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Neutral Citation System


Recently, Chief Justice of India (CJI) announced that the Supreme Court will adopt a “neutral citation system” for its judgments. The Delhi, Kerala, and Madras HCs have already introduced neutral citation.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a “citation”?
  2. What is a neutral citation?
  3. Why is a neutral system good or necessary?

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.

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.

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: No-YEAR/DHC/XXXXXX

-Source: Indian Express

March 2024