The decision is meant to avoid confusion arising out of a single case being cited by different people in a number of different ways due to reliance upon different sources to read reported case laws.
DAYS after taking the decision to transcribe the proceedings before Constitution benches of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) has decided to implement a uniform, reliable and secure methodology known as ‘Neutral Citation System’ for identifying and citing all its judgments. The system, says the Supreme Court, will make it easier for courts to publish the judgements in public domain by consistently citing judicial decisions.
“‘Neutral Citation’ would be a Court’s approved system of citation, which would be independent of the series of Law Reports or other publications, and unique to each decision. Every order and judgment (reportable and non-reportable) of the Supreme Court of India would have a citation of its own, facilitating easy identification, referencing and retrieval thereof“, states the Public Relations Office (PRO) of the Supreme Court, in a press note released yesterday.
As regards live data, that is, orders and judgments with effect from January 1, 2023, they will be assigned neutral citation at the time of their publishing on the official website. The legacy data for judgments and orders shall be considered for seeding neutral citations retrospectively.
The PRO states that, “Access to case law is an important facet of the rule of law. It helps in providing transparency and predictability concerning the settled legal position. It also aids in enhancing public scrutiny, education, academic research and development of law. This initiative of Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India will revolutionize the pattern in which the citations operate. Such access to citations, which was so far available only to the subscription holders of private law-reporters, would now be available to everyone free of cost’ in the reformed and indigenous form of ‘Neutral Citations’.”
CJI Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud directed the development of this mechanism for standardising citations, particularly for easing the adjudicatory process and to avoid confusion arising out of a single case being cited by different people in a number of different ways, as they may rely upon different sources to read the reported case laws.
A sub-committee for formulating a standard national model for neutral citations for judgments rendered by the Supreme Court and high courts, was constituted by CJI. The sub-committee invited suggestions, deliberated upon various facets of a neutral citation system, and ultimately decided that a uniform national model of generating and allocating neutral citation should be adopted.
In October last year, the Delhi High Court and the Kerala High Court adopted schemes for neutral citations for their orders and judgments.