Comparing Misra & Gogoi: Avg. Length of Last 10 Judgments
A comparative analysis of the length of judgments authored by Ranjan Gogoi and Dipak Misra JJ.
When contrasting former Chief Justice Dipak Misra and current Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, one notable difference is that Ranjan Gogoi CJI writes shorter judgments. We averaged the length of ret’d CJI Misra’s last 10 authored judgments and compared it to that of CJI Gogoi’s last 10 authored judgments.:
|No.||Ret’d CJI Misra||CJI Gogoi|
|1||20,700 words||13,200 words|
|2||2,200 words||1,800 words|
|3||2,100 words||10,500 words|
|4||13,700 words||6,600 words|
|5||7,200 words||6,300 words|
|6||22,300 words||7,800 words|
|7||6,900 words||2,800 words|
|8||2,600 words||5,000 words|
|9||600 words||1,400 words|
|10||8,200 words||7,100 words|
|AVG||8,650 words||6,250 words|
Data sourced from SCC Online. Word count rounded to nearest hundred.
Ret’d CJI Misra writes on average 8,650 words, whereas CJI Gogoi writes on average 6,250 words. Gogoi CJI’s average is 27.75% less than CJI Misra’s.
Why is this relevant? Judgments set legal precedent. As such, the reasoning a Justice uses to arrive at their verdict is crucial. This is especially true of landmark Constitution Bench (CB) judgments. Misra CJI ‘s CB judgments are on average around 5000 words longer than those of CJI Gogoi. Gogoi J’s shorter CB judgments tend to avoid ambiguities. Gogoi, in writing succinctly, explicitly states his reasoning. In contrast, ret’d CJI Misra’s more lengthy judgments allow him to stray away from the central legal issues at hand. CJI Misra’s CB judgments often begin with lengthy platitudes and metaphors. In contrast, Gogoi CJI limits himself to shorter CB judgments, thereby CJI prohibits himself from spending paragraphs philosophizing on the general state of humanity.
Further, Supreme Court Justices do not only write judgments for the judiciary, but also for the public at large. Their judgments fulfill a public reasoning function. In general, an average citizen will find a shorter judgment more accessible.
We will have to see if the average length of Gogoi CJI’s judgments increases now that he is Chief Justice. We can expect that CJI Ranjan Gogoi will sit on a higher proportion of CBs and his CB judgments are his longest judgments by far. It will be interesting to see what proportion of Benches he sits on are CBs. In his first week in charge, he made it clear that he intends to prioritize reducing pendency over hearing fundamental rights PILs. He is unlikely to form as many CBs as ret’d CJI Dipak Misra did.