New Delhi (ABC Live) : Judge Four Fundamental Qualities : A judge has to be possessed of excellence not only from within but he should also visibly display the functional excellence which is necessary to fulfil the constitutional promise of justice by the judiciary as a whole.
Four qualities are needed in a judge which are symptomatic of functional excellence. They are: (i) Punctuality (ii) Probity (iii) Promptness; and (iv) Patience.
Punctuality of time is the first Fundamental quality every judge should possess , as a judge who does not observe punctuality of time deems that he does not believe in rule of law.
Probity is uprightness; moral integrity; honesty. According to Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer the judges who do not pronounce judgment in time commit turpitude. He notes with a sense of sorrow- ” It has become these days, for the highest to the lowest courts’ judges, after the arguments are closed, take months and years to pronounce judgments even in interlocutory matters- a sin which cannot be forgiven, a practice which must be forbidden, a wrong which calls for censure or worse.”
Lord Denning puts it mildly by way of tendering good advice for a new judge. He says that when judgment was clear and obvious it was for the benefit of the parties and the judge himself that judgment should be delivered forthwith and without more ado. Though, the art is difficult and requires great skills but practice can enable perfection. However, not all judgments can be delivered ex tempore; there are cases in which doubts are to be cleared, law has to be settled and conflicts are to be resolved either by performing the difficult task of reconciling or the unpleasant task of overruling. Such judgments need calm and cool thinking and deep deliberations. Such judgments must be reserved but not for an unreasonable length of time. Conduct of Judge in private When a judge sits on trial, he himself is on trial.
The trust and confidence of ‘we the people’ in judiciary stands on the bedrock of its ability to dispense fearless and impartial justice. Any action which may shake that foundation is just not permitted.
Once having assumed the judicial office, the judge is a judge for 24 hours. It is a mistaken assumption for any holder of judicial office to say that I am a judge from 10 to 5 and from 5 to 10 it is my private life. A judge is constantly under public gaze. ” Judicial office is essentially a public trust. Society is, therefore, entitled to expect that a Judge must be a man of high integrity, honesty and required to have moral vigour, ethical firmness and impervious to corrupt or venial influences.
He is required to keep most exacting standards of propriety in judicial conduct. Any conduct which tends to undermine public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the court would be deleterious to the efficacy of judicial process. Society, therefore, expects higher standards of conduct and rectitude from a Judge.
Unwritten code of conduct is writ large for judicial officers to emulate and imbibe high moral or ethical standards expected of a higher judicial functionary, as wholesome standard of conduct which would generate public confidence, accord dignity to the judicial office and enhance public image, not only of the Judge but the court itself.
It is, therefore, a basic requirement that a Judge’s official and personal conduct be free from impropriety; the same must be in tune with the highest standard of propriety and probity. The standard of conduct is higher than that expected of a layman and also higher than that expected of an advocate. In fact, even his private life must adhere to high standards of probity and propriety, higher than those deemed acceptable for others. Therefore, the Judge can ill afford to seek shelter from the fallen standard in the society.”
Patience and Tolerance: The greatest quality of a Judge is to have patience which is sister virtue of calmness. Calmness is as essential as fearlessness and honesty to the exercise of good judgment in times of aroused feelings and excited passion. Patience implies the quietness or self possession of one’s own spirit under sufferance and provocation. Since it has a tranquillizing effect, patience is the best remedy for every affliction. The Bible says that if patience or silence be good for the wise, how much the better for others- unwise or not so wise. Sometimes we turn our anger upon the person responsible for hurting us; we are also likely to blame someone for any kind of mishap. By learning to be patient, one can cultivate the art of reigning in bad temper and hasty decision making.
Patience yields many good things. It is also a necessary ingredient of genius. Patience can solve problems, avert wars and disasters, and lead us to the path of truth. The power of patience leads us to self inspection, to the admission of errors and the capacity for forgiveness. A learned man tells us that misfortune can be turned into fortune through wisdom.
The acquisition of wisdom needs five steps. The first is patience, the second is listening, the third is understanding, the fourth is pondering and the fifth is practice- all qualities needed in a judge. To be patient one has to be humble. To cultivate patience, anger management plays a crucial role. “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty and he that rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
The world exists only because of self-restraint exercised by the mighty. Power coupled with impatience can be very dangerous. Leaders and Judges who are impulsive are greatly feared and are considered impractical. Anger begets violence and cannot be easily repressed. At times anger is provoked by misunderstanding and may actually have no basis in reason. Anger can be subverted with forgiveness.
One of the ways to be patient is through tolerance. Tolerance recognizes individuality and diversity; it removes divisiveness and diffuses tension created by ignorance. Tolerance is an inner strength, which enables the individual to face and overcome misunderstandings and difficulties. A tolerant person is like a tree with an abundance of fruits; even when pelted with sticks and stones, the tree gives its fruit in return. Without tolerance, patience is not possible. Tolerance is integral and essential to the realization of patience.