Precedents play a major role in decision making, but the judge applies his judicial mind to act in fair and just manner after absorbing the current environmental circumstances. Different backgrounds characteristics and experiences, all have been hypothesized as been perhaps a major factor in understanding and predicting the variant voting pattern of the judges. Their interpretations drive by the so-called dynamic theory of the judicial process.
Fundamental Prerequisite of a Judge
Judges must develop judicial and administrative skills and most importantly follow judicial ethics. Judge has to decide maximum number of cases to the best of his ability by practicing and upholding high ethical standards and this is to be done by the judge by his conduct, decision-making process and by rendering decisions which are fairly, equitably and justly. Then only they can earn the trust and respect for the judiciary from the public and members of the Bar Council.
Judges have to sometimes act at their discretion. The question here arises i.e.
Are judges given authority to decide the dispute according to their discretion and instincts or before deciding any matter they are supposed to think for the benefit of the public at large and well being of humanity?
The answer to the question lies in various judicial announcements where many factors play role in affecting the judicial mind.
In Gulabchand Kisanlal Chandak vs. State of Maharashtra (1991), the learned judge behest of the prosecution on the basis of facts and evidence and laid down the application of judicial mind, but still has to apply judicial mind to the facts of the case in giving the order.
Judges in constitutional democracy neither possess force nor will but they merely possess judgment.
However, the institutional legitimacy of the judiciary still depends on the quality of judgment that the judge pronounces. Even the most talented and knowledgeable judges commit occasional mistakes and the public expects judges to avoid systematic errors.
However, empirical evidence suggests that even highly qualified judges inevitably relied on the cognitive decision-making process, which will reduce systematic errors in judgment.
Legal scholars who represent various schools of thought have long argued that judges do not merely find facts and apply legal principles in a completely accurate and unbiased way, because they are also human beings like us.
Azhar Ahmed Khan vs. Union of India (1962), it was found that irrebuttable presumption too was present to the held judicial mind in appreciating the existence of facts.
Philosophy of judges
Judges operating in the constitutional framework, restrain the pure expression of the personal preference of a judge. But this allows significant latitude of such expression. If we understand the philosophy of the judges, the constitutional law changes according to the philosophical current present in the minds of the judges. It is illogical to disassociate the decision-making from personal philosophies.
In the Bank Nationalization case (1970), the court overruled its own judgment almost after 25 years.
Similarly, in Privy Purse Case (1970), the court changed its mind and gave a new decision after 1 year.
This shows that the subjectivity of an individual judge plays the most important role in deciding the case. It is because of this subjectivity the inherent morality embedded in a judge’s subconscious mind which gives the law its dynamic character.
It is also known that judgments of the High Court are non-challengeable by lower courts on the ground that their decisions are not truthful. Each respective judge has his/her own perception of what they have in mind, what the law is about and its functionality, ultimately the law undertakes to implement the same. Judges are not always truthful in their reasoning for a particular decision and merely use other factors as a support ground while announcing the decision.
Judges appeal to the emotions of the people’s minds by presenting the so-called case and the rational decisions that follow further. However, in doing so they hide all the going on in their minds, most importantly their personal feelings related to the case.
Cognitive rationale and beliefs influencing decision making
Psychological motives and beliefs also influence judges’ decision-making at a large scale but are often unseen unheard. These influences are not altered when one assumes a role of a judge. Judicial behavior and decision-making of the high court represent in major, the personal impulses of the judge in relation to the situation before him. These impulses of the judge are determined by the judge’s lifelong series of previous experiences.
Sometimes judges do not decide cases according to rules but according to hunch.
The hunch is in turn the result of one’s heredity, environment and training which include the legal principle he has learned throughout his life. Further by choosing wisely finds support for his valid conclusion. The decisions shape the narrative of the facts and are meant to persuade the readers.
Factors affecting decision making
People always question about ratio decedendi and obita dicta to the court and its ultimate decision, but in obita dicta at most of the places, certain things are present which reflects a judge’s behavior.
Supreme Court compels some sort of value choices. The judges are human beings and they are neither removed from the knowledge of life nor they are impersonal vehicles of revealed truth. They are men with vigorous minds and diversified backgrounds interpreting the constitution inferring out of their own experiences and their judgment about the practical matter and their ideals of social order. Social views and the legal philosophy of the judge are often considered powerful forces, both in shaping law and in its administration.
The nature of the dispute brought to the attention of the Supreme Court may require judges to formulate a set of philosophies or ideologies regarding the large social issues of the country. It is possible to describe an attitude in a bipolarization, conservative or liberal attitude.
Apart from the mentioned factors, there can be many internal and external factors which play role in shaping the childhood experiences developing a maturity period to adult. Some factors related to colleagues amongst them. Sometimes they are influenced and pressurized by family members and other players in courts. Judicial conventions and certain events happening in the court influence and leave behind a heavy and long impact on the mind of judges.
A closer look into the present-day Indian Judiciary
Still, at times the Indian judiciary is a predominant and independent institution despite the fact that there are many closer nexuses whether it can be with regard to allegations of politicians and judicial nexus or instances of corruption in the judiciary.
But even then still the image of the judiciary i.e. one of the independent and clean institution can have a check on both executive and legislature is well maintained and is same as it was 50 years back, so its integrity and impartiality remains beyond question. The work of the judiciary is to undertake social change and there is always resistance in undertaking those social changes. Members of parliaments may not be choosing to amend personal laws because of public opinion.
People are dolorously still unaware of good governance and just live in satisfaction of only having basic necessities and are not willing to fight for their rights and implementing proper and just laws. But the harsh truth is that millions of people of India don’t have basic rights and resources. For instance non-availability of electricity, mobile networks and infrastructures in many rural areas including small towns have proven the failed governance system of India we are witnessing in 2021.
Most people in India fear calling the police or reporting their inconveniences to the police station. Courts are also avoided by people because no one wants to stick in the time taking and costly affairs of court procedures. Even after people refusing to raise their voice in courts the number of cases pending in Indian courts is rising. These people include not only uneducated and poor population but also literate and educated people, including lawyers.
This situation persists because these people believe in solving their disputes outside the court without getting themselves involved in court procedures because of the lacuna present in the Indian judiciary system which is delayed and time taking justice.
It has become a sort of deterrent where we can see people threatening others saying that they will grad the case or person to the court. Court has become a place where people fear to go irrespective of the fact whether they are right or wrong, victim or accused.
Directive principles of state policy put light on Article 39A of the Indian constitution which states that everyone should be provided legal aid. But unfortunately, that is certainly not happening in the governance of the country. Legal aid cells are missing or not working properly. Even Lok Adalats have not been able to perform their job effectively.
This is just the start of a bright future in the judicial field. So much more needs to be done. As far as the law is concerned, every judge should know about the results of these factors influencing, playing a major role in decision making and then should use their judicial mind in solving disputes.
Every judge should even perhaps participate in these kinds of experiments ensuring training to help them be more self-reflective and self-aware of kinds of effects it can lay down on society. At the very least every judge should know the basics of psychological effects at play. That would lead to a better and fairer justice system.
Justice, we are aware of, should be imparted in accordance with the law. Justice is not a mere robotic or mechanical process while a judge disposes of a law.
This article has been written by Dhruv Kumar, 4th Year BBA.LLB student at The University of Petroleum and Energy Studies.