The end product of a trial, in a court of law, is the judgment by that court. It is the only allowed interaction of a judge with people -as the world at large has just witnessed a judgement in case of Gen. Musharraf. However, there are certain characteristics of a good judgment. The procedural law (Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898) provides under its section 367; what a good judgment should have.
Yet, it does not provide what a good judgment should not have. So, whether the Musharaff’s case verdict is despicable or laudable; the august superior court (ie the Supreme Court of Pakistan) will decide. True, there is no clear-cut rule of writing a judgment. Yet, what a good judgment should have and should not have is an open question that needs to be answered by the court.
Before analysing what are the requirements of a good judgment, it needs to be defined and explained. A judgment can be defined as grounds for the decision. It can be the decision of a court resolving the disputes between the parties; or on a criminal side, it can be the determination of guilt. In simple words, it is the application of law upon the conclusion of facts.
The end product of a trial, in a court of law, is the judgment. It is the only allowed interaction of a judge with people
It is based upon the points for determinations, decision and the reasoning behind it. Foremost, a good judgment stands on three main pillars: one, points for determination; second, decision thereon; and third, reasons for the decision.
In simple parlance: the charge of crime against the accused, the adjudication of the charge—trial resulted in conviction or acquittal—and the reasons for its decision. Furthermore, good judgment must comprehensively analyze all relevant facts, should depict, clear thinking, and then writing. Moreover, it should be self-contained, unambiguous, conveniently intelligible.
And it should be transparent like clean water; so that, people can understand it without any doubt. Lastly, it should be brief. Besides, good judgment should be based on evidence on record. No external material or any extraneous circumstances can be considered in writing a judgment of a particular case. And it should discuss the evidence, reasons, arguments, and materials from both sides.
Likewise, a trial court is not required to discuss and research the law. As it is a court, more of facts than law. It deals with the facts; therefore, its judgment too must not leave any important fact and introduce any extraneous one. The trial court’s judgment is an answer to the question of fact and not of law. It is the job of superior courts to examine and expound the law.
And, it should be plain and easily understandable. If the judgment is in the English language, the use of oriental words should be avoided. Moreover, the poetic allusions should also be avoided. Now, what judgment should not have. Foremost, as it is said that “brevity is the soul of wit”, so it should not be too long and boredom.
Since, it is the quality, not the quantity, which produces good judgment. Yes, it should not leave any important fact; however, it should not be unduly long, repetitive and unbridled. Generally, the judges do not have to worry about the interests of the readers; but they should have it. And usually, the judges in our country have an inclination for tracing the history of the case or subject.
And it should be transparent like a clean water; so that, people can understand it without any doubt and probabilities
The history cannot be a part of good judgment, because good judgment is a concise judgment. Next, it is the requirement that the tone and attitude of a judge should not be depicted through a judgment. Further, the criticism, if it is necessary, should be in an honorary and dignified manner. No personal remarks should be part of it. Moreover, it should not contain adverse remarks against the past or present conduct of any public servant.
Otherwise, the whole judicial system would too become open to criticism. There should not be left any chance of even a slight feeling of bias. Each party, must have full trust on the judge. Transparency is sin-qua-non for a judgment; because it supports the building of public confidence, whereupon whole judicial structure is standing.
As it is not the satisfaction of a judge, rather the satisfaction of the party to the case, which is a hallmark of the test of biasedness. In addition, it should be at the end of the trial. Unless, a party satisfies that he has been heard and completely granted an opportunity to present his case, the rule of prudence is that, it should be postponed. so, there should not be any agitation regarding the hearing.
Moreover, it should not contain any unnecessary details, arguments, materials, and discussions, etc. either in or out of the court. In a nutshell, good judgment requires to have: reasoning, clarity, precision, brevity, sobriety, impartiality, complete hearing, and evidence, precedents, arguments of both sides.
And it requires not to have: prolixity, verbosity, poetic expressions, frivolity, complex sentences, personal knowledge of the judge, and adverse, derogatory, disparaging remarks. In view of all background, whether the verdict in General Musharraf’s case is a good judgment or not. The decision is yours.
Lastly, it is an honor to conclude, in the words of Holy Prophet PBUH: “there are three categories of judges; two will go to Hell Fire whilst the third one will enter Paradise. A judge who knows the truth and passes judgment accordingly will enter paradise. A judge who knows the truth but perverts the course of justice will go the hell and also a judge who knows the truth and passed judgment based on ignorance shall go to hell.”
Hafiz Muhammad Azeem is an advocate of the high court. He holds an LL.M. from the Punjab University and teaches law at Punjab Law College. He writes research-based articles on various topics and can be reached at khokhar.azeem@yahoo. com. His articles can be accessed on hmazeem.blospot.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.