It is undisputed that Cut, Copy & Paste is a laudable method for reducing
transcription errors in copying written arguments, citations and quotations in
the judgments of the Courts.
However, a problem arises when it is used to lift
verbatim earlier orders/arguments and pass judgments/orders without application
of mind and without giving proper reasons for passing the order forgetting that
judgment and fact-finding are solely in the province of the court. Decisions are
evidence of judicial thinking & astute/prudent reasoning.
It is true that the
mechanics of judicial writing and the high volume of work compel repeating,
recycling and restating findings of fact and conclusions of law but the same
cannot be violative of “independent decision-making/ judicial reasoning.
It is common knowledge that the Officers in State/ Central administration, the
Assessing Officers under Direct & Indirect Taxes, Subordinate Judiciary, the
various Tribunals & sometimes even the High Court indulge in passing orders
using 'cut & paste' technology bereft of application of mind & judicial
reasoning making the orders illegal & unsustainable. The Apex Court recently on
March 5, 2021 in Civil Appeal No 821 of 2021 in the case of Union Public Service
Commission vs. Bibhu Prasad Sarangi and others
has cautioned against misuse of
the ' Cut & Paste Technology' thereby making the orders susceptible to being
struck down for non- application of mind.
The brief facts of the case are the appellant UPSC had filed a Writ Petition
under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the order of the Central
Administrative Tribunal (CAT) wherein the Tribunal had directed the appellant to
reconsider the case of the respondent for promotion to the IAS for vacancies for
2015, 2016 & 2017 and to grant consequential benefits.
While passing the
impugned order the High Court just extracted portions of the judgment of the
Tribunal and concluded that the Tribunal has elaborately discussed the law”
while issuing directions. The High Court finally held that the Tribunal has not
committed any jurisdictional error and no interference is warranted.
The Apex Court was irked that there has been no independent application of mind
& judicial reasoning to the controversy by the High Court & observed in strong
words & warned the courts thus:
Cutting, copying and pasting from the judgment of the Tribunal, which is placed
in issue before the High Court, may add to the volume of the judgment. The size
of judicial output does not necessarily correlate to a reasoned analysis of the
core issues in a case. Technology enables judges to bring speed, efficiency and
accuracy to judicial work. But a prolific use of the ‘cut-copy-paste’ function
should not become a substitute for substantive reasoning which, in the ultimate
analysis, is the defining feature of the judicial process.
The Apex Court realized that Judges are hard pressed for time as Judiciary is
facing acute shortage of judicial officers with fewer fresh appointments, the
ever increasing vacancies and mounting huge pendency in all Courts clogging the
entire Judicial System. However, the Apex Court reprimanded the High Court for
not giving a 'Reasoned Judgment' and held that Reasoning is the very soul of a
good Judgment & held thus:
Crisp reasoning is perhaps the answer. Doing what the High Court has done in the
present case presents a veneer of judicial reasoning, bereft of the substance
which constitutes the heart of the judicial process. Reasons constitute the soul
of a judicial decision. Without them one is left with a shell. The shell
provides neither solace nor satisfaction to the litigant. We are constrained to
make these observations since what we have encountered in this case is no longer
an isolated aberration. This has become a recurring phenomenon.
The Apex Court went on to direct the National Judicial Academy, which imparts
training to the subordinate judiciary to take up the job and instill the
Judicial virtues of ' Reasoning & Communication Skills' as how judges
communicate in their judgments is a defining characteristic of the judicial
The Court asserted that the judges ought to be trained for both
disposal and quality of Judgment as ''the quality of justice brings legitimacy
to the judiciary.
The Apex Court, holding the High Court having not passed the
judgment as a reasoned order which suffered from non-application of mind, set
aside the impugned judgment and order of the High Court.
It would be trite to refer to the case of the Apex Court in the case of The
Secretary & Curator, Victoria Memorial v. Howrah Ganatantrik Nagrik Samity and
., JT 2010(2)SC 566 which categorically held that an order without valid
reasons cannot be sustained as to give reasons is the rule of natural justice.
Highlighting this rule the Court at para 31 to 33 observed as under:
31. It is a settled legal proposition that not only administrative but also
judicial order must be supported by reasons, recorded in it. Thus, while
deciding an issue, the Court is bound to give reasons for its conclusion. It is
the duty and obligation on the part of the Court to record reasons while
disposing of the case.
The hallmark of an order and exercise of judicial power
by a judicial forum is to disclose its reasons by itself and giving of reasons
has always been insisted upon as one of the fundamentals of sound administration
justice - delivery system, to make known that there had been proper and due
application of mind to the issue before the Court and also as an essential
requisite of principles of natural justice. The giving of reasons for a decision
is an essential attribute of judicial and judicious disposal of a matter before
Courts, and which is the only indication to know about the manner and quality of
exercise undertaken, as also the fact that the Court concerned had really
applied its mind.
- Vide State of Orissa Vs. Dhaniram Luhar (JT 2004(2) SC 172 and
- State of Rajasthan Vs. Sohan Lal & Ors. JT 2004 (5) SCC 338:2004 (5) SCC
32. Reason is the heartbeat of every conclusion. It introduces clarity in an
order and without the same, it becomes lifeless. Reasons substitute subjectivity
by objectivity. Absence of reasons renders the order indefensible/unsustainable
particularly when the order is subject to further challenge before a higher
- Vide Raj Kishore Jha Vs. State of Bihar & Ors. AIR 2003 SC 4664;
Dev Sharma Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors. (2008) 3 SCC 172;
- Steel Authority
of India Ltd. Vs. Sales Tax Officer, Rourkela I Circle & Ors. (2008) 9 SCC
- State of Uttaranchal & Anr. Vs. Sunil Kumar Singh Negi AIR 2008 SC 2026;
- U.P.S.R.T.C. Vs. Jagdish Prasad Gupta AIR 2009 SC 2328;
- Ram Phal Vs. State of
Haryana & Ors. (2009) 3 SCC 258;
- Mohammed Yusuf Vs. Faij Mohammad & Ors. (2009)
3 SCC 513; and
- State of Himachal Pradesh Vs. Sada Ram & Anr. (2009) 4 SCC 422
33. Thus, it is evident that the recording of reasons is principle of natural
justice and every judicial order must be supported by reasons recorded in
writing. It ensures transparency and fairness in decision making. The person who
is adversely affected may know, as why his application has been rejected.
It is relevant that Non recording of reasons renders the order unsustainable.
The Apex Court in the case of Chandana Impex Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Commissioner of
New Delhi , 2011(269)E.L.T. 433 (S.C.) (para 8) has held as under :
8..............the High Court should have examined each question formulated in
the appeal with reference to the material taken into consideration by the
Tribunal in support of its finding thereon and given its reasons for holding
that question is not a substantial question of law. It needs to be emphasised
that every litigant, who approaches the court for relief is entitled to know the
reason for acceptance or rejection of his prayer, particularly when either of
the parties to the lis has a right of further appeal. Unless the litigant is
made aware of the reasons which weighed with the court in denying him the relief
prayed for, the remedy of appeal will not be meaningful. It is that reasoning,
which can be subjected to examination at the higher forums.''
It is apposite to refer to the Apex Court in State of Orissa Vs. Dhaniram Luhar
5 SCC 568 wherein the Apex Court reiterating that reason is the heart beat of
every conclusion and without the same; it becomes lifeless, observed thus:
8.......Right to reason is an indispensable part of a sound judicial system;
reasons at least sufficient to indicate an application of mind to the matter
before court. Another rationale is that the affected party can know why the
decision has gone against him. It is relevant that in State of U.P. v. Battan
(2001) 10 SCC 607, the Apex Court held as under:(SCC p.608, para 4)
4.The High Court has not given any reasons for refusing to grant leave to file
appeal against acquittal. ...The manner in which appeal against acquittal has
been dealt with by the High Court leaves much to be desired. Reasons introduce
clarity in an order. On plainest consideration of justice, the High Court ought
to have set forth its reasons, howsoever brief, in its order. The absence of
reasons has rendered the High Court order not sustainable.
This judgment of the Apex Court is a warning to the judges/ officers who do not
give reasoning behind their Judgments/ Orders. For any order to be sustained in
judicial hierarchy, it is imperative that it should be based on Proper Reasoning
& should necessarily be a 'Speaking Order'.
Written By: Inder Chand Jain
Ph no: 8279945021, Email: [email protected]