Law Reports and Law Reporting

Sister Justice Nagarathna, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Vikram Nath, Justice Maheshwari, Justice Ravi Kumar, Justice Shakdher, Justice Sikri, Justice K.K. Lahoti, Hon’ble Judges in the audience—great lawyers and academicians are always a source of strength in academic matters and administration—Mr Arvind Datar, Chief Editor Surendra Malik, Associate Editors Sumeet Malik, Sudeep Malik, Senior Advocates and other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen and media persons, I have been mandated to say a few words. So I don’t want to say much of the prepared text.

I will cut short and say one or two important issues which I think are relevant and necessary. I don’t want to discuss about any judgments, cases and all that. The first issue I want to discuss is, whether there is any relevance of or what is the necessity of, reporting of judgments (law reporting). It’s very necessary. The reason is that the people of the country must know what is happening and they must have access to the issues decided, the law decided and the cases which are going on. They must have access to accurate and authentic reporting. Also the waiting time should be reduced. The people of this country must know exactly what the judgment is. This is because now we have 24 × 7 channels, every minute reporting channels. And before we complete the sentence, we are seeing flash news and breaking news and all that. In the world flooded with a lot of information, there is a need for accurate reporting and authentic reporting. Otherwise, what is happening is that people are confused. There is a big problem, sorry to say.

Majority of the reportings don’t know what is the oral observation, what is the order, what is the judgment, and what is the question. If you ask one question, they say that the Judge has decided this, which is very unfortunate. Lawyers and Judges know, but the common man doesn’t know the way in which proceedings take place in courts. Suppose a Judge asks a question, a negative question, immediately it will be reported. This is very unfortunate. So that is the reason why I feel that there is a need to give accurate and honest reporting of judgments.

Of course, SCC is not concerned with this type of day-to-day reporting. But at least ultimately after a case is decided, the public must understand the facts of the case, the law decided and how the law would apply. The end result is the most important thing which everybody wants to know. So in that way a lot of contribution has been made by the SCC and EBC, and I congratulate them on this occasion. It is not a one-day effort. Three generations of the Malik Family have worked hard and they have created this prestigious organisation. They are part of the legal dispensation system. I congratulate them on behalf of the legal fraternity.

On this occasion, I would like to request Mr Malik to start a web magazine reporting day-to-day proceedings of the Supreme Court. The reason why I am making this request is because EBC has experienced people who know about the process, who know the law, the reason and intention behind the judgment. And so, people will get a good feel and understanding about the process. Please consider this request. I know it is a difficult thing, but consider this request*.

Supreme Court Cases occupies a prominent place among qualitative law journals. And we all know about the headnote and editorial. Apart from that, you can find a judgment in different ways. Through Index, by Judge’s name, by case name, by subject name you can verify the judgment immediately. And people like me who don’t understand much of the technology find it user-friendly. It’s a very good thing. It helps the legal practitioners as well as Judges. My clerks always appreciate that SCC Online is the single user resource which can be relied upon and immediately we can get the information necessary.

But the second issue which bothers me is the pricing, which is not a problem for urban area lawyers, city lawyers or corporate lawyers. The problem is with the rural lawyers, that is the district and taluk lawyers, because their income is very minimal. They are not in a position to afford the law journals. So please find a solution to provide some sort of access to these rural lawyers because they are at the grassroots level where they need a lot of legal knowledge. They are in formative places and so require a lot of support. Please consider this request. I know it is easy for me to say but difficult to put into action because it is all a matter of economics, money, but somehow you have to find out some solution if you can. It will help them a lot.

The third issue I want to discuss is about introducing important judgments in regional languages. SCC reports the constitutional courts—High Courts and the Supreme Court. Now, why I am saying this is that I am propagating two or three agendas of mine. Mine in the sense, in the interest of the institution, not personal agendas. One is infrastructure, the others are filling up vacancies and access to justice. And also, the lawyers and the public must know the constitutional provisions and the Constitution.

It is unfortunate, we are now celebrating 75 years of Independence. Still, only a few selected people in the urban areas or the legal professionals are aware of the constitutional rights, duties and the constitutional principles. If you take into consideration the European countries or America or wherever you go, you find that everyone from a small school kid to an old man talks about the Constitution and the rights and laws. So we need that type of culture. People of this country must know what the Constitution says, how they are entitled to their rights, how to implement their rights and how to know their duties.

So it is necessary for us, particularly for SCC and EBC, to try to introduce at least the important crux of selective judgments, not the entire judgments, in regional languages. Enabling access to selective judgments in regional languages with short headnotes and two to three pages reporting will give the opportunity to people to understand the important judgments of the Supreme Court or High Courts. It will be a little burdensome and involves finances also, I understand, but please consider this request.

I hope that some day the Government also will finance law reporting because they are now starting several projects of popularising the constitutional and consciousness schemes.

After working for 22 years as a Judge, I find that there is a need to think about the way of writing judgments. “Writing judgments” not in the sense of criticism. The judgments are very lengthy and like a thesis and one is unable to find out the exact core issue about which we are writing. So I request all the fraternity members as well as lawyers who are contributing to law and arguing cases to try to be simple in writing judgments. To use concise and precise short sentences while writing judgments. People must feel like they are reading a story. Ultimately, at the end of the day, the consumer of justice, the litigant public or whoever it is, must know what is the end result. That is more interesting rather than our own imaginations and philosophies. That way, I think we can help the common man a lot in understanding the judgment. The reasoning and conclusion of the judgment must be clear.

This is what I believe and I hope and trust this will happen. This is all I want to say. I thank the EBC Group as well as the Supreme Court Cases organisation and the Malik Family for giving me this opportunity. I thank all of you for patiently waiting and hearing me. I wish all the best to SCC and EBC. Thank you very much.

†The Former Chief Justice of India. Address delivered at the Release Ceremony of the SCC Pre-1969 Series, at the Claridges Hotel, New Delhi on 10-8-2022.

The article has been published with kind permission of SCC Online cited as (2024) 1 SCC J-5

*. Ed.: Day-to-day proceedings of the Supreme Court of India and other Courts and Tribunals are reported on the SCC OnLine Blog –

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