Milords, Why not infuse Full Value into Web Copies Please?                Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan

Milords, Why not infuse Full Value into Web Copies Please?

Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan




Never miss a crisis. The Pathogen Pandemic was a game changer.Judiciary, the world over has antiquated and archaic practices which it clings on to for dear life. Procedure is the handmaiden of justice. The self same law lords say it. But the one vaccine that was quickly up and running was the digital services that came with it , in these times. Filing went online. Court fee payments followed. Hearings were Virtual with even the Supreme Court and High Court judges came  into our drawing rooms.


Yet, the one or to be proper,  two issues have remained largely unattended. One is alluding to (i) indication of the date of uploading of the web or soft copy of the order

(be it of the constitutional courts or subordinate courts, barring in a few States as Maharashtra) and (ii) Full Cause Title of the judgments delivered in Daily Orders uploaded.


These two are critical faculties causing immense logistics issues to the practitioners’ and litigants. Impacting  period of limitation and compliances. The subordinate courts are still in the bullock cart age. The constitutional courts may seek to get on to Rolls Royce’ age. In the absence of – date of uploading of the web copy and the ‘full cause title’ ( names of parties to the cases), the web copies are not serving the purposes they are meant to. Subordinate courts have their ostrich heads in deep sand. They refuse to cross-verify for themselves from the websites. (They claim, it is not their ‘job’).


As it is, judiciary has its practices which are as old as the hills,  in the matter of issue of ‘certified copies’ of the orders. The practitioner has to keep track of date of delivery of judgment; apply for copies immediately: follow the ‘Notice Board’ which discloses/displays the date on which they are made ready ( mostly hand written and clogged with multiple numbers with parallax errors a certainty; deposit requisite court fee stamps for issue of the same ; and obtain delivery of the same in time. It would be a miracle every time.


Law reports are full of case-law from glitches in this regime, leading to ‘copy applications’ getting ‘struck off’ and then ‘restoration’ of the same taking its own twists and turns and being escalated to higher courts too, if the ‘delay’ was ‘inordinate’. Why all this fuss? No one knows. No one cares. Cannot the procedure be eased to the eternal benefit of the litigants? Has anyone looked into it. One wonders.


One recalls a visit to the chamber of Chief Justice M N Chandurkar, Madras High Court, along with Senior Advocate Mr. S Sampathkumaar ( back in 1980s). A representation was made to him to – amend the relevant rules to charge a nominal fee for issue of certified copies of judgments and decrees and levy it at the time of payment of court fees for the cause itself and deliver/ send them by RPAD. To dispense with the archaic procedure of applying for copies, following the ‘ Notice Board’, suffering ‘struck off’ and so on and so forth. As he was retiring within a day or two he promised to pass it on to his successor as his legacy. And thereby hangs a continuing saga…….


There came a huge respite in this ‘messy regime’ as  the late, lamented Justice V Ratnam, called it, during the Covid19 climes. ( Mind you, it has not gone away as its multiple variants are still in the horizon, pun intended). Web Copies came in handy. Courts readily accepted them. For, both seeking compliance and filing appeals or moving the court for any further orders.


The web copy regime was manna from heaven. No more need to apply for ‘certified copies’. No ‘stamps called for’: no following the crowded ‘Notice Board’ ; No ‘struck off’ ; no compulsion to seek ‘restoration’ and revisions to constitutional courts, when need arose et al. It was a huge relief to the litigants.


Web copies,  as downloaded from the court web sites eased the business of professional practice. The litigant could access and download the copies of verdicts. Yet, the twin issues continue to bedevil the judiciary. The Web Copies do not carry as a matter of rule (i) the date of uploading and (ii) and do not display the Full Cause title ( Daily Orders).


The said lacuna  are no minor irritants. They are major ones. They impact the ability/inability of litigants to seek or ensure compliance with orders in time or file appeals or seek reviews or whatever . The subordinate judiciary are least concerned with  cross verifying the authenticity of the orders submitted from the court web sites with water marks or the source . They insist on the age old practice of order copies carrying the twin requirements of viz. date of uploading and full cause title. In the absence of the these faculties, the Web Copy can well be a newspaper publication. Of no use to the practitioner/litigant except as information. Why should it be so?


Just a hop to US and UK reveal the following. The vast majority of cases filed in the US Supreme Court  ( SCOTUS) and State Courts are disposed of summarily by unsigned orders. Such an order will, for example, deny a petition for certiorari without comment. Regularly scheduled lists of orders are issued on each Monday that the Court sits, but “miscellaneous” orders may be issued in individual cases at any time. Scheduled order lists are posted on this Website on the day of their issuance, while miscellaneous orders are posted on the day of issuance or the next day. There will be on-site indicators as to the date on which the judgments were delivered and published or uploaded/posted.


As a matter of rule and practice, UK Supreme Court judgments are published on Wednesdays on the Court website. They are currently being published on Fridays at 09.45 am. Date of delivery of judgments and date of uploading/publication on-site are available on the website.


Faced with these daunting ‘frailties’ a representation was made before Justice G R Swaminathan who made the following observation  in Preetam Granites case in W.P.(MD)Nos.9241 & 9236 of 2020 dt. 04.09.2020. before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court.


“ 8.In the operative portion, the respondents have been given six weeks’ time to comply with the direction. The period will start running from the date of receipt of copy of the order. Following the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, the web copies of the court orders are also treated on par with certified copies. Shri.N.Vijayaraghavan, Advocate brought to my notice a serious lacuna. The web copy does not contain the date on which it was uploaded. In the seals affixed on the certified copies, the date on which the copy is made ready is mentioned. It is from that date, limitation starts running. Unless the web copies contain this data, it will not be possible to compute the limitation period for filing appeals, compliance etc., The learned counsel also suggested that there can be a water mark in the uploaded copy for lending authenticity. He brought to my notice that in Bombay High Court, the uploading and downloading dates are captured in the web copy. I am of the view that this issue merits serious consideration. Registry is directed to place the papers before the Hon’ble Administrative Judge so that the matter may be brought to the kind attention of My Lord The Hon’ble Chief Justice.”


One is aware that it was escalated to the then Chief Justice. One knows not what has come of it. The second issue with regard to absence of Full Cause Title in Daily Orders also keeps arising as the subordinate courts simply refuse to cross verify on the  concerned court website on the authenticity of orders and insist on what they continue to insist. Technological advancements hardly matter to them. They have their ‘checklist’ to follow and adhere to and they steadfast refuse to pivot from their stance. Hence this piece.


Read these instances to get a grip on hiw serious the issues are. It impacts limitation period and personal rights and interests of the litigants. Noting the submission that the impugned judgment was pronounced on 24th January, 2018 but was uploaded on the Patna High Court website on 1st May, 2019 after a delay of 733 days, the Supreme Court issued directions to the Registrar-General of Patna High Court to explain the delay, on 19th Pct,2020.  ( What happened?).


And on 31st March,2022- this happened. The Supreme Court recently deprecated the course adopted by the Allahabad High Court in delaying the uploading of the final judgment in a case for nearly 4 months after the dictation of the operative portion.”What emerges is something which we cannot countenance.”. On both occasions Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M M Sundresh were presiding over the proceedings.


Why should such state of affairs continue? Even if the orders were uploaded with a delay, could they not be uploaded with the date of uploading and Full Cause title – even in Daily Orders-to not prejudice the interests of the practitioner and litigant?


Is it too much to ask for such a simple Vaccine.


Hence, this PIL sort of representation to Mi Lords- Why not look into simple issue of infusing full value into Web Copies PLEASE?


( Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court)





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