Monday, May 11, 2015

Judgments and Decision making

A decision made by a judge issues out as a judgment. Judges are also human beings. Therefore, they go through the same decision-making process as anybody else.

It is common knowledge that a banker first decides to lend or not to a particular borrower and then the credit proposal or justification for sanction / rejection is phrased accordingly. This is the reason why many loans are born out of impressions. While arriving at decisions affecting others, we always go by perceptions or impressions about others. This normal sequence involved in decision making, that is conclude first and then reason it out, may appear to be putting the cart before the horse. But it saves a lot of time and avoids prolonged haziness or dilemma.

In the court of law, there is bound to be adversarial interpretations about the crucial 'facts'; hence, perceptions of the presiding judge becomes significant. In the Jayalalithaa appeal case, the Karnataka High Court judge Mr.Kumaraswamy has drawn extensive support from a 1977 Supreme Court decision in the matter of Krishnananda Agnihotri vs State of M.P. This case dealt with amounts less than Rs.2 lacs of disproportionate assets. The Supreme Court found that assets were out of proportion to known sources of income by a marginal amount which was less than 10% and therefore the accused was held not guilty. Justice Kumaraswamy considered this a relevant precedent whereas another judge having a different perception about Jayalalithaa or politicians in general might have dismissed this case as irrelevant in view of incomparable amounts.

If there is an appeal in the Supreme Court, we do not know what the apex court will say. But we know for sure that perceptions will play a major part there also. In essence, it appears tricky to side with the sessions judge or the High Court judge. It is however entertaining to hear Karunanidhi quote Mahatma Gandhi ("there is a higher court namely the conscience") or Kushboo ask how Jayalalithaa can get sleep!

1 comment:

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