WikiConference India 2011/Submissions/WikiMedia - The New Secondary Legal Source

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This is an open submission for WikiConference India 2011.

Note: notified by email about missing abstract
09:40, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Title of the submission

WikiMedia - The New Secondary Legal Source !

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, or presentation)


Author of the submission

Debashis Mukherjee (DebashisM)

E-mail address or username

State of your origin (Country, if you are not based in India)

New Delhi, India

Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
  • Advocate, Supreme Court of India / Delhi High Court;
  • Litigation Head, LEGALICS - Law Attorneys & Legal Consultants;
  • Sr. Associate, Excelex Law Offices, Mumbai (TMT Practice)
Personal homepage or blog

Abstract (maximum 500 words)

A few years back, when we heard of foreign courts, citing from ‘Wikipedia –The Free Encyclopaedia’ people were aghast. More so was the legal fraternity. Not only did they fear the possibly ever-changing knowledge bank, but also the vast and unending source that could burden the already ‘noble’ and ‘knowledgeable’ legal professionals. This being so, as in a court of law, the lawyer has to don the garb of his client and be prepared with the relevant facts and figures, apart from his legal prowess.

In India, the credit of using Wikipedia in Supreme Court decisions is attributed to Hon’ble Mr. Justice Markandey Katju in the case of D. Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal, Civil Appeal Nos. 2028-2029 of 2010, wherein the Apex Court had used definitions from the Wikipedia.

This was however not the first instance that the Indian judiciary had a look into ‘Wikipedia’. In the case of M/s. Ponds India Ltd. v. Commissioner of Trade Tax, CA No. 3644 of 2008 the Supreme Court had to deal with the resource gathered from ‘Wikipedia’, but the Court carefully avoided using such resource, mainly for the reason that they were not stable and could be changed by anyone, over any period of time. In the case of Commissioner of Customs v. M/s ACER India Pvt. Ltd, CA No. 2321 of 2007, while counsels from both sides used references and definitions from Wikipedia, the Apex Court consciously avoided to rely on it. Similarly the court rejected the Wikipedia resource in M/s BOC India Ltd. v. State of Jharkhand & Ors., CA No. 1538 of 2009. Interestingly all these judgments were delivered by Hon’ble Mr. Justice S. B. Sinha. Recently in 2011, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dalveer Bhandari refused to only rely on Wikipedia in the case of T.V. Venugopal v. Ushodaya Enterprises Ltd., CA Nos. 6314-15 of 2001.

Contrary to public perception, the first usage of the resources from Wikipedia, was way back in 2006 when Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.H. Kapadia (the present Chief Justice of India), used the same in the case of Anjaleem Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Central Excise, Civil Appeal 2487 of 2000.

Other Supreme Court judgments that used the resources from Wikipedia, if not rely on them, includes:

  • Commissioner of Customs, New Delhi v. C-Net Communication (I) Pvt. Ltd. (2007).
  • Reliance Infocomm Ltd v. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. & Ors (2008).
  • Commissioner of Trade Tax v. Associated Distributors Ltd.(2008).
  • New India Assurance Company Ltd. v. M/s. Zuari Industries Ltd. & Ors. (2009).
  • Commissioner of Trade Tax v. S/S. Parikh Gramodyog Sansthan (2010).

The High Courts of Allahabad, Andhra Pradesh, Bombay, Delhi, Gujrat, Karnataka, Kerela, Madras, Orissa and Rajasthan have time and again used the resources from Wikipedia to understand the subject matter and substantiate their judgments.

In this backdrop the presentation would showcase that despite its inherent defects (jurists also possess such demerits), it’s time that ‘Wikipedia as a Secondary Legal Source’ be acknowledged in consonance with the zeitgeist!

Track (Community/Knowledge/Outreach/Technology)


Will you attend Wikiconference if your submission is not accepted?

Yes. Likely to attend since it'll be held in India. However, would love to present the paper...

Further would like to avail of Full Scholarship for attending the Conference.

Slides or further information (optional)