Law

Mind Your Language, Judge Sahab, a Badly Written Judgment Can Now Be Overturned

In reversing a Himachal Pradesh high court order, the Supreme Court is saying that not only must justice be done and seen to be done but it must also be … understood.

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The Himachal Pradesh high court’s judgment left the Supreme Court judges befuddled. Credit: Titash Sen

New Delhi: If you were told that the Supreme Court had set aside a high court’s order for poor English, would you believe it? Though the highest court’s use of language has not always been exemplary, so awful was the phrasing of a recent judgment of the Himachal Pradesh high court that the bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta was compelled to set it aside.

In a fairly mundane case where the high court ruled against a landlord who wanted to evict his tenant, the judgment was well-nigh incomprehensible.

“After hearing learned counsel, it is not possible to comprehend the contents of the impugned order passed by the high court. The order passed by the high court is, therefore, set aside and the matter is remanded to the high court for fresh consideration on merits,” the Supreme Court said.

A peculiar turn of events at the honourable Supreme Court, but perhaps justified considering this gobbledygook:

“(The)…tenant in the demised premises stands aggrieved by the pronouncement made by the learned Executing Court upon his objections constituted therebefore…wherewithin the apposite unfoldments qua his resistance to the execution of the decree stood discountenanced by the learned Executing Court”.

It is difficult to say at this point, whether the landlord petitioned the Supreme Court because he was disgruntled by the high court’s judgment and would not accept it, or, because he was befuddled by its incomprehensible reasoning.

The appellant has been fighting for his house since November 1999 – 18 years now – only to be rewarded by an order that not only went against him, but also reads like, well, gibberish. In 2011, the court had given him a warrant of possession (a presumably lucid one), but the tenant could only be partially evicted from the property. Then in 2016, the court, in several convoluted turns of phrase, decided in favour of the tenant. We think – and we can’t quite be sure – because the landlord had apparently received the agreed rent amount.

However, this otherwise unremarkable case now seems to have turned in the appellant’s favour. Surrendering to the unintelligibility of Justice Sureshwar Thakur’s high court order, the Supreme Court set it aside – which means that the 2011 decision that allowed eviction, will prevail until the high court reopens the case. By all accounts, the appellant’s lawyers have gained the most, now that they have been relieved of the burden of having to decipher the order. One wonders, as an aside, how many billable hours went into them trying to make sense of the judgment in the first place.

Reproduced here are some choice extracts from the Himachal Pradesh high court’s judgment.

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“The declining of the aforesaid relief to  the  plaintiffs by  the  learned trial  Court  is not  ridden with  any inherent procedural fallacy  given  the  plaintiffs without begetting apposite amendments in  the  plaint by  instituting  therebefore an application under  Order  6  Rule  17  CPC  theirs   merely  making therebefore an  oral  submission for  the  according of  the  apposite relief  to them,  oral  relief  whereof naturally warranted its standing declined as  tenably declined  by  the  learned trial  Court. Also evidence, if any, in consonance therewith  for  hence  a  decree   of mandatory injunction standing pronounced upon the  defendants was wholly discardable it naturally being beyond pleadings.”

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“In   sequel    thereto  finality   besides  conclusivity stands imputed to  the  findings recorded by  the  learned first  Appellate Court qua  the  relevant factum probandum of the  defendants’ not warranting vis-à-vis  them  any rendition of any decree  of mandatory injunction arising from theirs  during the pendency of the suit before the learned trial Court  or during the pendency of the suit before  the learned First  Appellate Court  raising obstructions on  the  path  by stacking  material  thereupon  whereby  the   user   of  path   by  the plaintiffs   depicted   in    the    decree    of   permanent   prohibitory injunction besides embodied in tatima Ex.PW-1/A stood  fully forestalled besides thwarted.”

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“For   pronouncing  an   efficacious    decision  upon  the aforesaid facet imperatively when obviously the  bar of res judicata besets  the plaintiffs against theirs  instituting a fresh  suit against the defendants vis-à-vis   the  aforesaid relief  preponderantly  when it accrued earlier  whereat it stood  un-ventilated by the plaintiffs significantly when  they   omitted  to  avail   the   apposite  statutory mechanism whereupon they  stand forestalled besides interdicted to in a freshly  constituted suit  canvass a relief  for its removal by the defendants comprised in the latters  standing mandatorily injuncted to  remove it  whereupon the  act  of  the  defendants comprised in theirs  obstructing the path  decreed for user  by the plaintiffs would hence  stand rendered  un-redeemed, ought to  not  be  necessarily borne  in mind.”

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Eventually, Justice Sureshwar Thakur of the Himachal Pradesh high court concludes:

“For facilitating its consummation, though the learned executing Court stood enjoined to pronounce an appropriate order, contrarily it   by relegating the  impact   of  the aforesaid germane factum probandum comprised in the enforceable executable conclusive decree,  has  inaptly dismissed the  execution petition.”