Take Pride in Being a Judge: Justice D.K. Upadhyaya [Read Full Lecture]

Recently, the Judicial Training and Research Institute (JTRI) U.P. Lucknow conducted an online orientation programme for newly inducted Judges in Subordinate Courts.

On this occasion Hon’ble Justice D.K. Upadhyaya of Allahabad High Court, delivered his lecture on the topic of “Qualities of Judges”

The purpose of this program was to acquaint the Trainee Officers with the rich tradition of this service and instill amongst them the importance and necessity of inculcating, as a habit, the virtues and qualities which defines the character of a Judge in consonance with the ideals and objectives of the Constitution of India.

Following is the Text of Lecture by Hon’ble Shri Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya 

Chairman of the Institute, Hon’ble Justice Mehbood Ali Sahab; Director Mrs. Saroj Yadav; all the Additional Directors; Faculty Members; and dear participants.

I have always liked to have personal interaction with the newly appointed Judges coming to our fold. But in these difficult times, I am compelled to address you through this mode.

First of all, let me welcome all the newly appointed members of the U.P. Judicial Services and all other members appointed to U.P. Higher Judicial Service. Welcome to you all to have joined our fraternity.

On this occasion, while welcoming you, I am not supposed to deliver or give you any lecture on the subjects in which you have already qualified by appearing through selection examination. 

Difference Between Educated and Trained

Now there is some difference between ‘education’ and ‘training’. You are not being educated here, rather you are being imparted some training. Education you have always had while attending your classes, law classes, other classes, but once you have been selected to act as a Judge, to serve as a Judge, you need to enhance your skills. So ‘training’ basically is ‘enhancement of skills’. It is a sort of practice which you are subjected to so that you are able to harness your knowledge into developing yourself as a good and purposeful Judge.

Somethings I would like to address today to all the newly appointed Judges. They may be members of the Nyayik Sewa or Higher Judicial Service.

Those who have joined Higher Judicial Service must have had some experience of the courts function. However, this opportunity is not available to the members of U.P. Nyayik Sewa. But having been appointed as Judge, your role in the society gets altered, it gets changed. Now what is this change, what is this transformation or if I may say so, what is this metamorphosis. That will be rather my endeavor to make you understand this transformation from a citizen of this society into a serving Judge.

A Judge is not Government Servant

I have always held this as an idea, as my belief that a serving Judge, is not a Government Servant. You have to always differentiate that you are not into any ordinary Government Service. 

The expectations from you is entirely different than the expectations from the members of the other sections of the state, may be executive or even the legislature. 

When I say, you are not a Government Servant, the distinction lies in this – you must understand that we are a rule of law society. Now what is a ‘rule of law society’ or what is ‘rule of law’, what does it mean.

‘Rule of Law’ means something which is opposed to ‘rule of will’ or ‘rule of whims’. Your ‘will’ or ‘whim’ will not dictate your conduct in discharge of your duties as a Judge.

You are a different lot than the members of the executive in a sense that you have been entrusted with certain functions which are sovereign in nature i.e. function of dispensation of justice. 

What is dispensation of justice?

Broadly speaking to give every member of the society his or her due is dispensation of justice. It is not that it is only the members of the judiciary who are expected to administer justice. The organs of the State, the executive, the legislature, are also expected to deliver justice, dispense with justice. However, this responsibility of dispensation of justice is more onerous on the members of the judiciary and this distinction you must always bear in mind.

For this there are 2-3 advises, which being elder to you in the profession, I may be permitted to give.

Take Pride of Being a Judge

The first advise to all the newly appointed Judges is that they must always, first of all, start taking pride in being a Judge. Unless and until you have the sense of pride of being a Judge, you will not be able to differentiate your role than the role being performed by other organs of the state. 

You cannot escape by saying that you also come from the same society where there is a lot of deterioration day by day. This excuse is not available to certain sections of the society. You cannot expect such an excuse if there is a deterioration generally in the society and you do not live on an island, therefore, you can’t be affected by such deterioration. 

As I said, there are certain sections of society from whom the expectations of the society are bigger, larger and a way different. Expectation from a teacher, expectation from a doctor, expectation, similarly, from a lawyer or expectation from a member of the judiciary cannot be equated with the expectation which the society has from a Government Servant. You perform sovereign functions, as I said, and at the same time you should also bear in mind that your function is divine in nature. The kind of reverence, the kind of respect which the society gives to you is rare. It is not available to any other defined sections of society.

Now, in this regard, I may tell you two very interesting anecdotes which a former Director of this Institute told me, is now a High Court Judge.

Once I had come to deliver a lecture on certain topics to the Judges here of the district judiciary, then I had the opportunity to enquire or ask the then Director as to what made him think to join this service.

Now what he tells me is very very interesting. 

Respect to a Munsif

He told me that he belongs to a very small city, rather a kasba, which had an outline court, a Munsif’s Court, and whenever any new Munsif joined in that Kasba, in that outline court, then all the persons coming across him used to just pay him so much of regard that by observing the newly appointed Munsif and the kind of respect and reverence which he received, the Director, as he then was, was overwhelmed.

He also told me that in his kasba there were only two grocers’ shop and if a newly appointed Munsif, for the first time, for buying some grocery items, went to one of the grocers’ shop, the other grocer, I mean the first one where the Munsif went to buy the grocery, he used to mock the other grocer, “look here Mr. the Munsif came to me and not to you”. So that was the kind of reverence which the members of judiciary have always enjoyed and, therefore, this respect demands something from you in return as well.

Another very interesting anecdote is that – one of the Judicial Officer, he was posted in District Sonbhadra, when I just asked him as to how is the atmosphere there, what is the conduct of the lawyers in general and the litigants, what he told me is something astonishing in these days. He told me that when a litigant comes to the court, and if he is wearing some footwear, he will take that footwear out off him and only then he entered the court.

So this kind of reverence, this kind of respect, this kind of honor, which is accorded to a deity in a temple, is accorded to a Judicial Officer and, therefore, when I say that he should start taking pride in being a Judicial Officer, what I mean is that he should not become self-obsessed or proud. Just take pride in being a Judicial Officer and, therefore, after you receive so much of reverence and respect and honor from the general public, then it becomes your duty not to, in any manner, lessen the faith and trust of the general public.

What I have noticed once you join the judicial service, there starts a comparison with your counterpart in the executive. In the sense that you see so many things attached with an executive office which you find missing attached with your office. But then that is the kind of office you enjoy, you occupy and you can never compare yourself with the status of an executive officer for the simple reason that they do not enjoy any power or authority where they can dispense with justice to the people the manner in which you are expected to do.

In any society, be it a dictatorship, or a monarchy, or a military rule, or a democracy, democracies of different kinds, life and liberty are the two most precious things which any individual enjoys. Just see the enormity of authority which the society has vested in you. You are empowered, you have the authority to curtail this right and liberty, both, of an individual.

Just imagine, you have this authority to curtail or take away this right of liberty and life both, of course under certain circumstances lawfully only, but then just think that this authority, this kind of power, is not available, it is not vested by the society in any other member of the society or any other section of the society. So once you have been vested with such enormous power and authority, you have to bear in your mind that this authority or power has to be exercised with more responsibility. More the power more the responsibility.

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Some author or some political thinker has said that if you have to test a person’s character, then give him power. The way he will exercise his power, that will be the determining factor of testing his character. So more the power, more the responsibility is the saying.

So, therefore, the kind of power and authority which you enjoy has to give in return to the society something which the society expects from you.

These are some initial thoughts about you joining as a Judge.

In your working you will come across so many situations. Most of you have had some experience of working in the court. Some of you must have perhaps not been very happy. A kind of disappointment may have been there because of the situations prevailing in the courts. 

Sometimes because of the non-cooperation or the kind of cooperation which is expected to be extended by the lawyers is absent. There are so many reasons, some of you may not have got the official residences. You must be struggling to arrange a decent accommodation. But these are not the things which should come in your way while discharging your duties as a Judge. 

As I said the expectations of this society from a Judge is different than from any other section of the society. While working as a Judge, what should be your endeavor. In the beginning as I told you, dispensation of justice means giving everyone his or her due. So that should be your endeavor. Dispensation of justice in accordance with law, not in accordance with your will or whim. Now this is very important. When I say dispensation of justice not according to your will or whim, rather in accordance with law, what does that mean. It simply means that you have to serve the people, you have to serve the litigant, who is the most important stakeholder in this justice dispensation system in accordance with law.

Distinct Culture and Background

Every individual, newly appointed Judge, comes from a different background, different educational background, different social background, different kind of political thought which you might have nurtured while growing, different caste, different creed, different region, speaking a different dialect of same language, or a different language, so everybody has a baggage which he carries behind him. 

But my advise to all of you is that this baggage should be removed the day you join as a Judge, you sit in the court, this kind of baggage which everybody carries, this baggage is natural, because of the background as I told you, because of the difference in so many social circumstances, but then carrying this baggage once you become a Judge or once you adorn the office of a Judge, should be shunned. 

You should not carry any kind of baggage. This can happen only once you view a particular fact situation which is brought before you, as a Judge, objectively and only and only in accordance with the law which you have to administer. The same situation can be viewed differently provided there are different yardsticks. If your yardstick to judge a particular situation is your background, background of caste, creed, language, region, social background, educational background, then the judgment is going to be different. So you have to take it off you all kinds of baggage, your background, even your personal faith, personal commitments, personal ideologies, personal philosophies, should be kept aside. Only then you will be able to prove yourself as a Judge the society expects.

Independence of judiciary

Now this ensures two things, first dispensation of justice in accordance with law and independence of judiciary. When we use the phrase ‘independence of judiciary’, it does not merely mean that judiciary should be independent of the executive or the legislature. It should be independent of every other thing, other than law. It should be divorced with every other thing other than law including your personal philosophies, personal faiths, personal political leanings, personal political thoughts or ideas. Only then you can prove a true and competent and a good Judge.

Keep the Enthusiasm Going

All of you are pretty young in the process of learning things. What happens when a professional or anybody joining a service is new. He has some kind of enthusiasm. But as you become older, you become more experienced, that enthusiasm vanishes. So you have to check that the enthusiasm with which you have joined the service recently, you are able to carry it till you retire. 

Curse of an Old Lady to the Judge

About enthusiasm, I would like to narrate another anecdote, which I heard from a member of the judiciary rather than the district judiciary of the State of Uttar Pradesh. What he told me is that once he joined as a Munsif he was posted in some small town. He was the lone Judge there. There was only one court. After conducting his court throughout the day what he used to do was that he used to take a round of the entire court campus, for two purposes – one by taking a round of the whole campus he used to come across if there are any lacking in the campus which can be corrected, which can be remedied ; and also whether any litigant is still there who has not been heard or he has something which he expected.

Now, once he was taking a round under a tree he found an old lady crying. He went to that lady and asked – what happened – उन्होंने कहा की अम्मा क्या हुआ आपको? तो वो वृद्धा ने ये बताया की देखिये इस कचेहरी में एक बहुत मुश्किल जज आ गए हैं, बहुत क्रूर जज आ गए हैं, वो हमारे बेटे को बैल ग्रांट नहीं कर रहे हैं. Just imagine he was the same Judge who was hearing curses from that old lady. 

That old lady told him also that – ‘I have nobody other than my son who is in jail. Bail is not being granted. What to do. I don’t have anything to eat. I don’t have any space to sleep. What should I do”. 

Then that very Judge who was being cursed takes that old lady to his house, asks that lady to stay with the family and he gave her food. That lady stayed there for a week or ten days. Every day when the Judge’s wife used to ask – अम्मा क्या हाल हैं, कैसी हो. तो अम्मा का ये कहना होता था की भाई मुझे यहाँ सब कुछ सुविधा है. खाना है. सब कुछ है. लेकिन जज बहुत जालिम है. वो हमारे बेटे को बैल नहीं ग्रांट कर रहा है. 

So after 15-20 days or a month when ultimately the bail was granted, then that lady left the Judge’s house, still cursing. But see the conduct of the Judge. He did not deviate from the law. He did his job but at the same time he was so compassionate that even after being cursed he nurtured that old lady, as he gave her food and shelter.

So this kind of enthusiasm every newly appointed Judge must be having at the moment, I am sure. But this enthusiasm by and by, with the more experience you gain, with the more years you put in as a Judge, that somehow it vanishes. It keeps on vanishing. 

So मेरा आग्रह ये रहेगा की ये enthusiasm तब तक ख़तम नहीं होना चाहिए जब तक आप जुडिशल सर्विस में बने हैं. क्योंकि इसी enthusiasm के बल पर, इसी के प्रभाव में, आप कुछ ऐसे कार्य कर जायेंगे जैसे जज साहब की कहानी मैंने आपको सुनाई की आपको लोग याद रहेंगे.

What is the most important attribute of a Judge?

Whenever I have interacted with the Judges, I have asked them a question as to what is the most important attribute of a Judge. Now various kinds of answers I have been hearing. Somebody says he should be honest, he should be laborious, he should not shirk away from his responsibilities. 

All these attributes are expected from a Judge, but to my mind what is most important is that a Judge should be impartial. Now how can you be impartial. Impartiality does not mean being indifferent. It does not mean as I say being indifferent. You can’t be indifferent as a Judge. 

You are expected to act, therefore, you can’t be indifferent. There is no room of indifference in the life of a Judge. But at the same time while acting, while reacting to a fact situation given before you in the form of a case, you have to act but you have to act impartially. Now this impartiality is to my mind is the greatest retribute a Judge should always have.

How do you inculcate impartiality?

First of all to be impartial, for being impartial, you have to give away all kinds of prejudices which you carry because of your background as I said initially. You have to give up all kinds of prejudices and you have to act strictly in accordance with law and of course with a sense of fairness. 

Fairness necessarily includes giving opportunity of explaining, of hearing the person in respect of whom you are conducting a trial, you are conducting some enquiry, you are conducting some case, you are hearing a suit. So anything you are doing has to manifest fairness which can be ensured by giving adequate opportunity as required by law. So fairness and being impartial are the two most important attribute of a Judge.

Thirdly, integrity of a person as  a Judge is also equally important, if not more. Integrity of a Judge is not negotiable, it is non-negotiable. You cannot just afford not to maintain the integrity expected of a Judge. As I earlier told you your functions are divine in nature. 

They are full of divinity. How can you instill trust, how can you maintain trust of the people in the judicial system, by being fair to everyone coming to you. When I say ‘by being fair’ I mean you have to act with a sense of equality to all the persons, to all the litigants, to all the stakeholders in a case which comes before you.

So these are some of very astray thoughts which come to my mind. I wish would have an opportunity to address you face to face. But in this pandemic caused by COVID-19, this is the only mode available and this also gives me an opportunity to say something about use of technology.

Now the current generation of Judges are better and worse with the technology which they can employ in achieving their objectives. Use of technology is going to grow more and more. So make better use of technology and accomplish the job entrusted to you by the society.

Judges being tactful.

Many a times, while sitting in the court, so many peculiar situations arise that you are sometimes gum stuck as to what to do. Now here you need to be tactful. You don’t need to annoy any of the parties, any of the lawyers, any of the litigants coming to you. You have to be very very polite, humble, but at the same time firm, firm in your views, firm in your decisions, firm in your order, but be tactful and be polite and be humble and I tell you my experience shows that Bar will never be a problem. 

Though all sorts of people form the Bar these days. But still you are master of the court. It is you who run the court. Do not ever allow anyone to overpower the proceedings in your court because you are the Presiding Officer and as Presiding Officer the key to run the proceedings smoothly lies in your hands. 

Never ever allow yourself to be overpowered or browbeaten. But this you cannot do by indulging in some kind of duo with the lawyer or the litigant. You can achieve this aspect of your Judgeship only by being very very humble, very very polite, very very tactful but you need not, while being polite, you need not given, you have to be very firm in your decisions, very firm in your order, and I hope this has been my experience that you will succeed winning hearts of the litigant as well as the lawyers.


Now in the end I would like to sum up. The first thing which I told you and you must always bear in mind is that you have to start taking pride in being a Judge, only then you will be able to discharge your duties and functions as a Judge in a fruitful and true manner. Secondly the enormity of power, the authority vested in you, has to be exercised with the sense of responsibility. Now any power if you exercise being power charged, you are bound to fail. You have to be duty conscious. So these two phrases ‘power charged’ versus ‘duty conscious’, this difference has to be always born by all the judicial officers while discharging their functions in the court and outside the court.

One another very important aspect of a life of a Judge is his life off the dias, outside the court. There are so many temptations around, around everybody, around every individual. But as a Judge you have to learn what we call ‘judicial aloofness’. You should never allow yourself to mingle with the litigant, with the lawyer, with the district administration officers, with the Police officers or for that matter any one not related to your fraternity. So this ‘judicial aloofness’ should also be maintained because only once you are aloof and detached from the rest of the society, that you will be able to fruitfully or in a true manner exercise your functions as a judicial officer.

Thank you.

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