Three law students write to CJI, want legal size paper ditched for A4

breakthrough: “The judgment will have a far-reaching impact in academic circles as well as on the copyright industry.” File photo of the Rameshwari photocopy shop in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: SAJJAD HUSSAIN

Three law students have written to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to drop the colonial practice of using legal size paper across courts in India and opt for the commonly available A4 size sheets for case records.

“Government and corporates are the biggest litigants, both of which carry out their internal affairs by use of A4 size paper. Use of legal size paper is only the result of British colonial practice, which is still being continued without any logic. Even in countries like the U.K. and U.S., their entire legal system make use of A4 size paper,” they said.

Besides, Abhinav Singh, Akriti Agarwal and Lakshya Purohit informed the CJI that A4 paper was more economical to photocopy, given the numerous copies of case records courts require litigants to file. Photocopying was a separate industry within court complexes. Copies of pleadings depended on the number of parties, records and also the number of judges on the Bench. For example, in the Ayodhya appeals, the court records alone fill 15 huge steel boxes. The five civil suits had numerous defendants. Copies had to be made for each one, and most importantly, five separate copies of every record for each of the judges on the Bench. The photocopies alone would cost a fortune for litigants.

The letter pointed out that photostat vendors charged ₹2 for copying the legal size paper and ₹1 for A4 paper. For the CJI, who heads the Ayodhya Bench, the September 30 letter from the three students may come as an eye-opener.

In fact, the Supreme Court Rules also mandate A4 size sheets. But old habits die hard in legal practice, and the rule is ignored.

The students told the CJI that even the U.K. and U.S. Supreme Courts did not use legal size sheets and preferred their more modern A4 counterparts, mostly because the latter were easily available.

They said a tour of the local courts and various High Courts showed an erratic use between A4 and legal size. A litigant would file his case on A4 and the court would insist on legal size. Or the litigant would file his case on legal size paper only to discover, much to his chagrin, that the court had a modern outlook and preferred A4.

“In some High Courts, district courts and quasi-judicial bodies, an indefinite combination of both legal size paper and A4 size paper is being used. This disorganised and unreasonable practice of using different papers at different places is not just creating hindrance for people in accessing justice both inside and outside the court, but also renders the entire legal system non-uniform and arbitral,” the letter said.

It referred to a recent discussion by the e-committee of the Supreme Court, in which it was highlighted that A4 paper should be used to prepare orders, judgments and depositions, in the interest of uniformity.

The letter urged the CJI to direct courts and quasi-judicial bodies to uniformly make A4 the official size of paper for all pleadings in the “interest of people and administration of justice”.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 2:14:34 AM |

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