QUALITIES OF A GOOD JUDGE
Judiciary and justice lies to the centre of any democratic country. It is the only means through which a check on the limitless powers of the executive and the legislative could be exercised. A working and effective court can ensure that the nation remains a welfare state and should not turn into a police or a military state. The rights of citizens are ensured only through a good functioning judiciary. In India, Supreme Court has been regarded as the highest court of order and has been declared as the custodian and protector of Fundamental Rights guaranteed to the Indian Citizens. Also, the Preamble to the Indian Constitution mentions that social, economical and political justice should be ensured to all citizens and non-citizens of India. Having of such importance, it is important that judges should follow the principles of natural justice.
While talking about qualities of a judge, one thing that generally pop-up is that a judge should be biased. The other quality is judicial temperament. It is referred to as the ability to correctly apply the law based on the stated facts and also to understand that how the decision will affect the daily lives of human beings. The temperament also refers to the general ability to effectively understand the communication with counsel, juror, witnesses and also considering all aspects of the issue to give the best possible judgment that would help mankind in general. The other inherited qualities that a judge should exhibit, under the judicial temperament, are open-mindedness, courage, tact, courtesy, patience, understanding, punctuality, firmness, humility, common sense and compassion. All these qualities should be reflected and demonstrated consistently in every judgment. A judge should be able to communicate others with sensitivity and without giving offense and to handle personal stress. He/She should be able to understand the responsibility he/she has been entitled to, and is of a highly respectable governmental position of public trust. Also, he/she should be able to understand, that stress, criticism and scrutiny are very inherent part of the job.
Apart from having a basic judicial temperament, basic intelligence becomes mandatory. This means having the sound understanding of law, ability to legally analyses procedures and quick in comprehending, perceiving and understanding the new concept and ideas and implementing them in the judgment. Also, being at such powerful position, ethics should be followed to its highest level. There should be no doubt about applicant’s personal and professional ethics. A judge should maintain the set of standards and rules that maintains his dignity and impartiality. Also, he/she should be able to follow ethical principles and abide by the principle of natural justice. A judge should be able to demonstrate a high set of skills backed by personal moral values that makes him different from the general citizens.
Integrity and courage is another set of factors that a judge needs to follow. The courage, here defines the willingness to follow and adopt those rules that are correct and are generally not followed by popular culture. Integrity refers to not delivering judgment based on race, gender, identity, political status, wealth and relationships. In general terms, it can be termed as not doing what judge knows to be wrong. The other quality that backs up integrity and courage of the judge is his experience and education. A well experienced judge is able to select what law is to be applied and where it should be applied in order to deliver a better judgment. The amount of experience also helps in following ethical principles and making the judgment that would help mankind in general. However, lack of experience should not be combined with other criteria particularly intelligence and judicial temperament and it should be considered that these qualities will also lag with the judge who is not experienced.
As the position of the judge faces so much scrutiny and provided the number of cases pending in the Indian court, a judge should be able to overcome the workload of the court. His work should always be to provide judgment in a fast but proper way. As rightly pointed out, justice hurried is justice buried. For a faster judgment, it is necessary that a judge should be updated to the current developments of the society. He/She should also be updated with the legal education and legal provisions that change over time to time. Also, a judge should be able to accept new changes, evolving idea and dynamics of law. A judge who is willing to continue his legal education through various means is always considered as one who will deliver most perfect judgment.
The most important quality of a judge is his ability to communicate with others. The ability of communication in a clear, concise and grammatically correct manner remains at the core of all quality. As Indian law needs a broader interpretation, the strong oral and written skills play an important role in the delivery of judgment. It should be noted that while all judge cannot be selected on the basis of being a public speaker, few should be. Also, the general responsibility towards the society must be understood by every judge. Every judge has a civic and professional responsibility, which creates a better image of the entire judiciary in the entire country.
As we know, healthy mind in a healthy body, therefore, the health of a judge should always be well. A judge should be in well physical and mental condition to execute duties of the office. It has been observed that long history of illnesses, migraine headaches, poor attendance in the present job and other chronic syndrome reflects the judgment delivery capacity of the judge. Another important quality of a judge should be his character and appearance in public. He should have a positive reputation in every strata of the society. A judge, who is free of any kind of indictment in immoral acts of indiscretions, is believed to deliver a positive and unbiased judgment. A strong judicial system is formed by judges who are of best quality and experience, so that every judgment delivered reflects the opinion of the society.