Supreme Court urges High Courts, Tribunals to consider uniform format for judgments/ orders, number all paragraphs

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The Supreme Court on Thursday urged all High Courts and tribunals across the country to follow a uniform format for all its orders and judgments and to number the paragraphs in their orders/ judgments [BS Hari Commandant vs Union of India and ors].

A bench of Justices Krishna Murari and Ahsanuddin Amanullah issued directions in this regard to the registrars of all the High Courts.

“It is desirable that all courts and tribunals, as a matter of practice, number paragraphs in all Orders and Judgments in seriatim … The learned Secretary General shall circulate this judgement to the learned Registrars General of all High Courts, to place the same before Hon’ble the Chief Justices, to consider adoption of a uniform format for Judgments and Orders, including paragraphing. The learned Chief Justices may direct the Courts and Tribunals subordinate to their High Courts accordingly as well,” the Court said.

The directions came in an appeal against a 2010 Punjab & Haryana High Court order in which the paragraphs were not numbered.

The top court in its verdict set aside the High Court order that had upheld a 1995 General Security Force court (GSF court) ruling.

That GSF court ruling had found the appellant, a President’s medal awardee and BSF member, was guilty in connection with the smuggling of controlled substances case.

The apex court stressed the doctrine of proportionality in its judgment, observing that the man had served the forces for nearly 32 years with an unblemished record prior to the incident.

The punishment of suspension of retiral benefits and pension, therefore, was found to be excessive given the lack of direct and cogent evidence against the appellant.

The respondents were, accordingly, directed to make all payments due to the petitioner within twelve weeks.

In August 2022, a bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud (as he then was) had laid out some guidelines on judgment writing. The Court had emphasised the importance of coherent formatting, structuring and referencing in making judgments easier to read.

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