Image credit: Scroll.in, September 26, 2017
This is the sixth blog piece in our series entitled “Those Were the Days”, which is published monthly. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we have enjoyed putting this together.
The need for “rule of law” to prevail is repeatedly espoused by today’s social and political commentators. In light of this, it is important to revisit the origin of the doctrine of “rule of law”, and understand how it originated, so as to fully appreciate its significance and meaning.
In 1676, Sir Mathew Hale, the then Chief Justice of King’s Bench (1671-76), set out 18 tenets for dispensing of justice. The sixth tenet read as follows,
“That I suffer not myself to be possessed with any judgment at all till the whole business of both parties be heard.”
This very sound principle has two fundamental requirements.
The first is that the judge ought not to be predisposed to either one of the adversarial parties, and should not form a view on the merits of the matter before him until all the parties are heard. This of course is very difficult to do given that all persons including judges are bound to have their own views, opinions and preferences. However, through the ages the hallmark of an eminent member of the judiciary is the manner in which he/she overcomes inherent prejudices so as to ensure that the judicial adjudication is based only on the law, the facts based only on evidence on record before the court, and the interplay of the facts in relation to the law.