The Chief Justice of India (CJI) has announced that the Supreme Court will adopt a “neutral citation system” for its judgments.
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 decision, the name of the court that delivered that judgment, and shorthand for the journal publishing the judgment.
What is a neutral citation?
A neutral citation is a form of citation where courts assign a unique sequential number to each decision.
This 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.
Why is a neutral system excellent or necessary?
Judgments mention citations while referring to precedents and often use citations from different Law Reporters.
With artificial intelligence (AI) enabling the 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.
The objective is to enable people to identify cases and text in them by reference to a single, unvarying reference, no matter the medium of publication.