Checklist: Preparing a Primer
- What is the factual, historical, and legal context of the case?
- Are there any legal issues in the case that require a contextual understanding?
- Have you thematically organized the issues arising from the case?
- What are the central observations of the Court? (Include the headnote, ratio and obiter!)
- Have you incorporated significant dissenting or concurring opinions (if any) in the primer?
- Why is the judgement important from a human rights perspective?
- What are the positive and negative implications of the judgement on human rights jurisprudence?
- How and where can the judgement be used in future litigation, advocacy, and activism?
- How has the judgement been subsequently used in legal proceedings and human rights advocacy?
For a detailed guide on how to prepare a judgement primer, click here [we can hyperlink this to the comprehensive guide]
Complete Guide for the Preparation of Judgment Primers
The purpose behind preparing a primer of judgments is to increase accessibility and facilitate the dissemination of information to an audience comprising of lawyers, journalists and human rights activists. The outcome of such primers should ideally be a thorough reading of judicial decisions to highlight why a judgment is important and how it can be used as a tool for socio-legal change. Judgements which have an adverse impact on human rights/constitutional rights jurisprudence will also be analysed. In effect, human rights activists and defenders should be able to use its operative judicial observations for human rights advocacy; journalists should be able to utilize the tool of primers for simple, brief yet accurate reporting; and lawyers should be able to incorporate its persuasive value (or negative findings) and technically sound (or unsound) critical analysis in future court proceedings. The judgment primers so prepared should use the technological platform of the internet as an enabler to not only make the key holding accessible to a broad audience, but also allow for peeling away layers of the judgment at different levels in order to cater to different audiences. The following questions serve to guide the preparation of the judgment primers:
- What is the factual, historical,and legal context of the case?
- Provide a background of why the judgment in itself is an important read in the context of a particular factual or legal dispute. For example, it would be significant to highlight the historical background of communal tension, past human rights violations, socio-political setting of the dispute etc.
- In the event that a particular legal issue requires contextual understanding, include a simplified description of such context and why this particular judgment either reaffirms or deviates from previous understandings.
- What are the observations of the Court?
- Explain the central arguments of the judgment in a simple, yet thorough, complex and nuanced manner wherever needed. Do not tilt towards a brief explanation at the cost of negating necessary technicalities. The primer should go beyond the brief of a template and be effectively useful to the reader. Mention all declarations, guidelines, deliverables of the judgment which are expressed or intended to be so.
- In the event of Constitutional Benches presiding over a judicial proceeding, where certain judges have delivered important dissenting or concurring opinions, incorporate key individual opinions to highlight the evolution of legal jurisprudence.
- Why is the judgment important?
- Identify the actual or potential contribution and impact of the judgment for lawyers, human rights activists and journalists. For instance, what are the implications of the judgment on rights-based jurisprudence, procedural fairness, obligations of the State etc.?
- How can this judgment be used in a future court proceeding?
- Highlight those judicial observations that can be utilized in arguments before a future bench. These may include the judicial understanding of a principle, guidelines on the role of the State or State agents etc.
- If and how the judgment has been used in legal proceedings and human rights advocacy?
- Incorporate actual instances of subsequent court proceedings, judgments, legislative advocacy, and human rights activism that have in fact used the operative observations of the Court effectively.
- Have the judgment or the principles embodied in the judgment been used in subsequent reports, or formed the basis of human rights instruments or policies?
- How has the judgment affected the State and its instrumentalities? How have State officials reacted to the judgment? You may refer to official statements of incumbent officials, representatives of affected statutory bodies, investigation agencies etc. in order to provide a critical, holistic and comprehensive picture of the judgment beyond the transcript itself.
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