking without being influenced by personal commitments biases and preconceptions. The neutrality on the other hand means the judge is non-aligned. A Judge may being neutral and continue to be so in the process of the trial, but at the end he has to decide the case in favour of either of the parties without any partiality. Impartiality requires a judge to rise above all values and perspectives.
(Assistant Professor and Coordinator, Department of Law at Dhaka International University)