Single-line reasoning is not expected from senior judges in appeals against lower court orders: Bombay High Court

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Bombay High Court criticized sessions judge for giving “single-line” reasoning while quashing an order of a judicial magistrate.

The Bombay High Court recently frowned upon a sessions judge for giving single-line reasoning to quash a detailed order passed by the Judicial Magistrate.

The bench of Justice SG Mehare said that single-line reasoning is not expected from senior judges like district judges while criticizing the sessions judge for erroneously observing without giving any reasons that the magistrate had not properly appreciated the evidence in proper perspective in a domestic violence case.

“The learned Additional Sessions Judge did not assign any reason, disagreeing with the reasoned order passed by the learned Magistrate. It has erroneously observed without giving reasons that the Magistrate has not properly appreciated the evidence in proper perspective,” the court said.

The court further said, “Same way, the learned Additional Sessions Judge has recorded a single-line reason that there is sufficient evidence to establish the domestic violence caused to the appellant. Again, such a single-line reason is not expected from senior judges like District judges. He appears to have ignored the rules of writing judgment in appeal.”

In addition, Justice Mehare also said that the appellate court must conduct its hearings in every case as it were a trial and provide explanations for its decisions.

A criminal revision appeal was being heard before the sessions judge as a result of a magistrate's decision to deny a wife maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (DV) Act.

The sessions judge had overturned the magistrate’s order and granted monthly maintenance of Rs 3,000 and an additional Rs 3,000 for rent. 

Hence, the present revision application was filed.

The petitioner contended that the appellate court cannot disagree with the trial court’s well-reasoned judgment in a single line of reasoning. He contended that the criminal court must have followed the civil court's ruling that there was no cruelty or desertion in the divorce petition.

Petitioner’s wife claimed that he was living with a second wife and children and had deserted her.

The appellate court must write a decision as though the matter is a trial before it, the court ruled. All issues for resolution, the ruling, and any additional justifications provided by the court must be included in the judgment.

The court said, “Perusal of the order passed by the learned Judicial Magistrate, this Court is of the view that it is well-reasoned order and with correct findings that the respondent/wife failed to prove the domestic violence. However, the learned Additional Sessions Judge appears to have not correctly examined the record, considered the rule of appreciating the evidence, and mechanically passed the impugned order. The impugned order is illegal, improper and incorrect, and therefore, it is liable to be set aside.”

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