How to Read Judgements

How to Read Judgements

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How to Read Judgements
How to Read Judgements

Do you know how senior advocates know the crux of a long-paged judgment in a short period of time? Reading judgments is an art and if you have the knowledge of this art then it will effectively save your time and help you in drafting and argument. 

How To Read a Judgement

  • Read every single word of the judgment. Do not try to use a shortcut and skip parts of the judgment. Commas and full stops should also be carefully read as they can change the meaning of the sentence. Underline the words that you cannot understand and search for their meaning. It will help you in improving your vocabulary and legal English.

Should you read the full judgment or short summary?

  • Try to read the judgment in full as it will give you clarity regarding its aim and objectives. If you read the brief of the judgment then you may not fully understand its purpose.

There are times when you don’t have enough time to read the complete judgment so how will you read the relevant parts? But before knowing the relevant part you should know the basic structure of a case.

Basic Structure of a Case

  1. The first thing that is written on a case is whether it is reportable or not. Reportable means when the honorable judges write down the judgment, they write whether the case will be reportable or not i.e., whether it will be reported or not. Generally, all the legal issues that the court fell are reported for the first time, or if the judges want to set a league then the case is marked as reportable.
  2. The next thing is the name of the court whose court order is whether a supreme court or a high court.
  3. Then the type of case is mentioned. Whether the case is civil, criminal, or writ. It talks about the branch of law.
  4. Case number. It is the number of petitions that are filled in the year along with the year of the case.
  5. Name of parties. The name of the petitioner or appellant is the person who has the case or who has challenged the decision of a lower court. On the other side is the name of the defendant or the respondent against whom you have approached the court. It mentions the details of the parties contesting in the court.
  6. Judgment. After the details of the parties start the judgment. Most of the time the names of the honorable judges are mentioned at starting but sometimes they are mentioned at the ending. Now. You need to strengthen the bench i.e., the number of judges in the case and who wrote the judgment.
    1. Appeal. The next thing it mentions is that the appeal challenges which order of the lower court.
    1. Facts. Then starts the facts of the case. Only relevant points that are important for the jurisdiction are mentioned.
    1. Arguments. Arguments from the advocates of both sides are mentioned with relevant case laws.
  7. The next part after the facts is considered to be the most relevant part. It is mentioned after hearing arguments from both sides. The court frames the issues of the case and discusses them in detail along with the reasoning of the court.
  8. The court mentions whether they will allow or dismiss the petition and give their judgment.

Majority or minority?

While deciding on a case the views of the judges may be the same with one another but they can also differ. The judgment of the majority is considered to be valid and applicable to the case. Therefore, if you want to read a judgment, you must prefer a judgment of a judge from the majority.


While reading a judgment you must make sure that the judgment that you are reading is not overruled with time. Sometimes after a judgment is delivered the supreme court of India refers to a larger bench and the views in the case take a turn. So, the earlier judgment is overruled and is considered bad law. Therefore, read the judgments that are valid.


In order to understand a judgment do not rely on blogs or case briefs as they may not provide you with an accurate interpretation of the case. Read the judgment to know about every aspect of the case. Also, reading a judgment daily will improve your legal knowledge and English. it will help you explore new areas of law and keep you up-to-date with the new supreme court and high court judgments.

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