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'Is this in Latin'? SC upset with Himachal HC's language, again

The judgment was authored by Justice Sureshwar Thakur

himachal pradesh high court The Himachal Pradesh High Court | Supreme Court e-Committee

The verbosity of Indian judges and justices has made headlines for years now. But it is rare when the Supreme Court gets upset with a High Court over the language of its judgments repeatedly.

On Monday, a two-justice bench of the Supreme Court warned it may have to return for rewriting a judgment of the Himachal Pradesh High Court due to its language. The judgment in question was authored by Justice Sureshwar Thakur of the High Court in December 2017. Hearing an appeal against it, the bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and P.S. Narasimha was quoted by Bar and Bench as saying “Is this in Latin? We may have to send it back to the High Court for it to be rewritten.” Advocate Nidhesh Gupta, who appeared for the aggrieved party, concurred with the Supreme Court justices.

The matter related to a property dispute. The Supreme Court directed the two counsels to attempt to resolve the matter amicably in two weeks. The bench noted it was contemplating sending the order back to the High Court to be rewritten. The Supreme Court will take up the matter again on January 24.

Bar and Bench noted this was the fourth instance of the apex court being unhappy with the language of judgments of the Himachal Pradesh High Court since 2017:

  • In March 2021, Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah noted a judgment of the Himachal Pradesh High Court was incomprehensible. The Supreme Court pointed out, “the purpose of judgments is to convey the basis and reasons for its decision not only to lawyers but also to citizens who approach courts for remedy. Court judgments should,therefore, be in language which can be understood not only by lawyers but also citizens who approach courts," Bar and Bench reported.

  • In December 2018, Justices A.M. Sapre and Indu Malhotra were upset that the Himachal Pradesh High Court took 60 pages for its order and reminded it about “brevity being a virtue”. The Supreme Court was hearing an appeal against the HC order.

  • In April 2017, a Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan Lokur and Deepak Gupta set aside a judgment authored by Thakur, saying “one cannot understand this”. The Supreme Court directed the High Court to redraft the judgment.

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