A small step the Bombay high court took on Wednesday could mean a giant leap for the city’s and the state’s judiciary turning environment-friendly. A circular issued by the court’s administration allows the use of the smaller A4 size paper instead of the legal-size paper; a move that, lawyers and court officers say, could reduce paper usage by half.
The circular allows the use of A4 size paper, printed on both sides, for filing petitions, affidavits and other pleadings before the high court, and its benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa. Until now, the court accepted only legal size paper printed on one side, and there were no specifications on the fonts. The new circular specifies fonts (Times New Roman or Georgia), font size (14) and the margins (5cm inner and 3cm outer). Advocate SR Nargolkar, who represents the high court administration, informed the division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice GS Kulkarni of the notification.
The effective reduction in paper size is 10% (330mm x 210mm for legal versus 297mm x 210 mm for A4), but the use of both sides for printing will potentially cut down paper consumption by half, a senior court officer said. “It is difficult to estimate how much paper is being used for filing proceedings before the HC, but this shift will cut usage by half and give us more space to store court records.”
Nargolkar was responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by city lawyer Ajinkya Udane seeking directions to the court administration to shift to A4 size paper. His counsel, PR Katneshwarkar, submitted that the PIL was filed after an earlier petition with similar prayers had been disposed of, asking the petitioner to make a representation to the high court’s registrar general.
Katneshwarkar informed the bench that though a representation was made, no decision was taken. The petitioner was, therefore, “constrained to approach the court again.”
To be sure, the Bombay HC is not the country’s first court to issue such a direction. According to Udane’s petition, other high courts such as Kolkata, Allahabad, Kerala, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Tripura have already adopted the A4 size paper with both-sides printing as standard.
Nargolkar said a notification amending the Bombay High Court (Appellate Side) Rules, 1960 and Bombay High Court (Original Side) Rules, 1980 was issued on July 6, so as to allow use of A4 paper, printed on both sides, for pleadings before HC. He said a circular for permitting the use of A4 size paper printed on both sides was issued on Wednesday.
The bench then directed Katneshwarkar to make a representation to the HC’s registrar general Mahendra Chandwani to issue directions for allowing use of A4 size paper printed on both sides for pleadings before all subordinate courts in Maharashtra.
The circular says, “With a view to bring uniformity about use of paper in day-to-day working on the administrative side, to minimise consumption of paper and consequently to save the environment, Honourable Chief Justice and the Judges of the Bombay High Court have been pleased to direct that henceforth, the Registry shall use A4 size paper (on both sides) for internal communications at all levels in the Registry.”
It adds: “It is, clarified that all the pleadings, petitions, affidavits or other documents, etc, filed in the Registry, on Judicial side for the purpose of filing in the High Court and its Benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Panaji (Goa) and all other Courts in the State of Maharashtra, the following specifications of paper type would be applicable: ‘Superior quality A4 size paper having not less than 75 GSM with printing on the both sides of the paper with Font – Times New Roman or Georgia, Font size 14 with inner margin of 5cm and outer margin 3cm.”
Dr Birendra Saraf, vice president, Bombay Bar Association, welcomed the decision and said that it would contribute to saving not only paper but also pave the way for digitisation of court records. “Once there is uniformity in the size of the paper used, and the process of digitisation is completed, it will be convenient for courts to call for records from lower courts and even while hearing cases in appeal. It will save nearly 60 percent of the paper utilised, a positive step towards saving the environment as well.”