Madras HC's Justice GR Swaminathan releases his own Performance Card, resolves to do better

Meera Emmanuel June 30 2019
social media

In what could be a first, Justice GR Swaminathan of the Madras High Court has come out with a report card of sorts, detailing his case disposal rate over the two years he has served as a judge.

In a letter dated June 27, Justice GR Swaminathan reveals that he has disposed of a total of 21,478 cases. Of these, 18,944 cases were disposed of while he sat on a Division Bench and 2,534 cases were disposed of sitting singly. Justice Swaminathan also intimates that he has released this performance card as a measure of judicial accountability.

Further, he goes on to announce his intention to tackle case pendency more effectively and has also sought the assistance of the Bar towards this objective.

Notably, in a move that is likely to usher in greater transparency and guard against retaining cases beyond a roster cycle, Justice Swaminathan has intimated his intention to dictate all his judgments in open Court henceforth. He has stated,

"I had reserved a number of matters and I find it difficult to prepare the orders without the benefit of rehearing. But then, I am not supposed to retain the bundles once the cycle is over. Therefore, with heavy heart I am releasing almost 75 cases from my board. I, with folded hands convey my apologies to the counsel and to the concerned litigants for not giving disposal to those cases.

Henceforth, I shall dictate all the judgments in the open court. This I think will avoid the situation that I am now facing."

He has also announced plans to ensure that his judgments hereafter are more comprehensive.

"I have introspected and I wonder if things could have been a little different and far better. My conscience says “yes”. I have been impatient, sometimes even rude. I hope to put on better behaviour henceforth. Many of my orders have been too cryptic. I request the Bar to appreciate that since pendency is heavy, I was more bent on disposals and I could not afford to write longorders. But then, the essential facts ought to have been stated. There is no excuse for skipping them over."

Further, it is stated that he hopes to find a way to ensure that order copies are dispatched more expeditiously.

"Since I find it very difficult to correct the draft orders, there has been undue delay in despatching the order copies. I hope to evolve a mechanism to overcome the shortcomings. When I enter the third year from tomorrow, I do hope to turn a new leaf."

He has also called on the lawyer community to aid in ensuring that cases are dealt with expeditiously. In this regard, he has appealed to advocates that they should refrain from taking more than one adjournment and that they should be prepared for their case once it is apparent that it would be dealt with by the judge.

"Friends, I have great expectations from you. You may be aware that atleast 4 of my decisions rendered during these two years (Cartoon case, Transgender Judgment, decision on the privacy rights of prisoners and the Srilankan Refugees' case) have attracted wide spread attention and notice.

How can you assist me more, is a question that I want you to pose to yourself. Once my roster is announced, you can immediately be ready by contacting your clients. You need not wait for the case to be listed and then tell me in the court that you want adjournment. You have to get ready with instructions from your clients. You can prepare proper synopsis with dates and events and relevant citations and pass on to the court officer a day in advance. You should not take more than one adjournment.

I believe I can write a good judgment only if your advocacy is good. Bad advocacy will breed only bad judgment. I am critically dependent on you."

Justice Swaminathan signs off his letter by expressing his satisfaction with the lawyers who have assisted him in Court. He has also invited lawyers to offer written suggestions on how he can serve better as a Judge.

"I can touch my conscience and tell you that I have been very happy with the way each and every one of you you have conducted yourselves before me. My Pranams to one and all. I invite you to offer your suggestions as to how I can serve the institution and the cause of justice better. Please put it in writing and pass it on to the court officer."

Justice GR Swaminathan served as the Assistant Solicitor General of India for the Madurai Bench of the High Court before his appointment as an additional judge in June 2017. In April this year, he was made a permanent judge of the High Court.

[Read the letter written by Justice GR Swaminathan below]

Justice GR Swaminathan Madras HC letter - June 2019

Bar & Bench is available on WhatsApp. For real-time updates on stories, Click here to subscribe to our WhatsApp.