Section 353 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.) – Explained!
Judgment is the final decision of the Court, given with reason, on the question of the guilt or innocence of the accused person. It also includes Court’s decision as to the punishment the guilty person has to suffer or as to the conditions subject to which the offender is to be released without being punished. Thus it is the expression of the final opinion of the Judge or Magistrate arrived at after due consideration of the evidence and of the arguments.
The Supreme Court in Jagvir Singh and others v. State of Delhi reiterated by observing that statements of fact as to what transpired at the hearing, recorded in the judgment of the Court, are conclusive of the facts so stated and no one can contradict such statements by affidavit or other evidence.
However if a party feels that the happenings in Court have been wrongly recorded in a judgment, it is incumbent upon the party, while the matter is still fresh in the minds of the Judges, to call the attention of every Judge who made the record. That is the only way to have the record corrected. If no such step is taken, the matters must necessarily end there.
The instant case involved appeal against conviction for offences punishable under Sections 342, 365 and 330 read with Section 34, I.P.C., which was disposed of on basis of concession that appeal related only to question of quantum of sentence. The appellants’ plea was there was no such concession made by party.
The Supreme Court held that the said contention was not tenable before the Apex Court as judgment passed by Court is conclusive of facts that transpired at the hearing. The appeal was, therefore, dismissed.-
The Supreme Court in State of Himachal Pradesh v. Paras Ram and others set aside an order stating only ‘dismissed’ passed by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh and re- emphasised the need for giving reasons in this judgment as required by Section 353, Cr.P.C. The Court observed, “Reasons substitute subjectivity by objectivity…………. right to reason is an indispensable part of sound judicial system.” Reasons at least sufficiently indicate an application of mind to the matter before the Court. It also enables the affected party to know as to why decision has gone against him. It is also a requirement of natural justice that every judgment must spell out the reasons.
Section 353 deals with the mode of delivering a judgment. The provisions contained in this section are based upon sound and substantial grounds of public policy which must be followed by every Criminal Court in delivering a judgment. The Presiding Officer of the criminal Court must pronounce the judgment in every trial in the open Court.
It is only the Judge who hears the evidence, should write the judgment. The section does not allow a successor Sessions Judge to pronounce a judgment based on evidence recorded by his predecessor.
The Supreme Court in Nageswar Krishna Ghobe v. State of Maharashtra has observed that “while writing a judgment, the judges should express their opinions in temperate language usually associated with and reflecting the impersonal dignity of judicial restrain.”
Where a Judge dies after writing the judgment but before pronouncing it in open Court, such a judgment cannot be considered as a ‘Judgment’ within the meaning of Section 353, but is merely an opinion expressed by the deceased Judge. Therefore, where a judge who wrote the judgment dies before it was delivered or pronounced, another Judge cannot deliver it.
The section requires that a judgment must be dated and signed by the Presiding Officer in open Court. It has been held by the Supreme Court that an omission to sign or date a judgment by a Judge or a Magistrate in open Court at the time of pronouncing it amounts a mere irregularity which is curable by Section 465 of the Code.
The question as to language of judgment was involved in the case of Yelchuri v. State of Andhra Pradesh. The facts of the case in brief were that a notification issued by the State Government stated that English and Telgu or English, Telgu and Urdu were to be the languages in different districts of Andhra Pradesh. So far Krishna District was concerned, English and Telgu were the languages notified as the languages of the Court.
Though the said notification was issued under Section 272 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the section is clear that the languages notified in exercise of the power under the said section would be the languages of the Court for ail the purposes of the Code. No further notification declaring Telgu language as the language in which the judgment can be written was required.
In the instant case, the trial Court wrote the entire judgment in English language only, but for a paragraph at the end while giving reasons that prompted it to impose the extreme penalty of death. The High Court held that the same would not vitiate the judgment in any way, inasmuch as a well reasoned judgment was given in English language also while dealing with the sentencing aspect.