The Supreme Court recently passed a general order directing its registry, all High Courts and subordinate courts to stop the practice of mentioning the caste or religion of litigants in case papers.
A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah observed that the practice should be shunned and stopped immediately.
“We see no reason for mentioning the caste/religion of any litigant either before this Court or the courts below. Such a practice is to be shunned and must be ceased forthwith … A direction is also issued to all the High Courts to ensure that the caste/religion of a litigant does not appear in the memo of parties in any petition/suit/proceeding filed before the High Court or the Subordinate Courts under their respective jurisdictions,” the Court ordered.
We see no reason for mentioning the caste/religion of any litigant. Such a practice is to be shunned and must be ceased forthwith.
Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah
The Court passed the order while allowing a transfer petition in a marital dispute pending before a family court in Rajasthan.
While permitting the transfer of the case to a family court in Punjab, the Supreme Court was surprised to find that the caste of both the parties to the dispute (husband and wife) had been mentioned in the memo of the parties.
The lawyer appearing for one of the parties who had filed the transfer petition (wife), informed the top court that he had no choice but to mention the caste of the parties in the case papers filed before the Supreme Court since this detail had been mentioned in the case papers filed at the family court.
The lawyer explained that if had failed to mention this detail in case papers filed before the Supreme Court, he would have risked facing objections from the Court’s registry for discrepancies in the case details when compared to the case papers before the family court.
The Supreme Court then specifically ordered that the caste or religion of parties to a case must not be mentioned regardless of whether such details were mentioned before the courts below.
“It is therefore deemed appropriate to pass a general order directing that henceforth the caste or religion of parties shall not be mentioned in the memo of parties of a petition/proceeding filed before this Court, irrespective of whether any such details have been furnished before the courts below,” the January 10 order stated.
The Court ordered for these directions to be communicated to lawyers and the Court’s registry for immediate compliance.
“A copy of this order shall be placed before the Registrar concerned for perusal and for circulation to the Registrar Generals of all the High Courts for strict compliance,” the Court added.
Advocates Aniket Jain, Vidyut Kayarkar, and Umang Shankar represented the petitioner in the transfer petition. None appeared for the respondent.
On a related note, another bench comprising Justices Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal had also expressed disapproval over the caste details of a litigant being mentioned in a judgment from the Rajasthan High Court.
The caste or religion of an accused person has no relevance when a court is deciding his case and the same should never be mentioned in the title of the judgment, the bench had observed.