While making its stand clear on whether High Court should assign reasons or not as to why a petition is allowed or rejected, the Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari in a latest, landmark and laudable ruling titled Jitender Kumar @ Jitender Singh vs The State of Bihar in Criminal Appeal No. 888 of 2019 (Arising out of S.L.P. (Cri.) No. 3502 of 2019) and delivered on May 10, 2019 has once again made it absolutely clear that it is obligatory for the High Court to assign the reasons as to why a petition filed under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code is allowed or rejected. Very rightly so! The Bench thus set aside a Patna High Court order which had dismissed a petition seeking to quash the summons issued to the accused in a murder case.
To start with, the ball is set rolling in para 1 which begins on a usual note by noting that, 'Leave granted'. In real terms, the judgment starts from para 2 which opens the curtain by pointing out emphatically that, 'This appeal is directed against the final judgment and order dated 28.03.2019 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Patna in Criminal Miscellaneous No. 5293 of 2019 whereby the High Court dismissed the petition filed by the appellant herein.'
To be sure, it is then briefly stated in para 3 that, 'A few facts need mention hereinbelow for the disposal of this appeal, which involves a short point.' Para 4 then goes into detail stating that, 'By impugned order, the High Court (Single Judge) dismissed the petition filed by the appellant herein under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short, 'Cr.P.C.') and, in consequence, affirmed the order dated 09.04.2015 passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jamui in connection with P.S. Case No. 154 of 2013 whereby the appellant along was summoned to face Session Trial No. 280 of 2016 pending in the Court of First Additional & Sessions Judge, Jamui for the offences punishable under Sections 302, 325, 326, 331, 352 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (for short, 'IPC').'
To say the least, it is then pointed out in para 5 that, 'The short question, which arises for consideration in this appeal, is whether the High Court was right in dismissing the appellant’s petition.' The Bench then observed in para 6 that, 'Heard Ms. Anjana Prakash, learned senior counsel for the appellant and Ms. Hemlata Ranga, learned counsel for the respondent-State.'
After hearing both the parties, the Bench then observes in para 7 that, 'Having heard the learned counsel for the parties and on perusal of the record of the case, we are inclined to allow this appeal, set aside the impugned order and remand the case to the High Court (Single Judge) for deciding the appellant’s petition afresh on merits in accordance with law.'
While explaining the rationale for remanding the case to the High Court, the Bench then observed in para 8 that, 'The need to remand the case to the High Court has occasioned because on perusal of the impugned order, we find that paras 1 to 4 contain facts of the case, paras 5 and 6 contain the submissions of the learned counsel for the parties, paras 7 to 9 refer to what transpired in the Trial Court, paras 10 and 11 contain quotation from two decisions of this Court and para 12 contains the conclusion, which reads as under:
'12. After giving analytical thought to the facts and circumstances of the case, the instant petition is found devoid of merit, consequent thereupon is dismissed'.'
Going forward, it is then further pointed out in para 9 while rapping the High Court on its knuckles that, 'In the entire impugned order, which consists of 13 paras, we find that the High Court did not assign any reason as to why the petition is liable to be dismissed. In other words, neither there is any discussion and nor the reasoning on the submissions urged by the learned counsel for the parties.'
Needless to say, it is then underscored very rightly in para 10 that, 'In our view, such approach of the High Court while disposing of the petition cannot be countenanced. Time and again, this Court has emphasized the necessity of giving reasons in support of the conclusion because it is the reason, which indicates the application of mind. It is, therefore, obligatory for the Court to assign the reasons as to why the petition is allowed or rejected, as the case may be.'
It would be in the fitness of things also to always assign reason as to why the petition is allowed or rejected. This is so because assigning reason only serves to enhance the credibility of the judgment and not assigning any reason only casts a cloud of doubt over it! So the Apex Court is absolutely right in taking this stand!
To put things in perspective, the Bench then observes in para 11 that, 'As mentioned above, para 12 only records the conclusion. It is for this reason, we feel that the matter must go back to the High Court for deciding the petition afresh on merits in accordance with law.'
More importantly, it is then enunciated in para 12 that, 'In view of the foregoing discussion, the appeal succeeds and is accordingly allowed. The impugned order is set aside. The matter is remanded to the High Court for deciding the petition, out of which this appeal arises, afresh on merits in accordance with law keeping in view the observations made above.'
Having said this, it is also then clarified in para 13 that, 'We, however, make it clear that we have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the issues arising in the case having formed an opinion to remand the case to the High Court for deciding it afresh on the ground mentioned above. The High Court will, therefore, decide the matter on its merits uninfluenced by any of our observations made in this order.' Finally, it is then held in the last para 14 that, 'The parties are granted liberty to mention the matter in the High Court for its early hearing.'
To conclude, the Apex Court in this latest and extremely laudable judgment has left no room of doubt in making it amply clear that it is mandatory that the High Court always assign reasons as to why a petition filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is allowed or rejected. It merits no reiteration that even the Apex Court has time and again emphasized the necessity of giving reasons in support of the conclusion because it is the reason which indicates the application of the mind as pointed out also in this noteworthy judgment!
No doubt, assigning reasons always enhances the faith of the litigants in the judgment. It is a basic rule of thumb of law also that doing so leaves no room for doubt to creep in under any circumstances which culminates in questions being raised over the credibility of the concerned judgment itself which under no circumstances can serve any good purpose! This alone explains why the Apex Court has explicitly, eloquently and elegantly ruled also whereby it has minced no words in making it clear in no uncertain terms that it is obligatory for the High Court to assign the reasons as to why a petition filed under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code is allowed or rejected. There can be no denying it!