Supreme Court Allows Use Of A4 Sheets With Double-Sided Printing For Filings

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The Supreme Court has approved the use of A4 size papers for filing documents, with print on both the sides. Presently, Court documents are normally filed with print on one side. The decision to opt for double-sided court documents was taken in environmental interest, in a meeting of the Committee for Rationalization of Use of Papers in the Supreme Court of India and for Introduction of Paperless Courts with members of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA).


Documents filed in the Supreme Court of India can now have material printed on both sides of A4 sheets. A circular stating the same was issued on Thursday, 13 February. Until now, the practice was to print legal documents on only one side of a sheet. The decision was taken after a meeting between the judges of the committee of rationalization of use of papers, the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA), and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). A circular to this effect was also issued on Thursday. SCBA Secretary Ashok Arora confirmed that such double-sided documents can be filed hereon. The measure may also be made mandatory in due course of time. The circular also intimates that recent amendments made with respect to the filing of caveats have been rectified. Arora informed that a decision had been taken to do away with recent amendments that had made the process of filing caveats more cumbersome.

Initiative taken up by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to cut the use of paper and protection of environment

Documents submitted to the court are required to be typed only on one side of an A4-size sheet, double-spaced and with a wide margin, a throwback to the time when this was needed to prevent smudging of typewriter ink on the thin paper used at that time.  The availability of better-quality paper and the advent of efficient printers have now negated the need for large fonts, wide margins, double-spacing and one-sided printing. However, the traditional practice continues out of habit and partly due to the fact that these rules framed over 60 years ago have been updated – the last time being in 2013.

The Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change, an NGO, says it’s high time the court junks these rules – not only to save trees and the environment but also to keep pace with the times. Asking for documents to be printed on one side only leads to a colossal waste of paper, it says.The NGO successfully got the Madhya Pradesh High Court to review its rule and cited this as a precedent for other courts to follow. It also asked for smaller spacing between lines and use of smaller fonts. 

Research shows that a line spacing of 1.5 instead of 2 results in a 25% reduction in paper consumption and use of smaller fonts leads to a 30% saving, the NGO said. Between October 2016 and last September, 61,520 new cases were filed in the Supreme Court. At least eight copies of paper books are used on average in every case – four for the judges and at least one each for both counsels and parties. Assuming each paper book has 100 pages, then 4.92 crore sheets of paper would have been used in this period. 

Using double-sided prints alone would have saved about 2,950 trees with respect to fresh filings in a year. Similarly, 24.6 crore litres of water would be saved if 2.46 crore paper sheets are not used. It takes about 10 litres of water to make one sheet of paper – to create pulp, wash out contaminants and wash the pulp again after it has been bleached.

Paper products make up the largest component of solid waste. India is one of the biggest generators of waste, with more than 1 lakh metric tons of waste paper piling up every day. Only 27% of waste paper is further recycled in India. Paper production involves huge energy consumption, including the cost of logging, transportation and conversion of wood pulp. A 2010 study calculated that the paper industry is the fourth-highest source of carbon dioxide emissions, which are blamed for global warming.

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

I am Soma Singh from Sharda University School of Law, my interest areas are Corporate law, jurisprudence and ADR. I describe myself as an ambivert. Enjoys reading mythological tales