In a recent judgement, Uttarakhand High Court stating that small steps must be taken immediately to save the environment, once again reminded advocates to avoid wastage of papers.
“The Act, Rules, notifications, Government Gazettes and Judgments are admissible in evidence even in the absence of filing the photocopies of it”, it stated while further adding, "The lawyers are annexing the copy of the Act, Rules, Gazette Notification and Judgments passed by this court and Hon’ble Apex Court which not only makes the petition bulky but ultimately causes harm to the ecology."
A single bench of Justice Lok Pal Singh, further observed that the practice of enclosing the copies of Act, Rules, notifications, Government Gazettes and Judgments with the petitions, which are otherwise available electronically, are prevailing in the Court which not only imposes financial burden upon the litigants but also causes great loss to environment.
The remark made by Justice Singh was in furtherance of a writ petition where learned counsel for the petitioner, Mr. Amar Murti Shukla, unnecessarily enclosed the Xerox copies of the judgments with the writ petition.
Citing Sections 37 (Relevancy of statement as to fact of public nature, contained in certain Acts or notifications) and 38 (Relevancy of statements as to any law contained in law-books) of Indian Evidence Act, the court observed how paper production has enormous negative effects on the environment.
“The paper is the produce of forest and as we use the huge paper sometimes for no reason, it ultimately damages and affects the forest which effects the environment.”, it said.
The bench mentioned Article 48A of the Constitution which states that the State shall make endeavours to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country. Besides this, Article 51-A (g) states that it shall be the duty of citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.
Further, citing the Supreme Court’s direction on the filing of cases on A4 size papers and to use both sides of the paper, the order said that the ultimate purpose is to save the environment.
“I personally, on several occasions have requested the Advocates to avoid the wastage of papers. Not only unnecessary paper is used but the ink is also used which also creates a huge garbage.”, Justice Singh stated while observing that we have reached an alarming position from where we cannot revive the environment and that the situation is getting worse with each passing day.
The bench directed the registry to circulate a copy of the order to office of the Bar Association and Bar Council of Uttarakhand to apprise the lawyers that the lawyers may not annex the copy of the Act, Rules, Gazette Notification and Judgments with the petitions.
The bench further requested Office of the Chief Standing Counsel to accept only two copies of the writ petitions for all the parties for the State and not to insist the parties/litigants to supply more copies.
“We have to make joint efforts to save the environment”, said the court.