JUDGMENTS SHOULD SPEAK, NOT THE JUDGE.
When a case is put before any court of law, the presiding officer of the court, i.e. the Judge, completes the hearing of the case and then pronounces the judgment. Judgment is the final decision of the court on a case which describes facts, law and grounds of decision of the court. The judge gives his analysis of facts and law and furnishes his recommendations and opinions as per requirements of the judgment. However during hearing of the case, judge passes many remarks and gives certain observations which are not part of the judgment. These remarks and observations of apex court of Pakistan are under severe criticism these days.
Trend of passing observations and remarks during the hearing of case is not too ancient. It is hardly a decade old when the judiciary was restored after a lawyers movement and judges were quoted in the breaking news and tickers of news channels. Media coverage of courts was not so common before restoration of judiciary. Judiciary came under focus light when Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry set a precedent of Suo Moto actions by Supreme Court on public issues. Most of the Suo Moto actions were against policy decisions and orders of government, therefore media had to cover these issues live from Supreme Court of Pakistan. Apart from coverage of day to day hearing of cases in the Supreme Court, media channels updated viewers inside the court remarks and observations made by honorable judges during hearing. These remarks and comments made by honorable judges used to be informal in nature and these were never part of the judgments of the honorable court.
There is a saying “Judge should not speak but his judgments should speak“. This saying is informally followed and stressed by legal fraternity all over the world. Many Indian Judges of Higher Courts, in their judgments, have asked the lower judiciary to follow this rule. Similarly in all parts of the world, inappropriate remarks made by a judge which are not part of judgment are not appreciated.
Recently, the Panama case hearings in the Supreme Court of Pakistan became headlines of print and electronic media. Specially the remarks made by the honorable judges became very famous. Media published remarks of the judges to create curiosity and sell their time. While political parties started quoting those remarks in press conferences to create a perception that case will be decided in their favor. In this war of creating perception and selling of news, there was only one beneficiary who got fame and most of the space and time in media, the judges.
It was witnessed that most of the judges started using observations that could be aired on electronic media immediately and giving an image that justice is really being done in the honorable court. Reaction to such remarks, which were derogatory to one of the parties to the case, also started to come. Representatives of political parties started to give open criticism to judges and their attitude. It was very unpleasant situation that a sub-judice matter was criticized and discussed publicly. Judgement of a case is a public document and it can be criticized, but sub-judice matter cannot be discussed.
This situation was also put before the Supreme Court through a petition in which it was prayed that comments and analysis on observations of the court should be banned immediately. But this petition brought no result. It is very strange to know that although mobile phones and other gadgets are not allowed in the court room, yet word to word remarks of judges were passed out of the court during hearing.
A few days ago, the phrase “Judgments should speak not the Judge” came under discussion in public forums. Some members of judiciary were found explaining their judgments and decisions publicly. According to legal experts and jurists, this precedent will ultimately harm the struggle of justice and free, fair and impartial justice system in Pakistan. They say that it will damage the independent role of Judiciary as third organ of the State.