Monday, October 24, 2016

Saumya case: SC order, a fallout of judges' workload, says Katju

NEW DELHI: Supreme Court former judge Markandey Katju says on his Facebook post that the workload of Supreme court judges had resulted in their commuting Saumya murder case convict Govindachamy’s death sentence. As the judges have to go through a backlog of cases, they don’t get enough time to consider every case.

The post reads thus

“In the Soumya case when I heard for the first time that the Supreme Court had issued notice to me and asked me to appear before them and explain my views, I was upset because I thought the Court was trying to humiliate me since I had criticized their judgement, and such an order was unprecedented. So I had initially thought of not appearing before the Court on 11th November ( the date fixed ).

But when I received the notice of the Court and read it, I found that the Court used very respectful language to me (part of which I have quoted in an earlier fb post), and had 'requested' me, not 'ordered' me, to appear, since they seemed to be sincere about their desire to reconsider their judgment, and did not have a closed mind.

Lord Denning, the celebrated British judge once said " The Judge has not been born who has not made a mistake ", and in Soumya's case I genuinely believe that the Supreme Court made some serious mistakes in its judgment by reversing the death penalty awarded by the High Court, and I have given my reasons in my posts on fb and blog.

Possibly these mistakes were made because the Court is so overburdened with work that it cannot give as much time to cases as they deserve which they would have otherwise done, had it not been for this heavy load of cases to decide.

We are all humans, and all of us make mistakes, but a gentleman is one who realizes his mistake, acknowledges it, and seeks to make amends. This should apply to judges too.

I myself have sometimes made mistakes in my judgments.

In Gian Singh vs. State of Punjab, SLP 8989 of 2010 I observed:

"We are of the opinion that the above three decisions require to be re-considered as, in our opinion, something which cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly. In our, prima facie, opinion, non-compoundable offences cannot be permitted to be compounded by the Court, whether directly or indirectly. Hence, the above three decisions do not appear to us to be correctly decided.

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