If reading statutes is all, robots would be judges: Chief Justice Mohit Shah

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SummaryLess than a week of a magistrate from Palghar in Thane being transferred on “administrative grounds” days after a row over the arrest of two girls for posting a Facebook comment, Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Mohit Shah on Sunday said judges while maintaining consistency, should apply the law according to facts and circumstances of each case and use their “sensitivity and common sense”.

Less than a week of a magistrate from Palghar in Thane being transferred on “administrative grounds” days after a row over the arrest of two girls for posting a Facebook comment, Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Mohit Shah on Sunday said judges while maintaining consistency, should apply the law according to facts and circumstances of each case and use their “sensitivity and common sense”.

Addressing a gathering of around 250 judges from magistrate and district courts from the state, at Uttan in Thane, Chief Justice Shah said, “If it was only about reading provisions of a statute, judging would have been left to robots and machines.”

The Bombay HC had transferred Ramchandra Bagade, Joint Civil Judge, Junior Division and Judicial Magistrate First Class, Palghar to Pachora in Jalgaon district last week on “administrative grounds”. The transfer came a week after the girls from Palghar, arrested on November 18 for posting an FB comment criticising the shutdown after the death of Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray, were produced in Bagade’s court. Incidentally, Bagade had also granted bail to 10 Shiv Sainiks accused of vandalising the clinic of the uncle of one of the girls.

Speaking at the launch of a project, ‘Disseminating Knowledge Among Judicial Officers’, at the Maharashtra Judicial Academy (MJA) and the Indian Mediation Centre and Training Institute at Uttan, Chief Justice Shah said the same sections of the law would apply to a father who breaks a chair at a hospital after his only child dies, and to “twenty hooligans who damage an operation theatre.”

“The facts are different but the section (of the law) is the same,” CJ Shah said. He said a judge may grant bail in the first case, but has to think before he grants bail in the second. “Only to get consistency, you don’t stop applying your mind,” he said.

To drive home his point, he cited Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code that spares an accused of the charges of homicide and books him for culpable homicide not amounting to murder if his act is preceded by “sudden and grave” provocation.

“There was a man whose mother taunted him for not earning money when he asked for food. He got angry and hit his mother with a stick and she died. You would apply the fourth exception in this case because there is sudden and grave provocation,” he

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