The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently approved the use of simple language in judgments and orders passed by judges, terming the same to be the strength of any writer (Parveen Bali v. State of Punjab and ors).
The Court made the observation while ordering the reinstatement of an Additional District and Sessions Judge on finding that a 2011 order dispensing with her services was discriminatory and passed without a full appreciation of all relevant factors.
One of the factors cited by the authorities to defend the decision to let go of the judicial officer in this case was that her judgments were found to be in simple language.
The High Court Bench of Justices Jitendra Chauhan and Girish Agnihotri, however, pointed out that this should be viewed positively and as a strength, since it would enable the common public to understand the content better. In this regard, the judgment states:
“We feel that simplicity of the expression is an ornament of any language as the same is understood by the common man. In writing the complex sentences, sometimes essence of the subject is lost. The subject should be guided by simple and constructive thought and not by complicated/complex language. That does not serve the purpose of anybody. Many of the officers in the cadre come from the country schools who do not have exposure to this foreign language. Therefore, we do not consider the same as a ground for drawing any adverse inference against the officer, rather that is the strength of any writer.“
Before the Court was ADJ Parveen Bali, who had been served an order in June 2011 whereby her services was dispensed with on the recommendation of the Punjab & Haryana High Court.
Challenging the decision, Bali filed a writ petition in the High Court seeking her reinstatement.
The High Court, in turn, allowed the writ petition upon noting:
- The petitioner was not given an opportunity of hearing; not all facts were brought to the notice of the Full Court.
- The reason why she had disposed of a fewer number of cases was because she was given the charge of a new Sessions Division where the number of cases was fewer. Further, many of the cases transferred to this new court had also been given long dates prior to the transfer. Therefore, the judicial officers of this court did not have an opportunity to take up many cases. As such, the Court agreed with the petitioner’s stance that she “neither got appropriate time/circumstances to improve her work nor was given sufficient time to make any representation.”
- The Court also noted that the number of units earned by other officers in the same district as the petitioner were also broadly at the same level. Thus, the petitioner could not be discriminated against.
- The judge’s use of simple language in her judgments is not a deficiency, but rather a strength.
- The academic record of the petitioner showed that she has been a bright aspirant for judicial services. It was also noted that she was the “only candidate, under Scheduled Caste Category, to get selected and placed in the order of merit; securing better & higher marks in the written examination, even more than the candidate placed at serial no. 1 in the overall order of merit.“
- In none of her previous Annual Confidential Reports had the petitioner been adjudged as “not satisfactory”. On the other hand, it was pointed out that another judicial officer whose performance was found “not upto the mark” had been retained in service.
The High Court proceeded to direct that the petitioner be reinstated into service within six months. She will be entitled to all consequential benefits. The Court further ordered,
“Considering all these factors, the Officer ought to have been counselled, guided and deserved to have been given an opportunity to enhance her potential and performance. We also feel that at the initial stage, young officers need to be encouraged so that he or she performs his/her best and the same is utilized for the general good of the Society.”
Senior Advocate Puneet Bali and Advocate Kannu Sharma appeared for the petitioner, whereas AAG Lavanya Paul and Advocate Rohit Kapoor appeared for the respondent side.