Reasons to believe: Why it is necessary to be recorded

Free Content

Table of Contents

73. In Kranti Associates v. Masood Ahmed Khan (2010) 9 SCC 496, the legal position was summarized as under:

―51. Summarizing the above discussion, this Court holds:

a.    In India the judicial trend has always been to record reasons, even in administrative decisions, if such decisions affect anyone prejudicially.

b.    A quasi-judicial authority must record reasons in support of its conclusions.

c.     Insistence on recording of reasons is meant to serve the wider principle of justice that justice must not only be done it must also appear to be done as well.

d.    Recording of reasons also operates as a valid restraint on any possible arbitrary exercise of judicial and quasi-judicial or even administrative power.

e.    Reasons reassure that discretion has been exercised by the decision maker on relevant grounds and by disregarding extraneous considerations.

f.     Reasons have virtually become as indispensable a component of a decision-making process as observing principles of natural justice by judicial, quasi-judicial and even by administrative bodies.

g.    Reasons facilitate the process of judicial review by superior Courts.

h.    The ongoing judicial trend in all countries committed to rule of law and constitutional governance is in favor of reasoned decisions based on relevant facts. This is virtually the life blood of judicial decision making justifying the principle that reason is the soul of justice.

i.      Judicial or even quasi-judicial opinions these days can be as different as the judges and authorities who deliver them. All these decisions serve one common purpose which is to demonstrate by reason that the relevant factors have been objectively considered. This is important for sustaining the litigants’ faith in the justice delivery system.

j.     Insistence on reason is a requirement for both judicial accountability and transparency.

k.    If a Judge or a quasi-judicial authority is not candid enough about his/her decision-making process then it is impossible to know whether the person deciding is faithful to the doctrine of precedent or to principles of incrementalism.

l.      Reasons in support of decisions must be cogent, clear and succinct. A pretense of reasons or `rubber-stamp reasons’ is not to be equated with a valid decision-making process.

m. It cannot be doubted that transparency is the sine qua non of restraint on abuse of judicial powers. Transparency in decision making not only makes the judges and decision makers less prone to errors but also makes them subject to broader scrutiny. (See David Shapiro in Defense of Judicial Candor (1987) 100 Harvard Law Review 731-737).

n.    Since the requirement to record reasons emanates from the broad doctrine of fairness in decision making, the said requirement is now virtually a component of human rights and was considered part of Strasbourg Jurisprudence. See (1994) 19 EHRR 553, at 562 para 29 and Anya vs. University of Oxford, 2001 EWCA Civ 405, wherein the Court referred to Article 6 of European Convention of Human Rights which requires, “adequate and intelligent reasons must be given for judicial decisions”.

o.    In all common law jurisdictions judgments play a vital role in setting up precedents for the future. Therefore, for development of law, requirement of giving reasons for the decision is of the essence and is virtually a part of “Due Process”

72. Reasons to believe cannot be a rubber stamping of the opinion already formed by someone else. The officer who is supposed to write down his reasons to believe has to independently apply his mind. Further, and more importantly, it cannot be a mechanical reproduction of the words in the statute. When an authority judicially reviewing such a decision peruses such reasons to believe, it must be apparent to the reviewing authority that the officer penning the reasons has applied his mind to the materials available on record and has, on that basis, arrived at his reasons to believe. The process of thinking of the officer must be discernible. The reasons have to be made explicit. It is only the reasons that can enable the reviewing authority to discern how the officer formed his reasons to believe.

Scroll to Top