Justice Dipak Misra rules: Five orders that exhibit the next CJI’s wordplay
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Justice Dipak Misra rules: Five orders that exhibit the next CJI’s wordplay

Dipak Misra is known for peppering his rulings with words from Shakespeare. In one instance, he wrote a sentence that went on for 200 words.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2017 11:09 IST
Ashok Bagriya
Ashok Bagriya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
dipak misra,chief justice,CJI

Supreme Court judge Dipak Misra will take over as the country’s chief justice from JS Khehar this month, the government announced recently.

Among his most known rulings are the ones on December 16 gang-rape case and the trial of Yakub Memon, instances where he rejected the defendants’ appeal against the death penalty.

Misra, who often quotes extempore from Shakespeare and ancient texts, has a unique style of self expression in writing judgments: A style that relies heavily on literary sources and complex word play.

His writing often harks back to the verbose style of justice VK Krishna Iyer, who wrote many path-breaking judgments.

But invoking Shakespeare in law can at times be disastrous, as judgments can become difficult to understand.

Following is a list of five judgments/orders authored by Justice Misra where comprehension is a casualty:

Case: Priyanka Srivastava and Anr vs State of UP (2015)

Almost 200 words long, this sentence could rank as the longest sentence ever written by a judge in India:

“The present appeal projects and frescoes a scenario which is not only disturbing but also has the potentiality to create a stir compelling one to ponder in a perturbed state how some unscrupulous, unprincipled and deviant litigants can ingeniously and innovatively design in a nonchalant manner to knock at the doors of the Court, as if, it is a laboratory where multifarious experiments can take place and such skillful persons can adroitly abuse the process of the Court at their own will and desire by painting a canvas of agony by assiduous assertions made in the application though the real intention is to harass the statutory authorities, without any remote remorse, with the inventive design primarily to create a mental pressure on the said officials as individuals, for they would not like to be dragged to a court of law to face in criminal cases, and further pressurize in such a fashion so that financial institution which they represent would ultimately be constrained to accept the request for “one- time settlement” with the fond hope that the obstinate defaulters who had borrowed money from it would withdraw the cases instituted against them.”

Case: Subramanian Swamy vs Union of India (defamation case)

The following passage is a formidable challenge for the best of comprehension and intellectual abilities:

“Reputation being an inherent component of Article 21, we do not think it should be allowed to be sullied solely because another individual can have its freedom. It is not a restriction that has an inevitable consequence which impairs circulation of thought and ideas. In fact, it is control regard being had to another person’s right to go to Court and state that he has been wronged and abused. He can take recourse to a procedure recognized and accepted in law to retrieve and redeem his reputation.Therefore, the balance between the two rights needs to be struck. “Reputation” of one cannot be allowed to be crucified at the altar of the other’s right of free speech. The legislature in its wisdom has not thought it appropriate to abolish criminality of defamation in the obtaining social climate.”

Case: NEET order

Another instance of complex wordplay:

“The present litigation exposits a sad, sad scenario. It is sad because a chaos has crept in the lives of some students and it is further sad as the State of Goa and its functionaries have allowed ingress of systemic anarchy throwing propriety to the winds possibly harbouring the attitude of utter indifference and nurturing an incurable propensity to pave the path of deviancy.”

Case: Order on the national anthem, 2003

Here, Justice Misra explains the importance of respect for the national anthem:

“National Anthem is to be sung with magna cum laude and nobody can ostracize the concept of summa cum laude. […] The national anthem is pivotal and centri-podal to the basic conception of sovereignty and integrity of India. It is the marrow of nationalism, hypostasis of patriotism, nucleus of national heritage, substratum of culture and epitome of national honour.”

Case: Voluntary health association of Punjab vs State of Punjb

Justice Misra stresses on the importance for creating awareness on female foeticide:

“They must understand and accept that it is an art as well as a science and not simple arithmetic. It cannot take the colour of a routine speech. The awareness camps should not be founded on the theory of Euclidian geometry. It must engulf the concept of social vigilance with an analytical mind and radiate into the marrows of the society. If awareness campaigns are not appositely conducted, the needed guidance for the people would be without meaning and things shall fall apart and everyone would try to take shelter in cynical escapism.”

First Published: Aug 09, 2017 11:04 IST