Don’t Use Abbreviations, Madras High Court Tells Trial Courts

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Chennai: Whacky abbreviations for words may be a in-thing on social media world where WhatsApp, Twitter and text alerts via SMS rule the roost. But, Tamil Nadu judiciary has made it clear that it is not a fan of such abbreviations.

Deprecating the practice of subordinate courts using unfamiliar abbreviations in official transactions, Madras high court has cautioned that no court in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry should use abbreviations in their documents and judgments.

শব্দের ‘সংক্ষিপ্ত রূপে’ নিষেধাজ্ঞা মাদ্রাজ হাই কোর্টের

The immediate provocation for a division bench of S Nagamuthu and Justice M Sathyanarayanan to flay lower courts was a remand extension order passed by a special judge for National Investigation Agency (NIA) cases in Puducherry.

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“The special judge had passed the following order: ‘Acc. Pro. R.E. Till 18/07/14’,” pointed out the bench, adding: “We find it difficult to understand this telegraphic abbreviation in the order of the special judge. But R Muthukumarasamy, standing counsel for high court, explained the abbreviations and we also infer that ‘Acc’ means ‘Accused’, ‘Pro’ means “Produced” and ‘RE’ means “Remand Extended.”

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The bench further said: “This practice of courts using unfamiliar abbreviations needs to be necessarily deprecated. The orders passed by courts should be understandable by a common man, more particularly the person in whose favour or against the order is passed. We only expect that judicial officers in this state and in the union territory of Puducherry shall not hereinafter use these kinds of abbreviations understandable only to the maker of the abbreviations. They are expected to write orders legibly without using unfamiliar abbreviations.”

The case pertaining to six suspects arrested by NIA (Hyderabad), and their remand/extension of remand by the special judge in Puducherry. Their counsel M Radhakrishnan, arguing their habeas corpus petitions to declare their remand illegal and consequently set them at liberty, said that on three hearing dates – July 18, 2014, August 14, 2014 and September 12, 2014 – the judge did not pass any pass any specific orders but merely extended the detention.

The bench, agreeing his submissions, said the judge ought to have afforded opportunity to the accused and applied his judicial mind before passing remand orders, said the special judge had merely made an endorsement on the said three dates.

Though such endorsements are not in accordance with law, referring to various Supreme Court orders declined to declare the detention of the accused as illegal saying on their subsequent production before the court, there were valid remand orders. Therefore, their detention as of now cannot be stated to be illegal and so they cannot be set at liberty, the bench said.