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Bombay High Court
Matheran Steam Light Tramway vs B.N. Lang on 24 August, 1926
Equivalent citations: (1927) 29 BOMLR 126
Author: A Marten
Bench: A Marten, Kt., Kemp


Amberson Marten, C.J.

1. In our judgment given on August 16, we directed to be determined as a preliminary issue the question whether there was any judgment validly delivered by Mr. Justice Taraporewala.

2. This was a petition to rectify the Company’s register. The petition was adjourned into Court, and judgment was reserved by Mr. Justice Taraporewala on April 10, 1926. On. April 23, the learned Judge dictated notes of his judgment to a shorthandwriter Mr. Daji. The next day Mr. Justice Taraporewala left Bombay by the mail boat Ranpura for England. The shorthandwriter did not transcribe the notes, but himself went on leave from April 26 to June 2.

3. On April 28; the learned Judge wrote a letter from the SS. Ranpura to the Prothonotary of this Court, which, in the ordinary course of post, would have reached him on or about May 7. The learned Judge there said that he had dictated to Daji his judgment which was to be delivered on June 7. He there states :-

Will you kindly request Mirza J. to deliver it for me 1 If the draft requires to be approved and signed by me, there will bo no time for me to do so by June 7. I desire that in any event my order on the petition should be communicated to the parties in Court on June 7. I have granted all the prayers of the petition and ordered that the register of the Company be rectified by placing the names of F.E. Dinshaw, D.K. Daji, Wadia and Balsekar (2nd to 5th petitioners), on the Company’s register of shareholders, and that the Company should pay the petitioners’ costs. Will you kindly treat this letter as an authority for communicating the said order to the parties in Court on June 7 ? You can send the draft judgment to me for approval and signature” to an address in Europe.

4. Then, after referring to certain other cases in which ho had passed decrees and dictated judgments, he stated that the latter did not require to be revised. He concludes :

If necessary, will you kindly ask Mirza J. to go through the drafts and make necessary corrections if the clerk has made any mistakes ? Daji is a good clerk and takes down my judgments well, and I believe there will be no necessity to correct mistakes. You must have got the judgments now.

5. On June 3, the shorthandwriter transcribed his notes, and showed them to the Prothonotary. The Court re-opened after the April vacation on June 7, 1926. But as from the forenoon of that day Mr. Justice Taraporewala ceased to be a Judge of this Court as his resignation had been accepted by Government with effect from that date, Mr. Justice Mirza, who was shown the above letter of April 28, read out in Court these shorthand notes as being the judgment of Mr. Justice Taraporewala, A question then arose as to the date from which the rectification of the company’s register should take effect. That point had not been dealt with by Mr. Justice Taraporewala, and, accordingly, Mr. Justice Mirza on July 2 gave his decision on that point, viz., that the rectification should take effect from November 24, 1925.

6. It is contended here by the appellants that there has been no judgment by Mr. Justice Taraporewala ; that the unapproved and uncorrected notes dictated to the shorthandwriter did not constitute a final decision of the Judge, and therefore not a judgment; and that the letter of April 28 is not a judgment which the learned Judge intended to give, for it contains no grounds whatever for his decision, as is contemplated by the definition of “judgment” under Section 2(9) of the Civil Procedure Code, and that at most it merely states his order on the petition which is not a sufficient compliance with the requirements of this Code.

7. On the other hand it is contended for the respondents that at any rate the letter of April 28 amounts to a judgment in this sense, viz., that it is an expression of the learned Judge’s final decision as to the order he should make on this present petition ; and that it contains all the materials necessary for a final order on that petition. It is further contended that we may also, under the circumstances, treat the notes dictated to the shorthandwriter ¦ as being a part of the judgment.

8. Now, it must bo remembered in the first place that this was a petition, and that although it was adjourned into Court, it might have been heard in Chambers. This is the first time I have heard it suggested that it is necessary on the Original Side of this Court for a Judge in Chambers to give his reasons why he should make any particular order on a, summons or petition. Though the fact that a Judge may adjourn a petition or summons into Court would generally moan that the matter is of greater complexity or importance, and that, accordingly, as a matter of convenience the learned Judge should give his reasons for his final decision, yet surely a mere adjournment into Court does not necessarily involve that. For instance, supposing a summons for discovery was adjourned into Court I see no essential reason why the Judge should not merely say “summons dismissed with costs” if that was his decision. And even on questions of construction the Chancery Judges used frequently to answer merely yes or no to the various questions submitted to them on originating summonses adjourned info Court, and many other examples may be given.

9. Further, although the Code, no doubt, as regards Courts in the mofussil, requires that a judgment is to state the reasons and is to be signed by the Judge, those rules admittedly do not apply to the High Court on its Original Side. Similarly, Order XX, Rule 2, which provides that “A Judge may pronounce a judgment written but not pronounced by his predecessor” does not apply to the Original Side. Again, although the Bombay High Court Rules contemplate by Rule 242 that “the judgment shall be pronounced in open Court”, that does not necessarily involve that the pronouncement is also to include the reasons for its decision. As regards Rule 243 that rule does not say that necessarily a Judge has to give reasons for his decision. What is to be prepared for the use of the Appellate Court is a note of his judgment and of his findings on the several issues raised. Further, it is pointed out to us that the technical definition of a judgment in Section 2(9) of the Civil Procedure Code, (viz., “‘judgment’ means the statement given by the Judge of the grounds of a decree or order”) can hardly apply without qualification to the Original Side, because in Clause 15 of the Letters Patent which deals with appeals from a Court of first instance on the Original Side the sole words there used are “an appeal shall lie from the judgment”. So the words there include the final decision of the final Court, whether it is technically a decree or an order and irrespective of the grounds for that decision.

10. In our judgment, therefore, it is not essential on a petition of this nature that the Judge should give his reasons for the order he makes. In saying this I must not bo misunderstood. Of course, in an ordinary case a Judge undoubtedly should give his reasons for his decision. But merely as regards the legal validity of the order he passes, I do not think it is vital that he should state his reasons. That being then our finding of law, has the learned Judge here passed a final decision on the petition before him ? We think that he has by the letter of April 28, for that is a letter addressed to the Prothonotary of this Court with specific directions to treat the contents as his order to be communicated to the parties and he states what his order is, via., that ho grants all the prayers of the petition and directs the Company to pay the petitioners’ costs.

11. Now, no doubt, on June 7 Mr. Justice Mirza did not read out this particular letter to the parties. But the shorthand notes which he did read out conclude with the very order referred to in the letter in question, viz., “I therefore make an order in terms of prayers (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) of the petition. 1 further order that the company do pay the petitioners’ costs of this petition.” So the order contained in that letter was thus announced to the parties in open Court. No doubt a good deal more was announced which may or may not legitimately form part of the judgment. But the essential part, viz., the actual order was communicated to the parties. Under the circumstances and considering that the learned Judge arrived at his final conclusion and passed his orders to the Prothonotary on April 28, and that these orders must have reached the Prothonotary by about May 7, and therefore well within the time before the learned Judge’s resignation took effect, we think that this is sufficient, and that the fact that his order was not actually communicated to the parties until the opening of the Court does not invalidate the final decision of the Judge.

12. Under the circumstances we hold that the issue which we directed to be raised should bo answered in the affirmative. The judgment in question will be that contained in the above letter of April 28, for we are unable to accept the shorthand -notes which have never been approved by the learned Judge as being part of his actual judgment. They may be looked at as reasons which were at one time passing through his mind. But they cannot, in our opinion, be looked at as part of the technical judgment delivered by the learned Judge. It will be sufficient in the Appeal Paper Book to have this letter of April 28 printed, as well as the draft shorthand notes.

Kemp, J.

13. I have nothing to add.

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