SC will have ‘neutral citation’ system, says CJI Chandrachud. What does that mean, and why is it important?
Context- Chief Justice of India (CJI D Y Chandrachud on Thursday (February 23) announced that the Supreme Court will adopt a “neutral citation system” for its judgments.
The CJI expressed hope that High Courts too would follow neutral citation for their judgments. The Delhi, Kerala, and Madras HCs have already introduced neutral citation.
To begin with, what is a “citation”?
- A case citation is essentially an identification tag for a judgment. Typically, it would contain a reference number, the year of the judgment, the name of the court that delivered that judgment, and a shorthand for the journal publishing the judgment.
And what is a neutral citation?
- A neutral citation would mean that the court would assign its own citation — distinct from those given by traditional Law Reporters. Law Reporters are periodicals or annual digests that publish judgments, often with an editorial note to make it accessible for lawyers to refer to precedents.
- For example, for the landmark Kesavananda Bharati case, the citation in ‘Supreme Court Cases’, a journal published by the Eastern Book Company, is (1973) 4 SCC 225. In the All India Reporter (AIR), the citation is AIR 1973 SC 1461.
So why is a neutral system good or necessary?
- Judgments mention citations while referring to precedents and often use citations from different Law Reporters. With artificial intelligence (AI) enabled translation of judgments and transcribing of court proceedings, a uniform citation is necessary.
- Several High Courts including Delhi High Court have started a neutral citation format. The Delhi HC neutral citation is, for example, in this format.
How will the SC implement the neutral citation system?
- “Our recent initiative is neutral citations for all judgments of the Supreme Court. So all 30,000 judgments are going to have neutral citations. First tranche will be till January 1, 2023, then the other tranche will be till judgments from 2014 and then finally we will go back to 1950. So all judgments will now have neutral citations,” the CJI said on February 23.
Source- Indian Express
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