What is a Neutral Citation | Supreme & High Court Neutral Citation

What is a Neutral Citation | Supreme & High Court Neutral Citation

Library Academy Team

Define a Neutral Citation System, Supreme Neutral Citation, High Court Neutral Citation, Example & Elements of Neutral Citation.

A neutral citation is a form of citation used by the High Court and Supreme Court of India. A neutral citation would assign a unique sequential number to each judgment as a permanent identification. This provides ease of citing judgments by providing a uniform and common citation mechanism.


"A neutral citation is a unique court-assigned reference number for a judgment in a common law jurisdiction". Neutral Citation System – A uniform, reliable, and secure methodology to identify and cite Supreme Court judgments and orders in a step-by-step manner.


In other words, A neutral citation is a unique identifier assigned to a legal case by a court, regardless of the law report or legal publication in which the case is later published. The purpose of a neutral citation is to provide a standardized and permanent way to reference and cite a case, making it easier for legal professionals, researchers, and the public to locate and identify legal decisions.


It typically includes information such as the year the judgment was made, a specific court abbreviation, and a sequential number. Neutral citations are designed to provide a standardized way of referencing and locating legal decisions.

Neutral citation of Supreme Court

Elements of Neutral Citation: A typical neutral citation is composed of the following three elements:


i. Year of judgment: The year in which the judgment was issued.


ii. Jurisdiction and Court or Abbreviated title of the court: A code or abbreviation representing the court that issued the judgment is typically included. "INSC" means judgment by the Supreme Court of India, and "UKSC" means judgment by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.


iii. Unique case number#: It is a Decision number, not the court file number. A sequential number is assigned to each judgment issued by a particular court in a given year. This number ensures the uniqueness of the neutral citation and distinguishes one case from another decided in the same year by the same court.


Note: To which may sometimes be added a fourth element is "Division or List (optional)"


Example of Neutral Citation: 


a. Neutral Citation of Supreme Court of UK - [2017] UKSC #

b. Neutral Citation of the Supreme Court of India is "2023:INSC:1"

Where # is a Number representing the Unique case number.

Nuetral Citation of Supreme Court of India

Image Credit Supreme Court of India: https://main.sci. gov.in/pdf/LU/27042023_135802.pdf


In the context of a library, a neutral citation refers to a unique identifier assigned to a legal case or judgment by the court. This citation is neutral in the sense that it is independent of any specific law report or legal publication. Neutral citations are often used to facilitate precise and standardized referencing of legal decisions.


Libraries that curate legal collections typically organize materials, including cases, in a way that makes them easily accessible to researchers, legal professionals, and the general public. Neutral citations play a crucial role in this organization by providing a consistent and unique label for each judgment.


Reference: https://main.sci.gov.in/pdf/LU/27042023_135802. pdf

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