Pass an Order We Can Understand, SC Tells Bombay HC While Sending Back Case.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has “requested” the Bombay high court to pass an order which the bench “can understand”, while setting aside the high court’s previous order in a case.

The Supreme Court bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose was hearing a special leave petition questioning the Bombay high court’s two-page order in a criminal writ petition heard by the Aurangabad bench. “On perusal of the impugned order, we find it is unintelligible and we could not decipher what has been decided by the High Court,” the Supreme Court said.

“We, accordingly, set aside the order and remit the matter to the High Court. We request the High Court to pass an order which we can understand,” the bench continued.

Indeed, reading the two-page Bombay high court order issued by Justices K.K. Sonawane and T.V. Nalawade provides very little insight on what the bench is saying. Sample this, the second paragraph of the two-paragraph judgment:

“The submissions made show that the present petitioner for the offence punishable under Section 324 read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code and it is at the stage of final argument in the matter. An investigation in Crime Register No. 88 of 2016 is not completed, there is no question of taking cognizance of the offence allegedly against the present petitioner by other side. It was always open to the present petitioner to bring on record the relevant circumstances which can be said to be in favour of the petitioner. For that, the of proceeding of Sessions Case which is on the verge of the completion and decision cannot be stalled. As the present proceeding is premature in respect of Crime Register No. 88 of 2016. Present proceeding is also disposed of.”

This isn’t the first time a court order has been set aside for being unintelligible. In April 2017, a Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta set aside a Himachal Pradesh high court order in a landlord-tenant dispute. It was impossible, the apex court had said then, to understand what the high court meant to say, and who in fact it had ruled in favour of. The Wire had reported then on how much of the high court’s order read basically like gibberish.

The Supreme Court too is not always a guiding light when it comes to the use of language. As Tunku Varadarajan wrote in The Wire on the apex court’s judgment in Subramanian Swamy v Union of India, a case on the criminal defamation law:

“…the language of the court…in keeping with an alarming trend in Indian jurisprudence, is a hodge-podge of catastrophic syntax and overblown (sometimes laughable) vocabulary.”