Can One Bench Of The Supreme Court Copy-Paste Judgment Of Previous Bench Without Attribution?
Supreme Court Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Rohinton Fali Nariman might have, inadvertently, copy-pasted portions of a previous judgment, delivered by another bench, without attribution in a recent order.
In their order, disposing of the Special Leave Petition in the case of Unnikrishnan @ Unnikuttan v State of Kerala, on March 1, Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Rohinton Fali Nariman, reproduced portions of the judgment authored by the late Justice Altamas Kabir and delivered by the bench of Justices Kabir and Markandey Katju, in Puttaswamy v State of Karnataka on 11 December 2008, without attribution, as their own.
Although the Ghose-Nariman bench cited Puttaswamy, along with other relevant cases in a paragraph, while reproducing a paragraph verbatim from it, the bench appears to have inadvertently ignored its obligation to attribute the borrowed paragraph to the previous bench.
Thus Paragraph 5 in Puttaswamy was reproduced in Unnikrishnan as Paragraphs 7 and 8:
“The aforesaid question has troubled this Court on different occasions, not only in connection with compounding of offences punishable under the criminal justice system, but also in respect of civil matters, and in respect of matrimonial matters in particular, where the Court had to strike a balance between the rigidity of the law and doing substantial justice to the parties. In order to meet certain unusual situations, this Court has from time to time taken recourse to innovations and the powers vested in it under Article 142 of the Constitution, in order to give a quietus to a litigation demanding a pragmatic solution.”
The first sentence in Paragraph 9 of Puttaswamy has been reproduced in the March 1 order, verbatim, thus:
“What emerges from all these decisions is that even if an offence is not compoundable within the scope of Section 320 of Code of Criminal Procedure the Court may, in view of the compromise arrived at between the parties, reduce the sentence imposed while maintaining the conviction.”
The foregoing sentence appears as Paragraph 11 in the March 1 order.
Read the order here.