Report No. 14
21. Monopoly of reporting undesirable.-
The conclusion is thus irresistible that to permit a system which would restrict citation to a particular series of law reports and exclude others would be destructive of the entire doctrine of precedent, as we understand it. In such a system, a decision would derive its authority not by reason of its being a decision of a particular tribunal but from the fact of its having been chosen by the reporter for inclusion in the authorised series. We repeat and express our concurrence with the conclusions reached by the Lord Chancellor's Committee on this question. "To such a proposal or anything like it we are unanimously opposed. It ignores, as we think the fundamental fact that the law of England is what it is not because it has been so reported but because it has been so decided "1
1. Report of the Lord Chancellor's Committee on Law Reporting, para 15.
22. History of Law reporting in India.-
Having expressed our views on this important question it would be convenient to pass to a historical review of law reporting as it has developed in India.
There appears to have been no system of reliance upon judicial precedents in Hindu jurisprudence except in so far as they serve as evidence of custom. Nor do collections of cases appear to have been used under Mohammedan rule although the Fatwah Alamgiri prepared in the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb contains opinions of the law officers on points of law.
Law reporting seems to have made its appearance in India with the establishment of courts under British authority. When the Supreme Courts were first constituted in the three Presidency towns, the judges and barristers of those courts having been trained in the English tradition started using and relying on the decisions of the English courts. Subsequently when the Sadar Courts started delivering their judgments in English they began to issue as early as 1845 copies of some of their judgments monthly for the benefit of the public. For some time the courts also used to publish monthly abstracts of their judgments. The judgments of which copies were furnished were only some of the judgments delivered by these courts.1
1. AIR 1,945 Journal, p. 4. Proceedings of the Legislative Department of July 1919, Nos. 2228: Appendix I.
Meanwhile private reports also came into existence. Barristers attached to the Sadar Courts and some of the Judges of these courts began to publish the reports of their decisions. The reports of Belasis, Borrodail, Marshall and Hyde to name only a few of them came into existence due to the initiative of individual judges and counsel.
Regular law reporting may be said, however, to have commenced with the establishment of the High Courts in the three Presidency towns. From that time semi-official and private law repOrts came to be published regularly.
After the establishment of the High Courts, Sir James Stephen, the then Law Member recorded a minute to the effect that reporting should be regarded as a branch of legislation and accepted the principle that it was hardly a less important duty of the Government to publish that part of the law which is enunciated by its tribunals in their judgments then to promulgate its legislation. A circular letter was issued on the subject to various local Governments and the High Courts.
A subsequent Law Member Mr. (Later Lord) Hobhouse also interested himself in the subject and took the initiative in the passing of the Indian Law Reports Act (Act XVIII of 1875) which as stated above sought to regulate the indiscriminate citation of cases in the courts.
After the passing of the Act Councils of Law Reporting were set up in the several High Courts and reports began to be published under the authority of the Government.
23. Number of Law Reports in the country.-
Private reports also continued to be published and today we have in India a large number of official and unofficial law reports as appears in the Table set out below:-
1. All-India Reporter
2. Criminal Law Journal
(A) List of Official Law Journals
1. I.L.R. Allahabad.
2. L.L.R Andhra Pradesh.
3. I.L.R. Assam.
4. I.L.R. Bombay.
5. I.L.R. Calcutta.
6. I.L.R. Cuttack.
7. Jammu and Kashmir Law Reports.
8. I.L.R. Kerala.
9. I.L.R. Madhya Pradesh (which takes the place of I.L.R. Nagpur and I.L.R. Madhya Bharat).
10. I.L.R. Madras.
11. I.L.R. Mysore.
12. I.L.R. Patna.
13. I.L.R. Punjab.
14. I.L.R. Rajasthan.
15. Supreme Court Reports.
(B) List of Non-Official Law Journals
1. Allahabad Law Journal.
2. Allahabad Weekly Reporter.
3. Andhra Law Times.
4. Andhra Weekly Reporter.
5. Bihar Law Journal.
6. Bombay Law Reporter.
7. Calcutta Law Journal,
8. Calcutta Weekly Notes.
9. Cuttack Law Times.
10. Jabalpore Law Journal (Gwalior) (Previously, M.B. Law Journal).
11. Jabalpur Law Journal (Jabalpur).
12. Karnatak Law Journal.
13. Kerala Law Journal.
14. Kerala Law Times.
15. Madhya Pradesh Cases.
16. Madhya Pradesh Law Journal.
17. Madras Law Journal (Civil).
18. Madras Law Journal (Criminal).
19. Madras Law Weekly.
20. Madras Weekly Notes.
21. Mysore Law Journal.
22. Nagpur Law Journal.
23. Patna Law Reports.
24. Punjab Law Reports.
25. Rajasthan Law Weekly.
26. Supreme Court Appeals.
27. Supreme Court Cases (in Hindi)
28. Supreme Court Journal.
(C) List of Special Law Journals
1 Company Cases.
2. Company Cases Supplement.
3. Factories Journal Reports.
4. Income Tax Reports.
5. Labour Appeal Cases.
6. Labour Law Journal.
7. Sales Tax Cases.
These reports include special law reports and number fifty-two in all.1
1. This is based on a list furnished to the Commission by the AIR Ltd., Nagpur at the Commission's request.
24. Number of Reports and cases not excessive.-
The representatives or the publishers of certain private law journals gave evidence before us and challenged the correctness of the statement that the law reports published in India were too many or that too many cases were being reported. It was pointed out that in England taking the figures for 1940 the number of cases reported annually were about 1250 and that about half a dozen private law reports existed in England in addition to the law reports published by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting. In India the total number of cases published in all the law reports was stated to be about 2500 each year.
Having regard to the vast area of the country, its very large population and the number of superior courts, it was urged that far from being excessive the number of cases reported was very moderate. The attention of the Commission was also drawn to the position in the United States of America which being a federated Union composed of a large number of States was, it was stated, more nearly comparable to India. It was stated that each State in the United States had its own reports both official and unofficial and that the total number of reports including specialised law reports amounted to some hundreds.
The total number of cases published annually in the reports was as many as Rs. 40,000. It is difficult and in any event unnecessary to express any definite opinion on this question. But it certainly does appear that the view that too many decisions are being reported is overstated. Probably what really requires consideration and remedy is the quality of the reports which are being published and the manner in which they are often cited in courts irrespective of their relevance. These are matters to which we shall advert later.
25. Essentials of good Law Reporting.-
The doctrine of precedents, which we have explained and accepted above, requires that the law reports should be accurate and full, so that the true principle laid down by the decision may be deduced. The report should contain all essential information like the parties, the nature of the pleadings, the essential facts, the arguments of counsel, the decision and the grounds of the judgment. Not the least important part of the report is its head-note which should be accurate and concise and yet in a sense comprehensive.
Cases chosen for reporting.- It is obvious that a law report can serve its true purpose if it reports only cases "which introduce or appear to introduce a new principle or new rule; or which materially modify an existing principle or rule; or which settle or tend to settle a question on which the law is doubtful; or which for any other reasons are peculiarly instructive".1
1. Lord Lindely Law Quarterly Review, Vol. I, pp. 143-144.
Time and form of publication.- Equally important is the time and form of the publication of the reports. It is desirable that the publication should take place as soon as possible after the judgment but speed should not result in a sacrifice of the accuracy of the judgments reported. In order to ensure the accuracy of the judgments and their being checked by the judges who deliver them, a certain amount of time must elapse before the publication of the report. In the meanwhile the profession and the public should be kept informed from week to week of decisions of importance by the publication of notes of cases.