What is a cause list?
A cause list is a list of all cases or ‘causes’ that are to be heard by judges on each working day in a court. It contains information pertaining to which case is heard by which judge and in which court hall. In English practice, a printed roll of actions, to be tried in the order of their entry, with the names of the solicitors for each litigant. Similar to the calendar of causes, or docket, used in American courts.
It reflects particulars like the serial number at which the case is listed, case number, case type, the year of institution, case title (party name), and details of counsel for the parties. The Cause Lists are sorted or filtered on the basis of the judges hearing the matters, the subject matter, the nature of the case and also the urgency of the case. There can be separate cause lists for different stakeholders i.e. court-wise, judge-wise, advocate-wise, officer-wise, and party-wise.
A [daily] cause list is a schedule of cases that are to be heard by a court on a particular day. It typically includes:
- the court hall and name of the judge or bench presiding,
- the case number,
- names of the parties involved as well as advocates on record to argue the case,
- the stage of the case or purpose of the listed hearing and
- the time at which the case is scheduled to be heard.
The court registry or administrative staff in the court usually prepares the cause list.
Cause lists are typically published electronically the evening before as well as posted outside the designated court hall before the day's proceedings begin.
Official Definition of Cause List
The Handbook on Practice and Procedure and Office Procedure, of the Supreme Court of India
Rule 1 of Chapter XIII on Listing of Cases that
“1. (a) The Registrar (J-I) shall list the cases before the Benches in accordance with the roster under the directions of the Chief Justice.
(b) All cases, so listed, shall be published in a cause list under the signature of Registrar (J-I) and ported on the official website of the Court.
2. Publication of the cause list shall be the only mode of intimation of listing of a case, unless otherwise ordered by the Chief Justice. However, notice of hearing may be sent to a party in-person, through usual mode of service, e-mail, or such other mode, as may be permitted.”
High Court Rules
Various High Courts in their official rules also make provisions relating to Cause List
Allahabad High Court
- Rule 6 under Chapter VI of the Allahabad High Court Rules (Rules of the Court, 1992) defines a cause list as
“Cause List :- The Registrar General shall, subject to such directions as the Chief Justice may give from time to time, cause to be prepared a Cause List for each day on which the Court sits containing lists of cases which may be heard by the different Benches of the Court. The List shall also state the hour at which and the room in which each Bench shall sit. “
Delhi High Court
Rule 1 of Chapter XVIII of Delhi High Court (Original Side) Rules, 2018 provides
“Cause lists.— The cause list shall be prepared under the directions of the Registrar General and signed by him. The cause list of the Court would comprise of the categories of cases as follows:
- Supplementary matters (fresh matters and fresh applications)
- Short matters including Case Management hearings
- Short cause matters
- Final matters
The Court shall have the discretion to direct listing of any matter in any category”
High Court of Madhya Pradesh
- Rule 1 of Chapter XII of M.P. High Cort Rules provide
“(1) The Registrar shall list the cases before benches in accordance with the provisions contained in this chapter and as per the directions of the Chief Justice.
(2) All cases, so listed, shall be published in a cause list under the signature of the Registrar. The Section Officer/Assistant, cause list section shall be responsible for preparation of such cause list.”
Kinds of Cause List
The following types of cause lists are commonly displayed/ uploaded on the website and display board- Daily cause list, Weekly cause list, Supplementary cause list and Advanced/Monthly cause list.
Advanced Cause List
Advanced Cause List comprises those matters which have been heard before the court and now are in routine hearings. It is published on a weekly or monthly basis depending on the prevalent practice in the particular court.
Daily Cause List
Daily Cause List is a combination of main and supplementary Cause Lists. The supplementary Cause list is a part of the daily cause list and lists other matters as per the rules of respective High Court Rules.
Daily Cause List includes Urgent matters, motion matters, and regular matters.
only those cases are listed which are filed on the same day with an urgent form containing a prayer for urgent listing and generally involve stay matters, anticipatory bail matters, regular bail matters, transfer applications or any urgent interim directions sought from the Court.
all cases wherein notice of motion has been issued or cases which do not fall in the category of urgent cases, are listed. Both these lists are issued/uploaded on the internet a day prior to the date of listing.
They are issued periodically, especially when Roster is changed, and contains the cases for hearing lying admitted.
Taken Up List
In addition to these lists, one list is issued called the 'taken up list' wherein the cases to be taken out of the regular list by the Court on a particular date are shown.
Based on how they are uploaded
There are different practices with respect to publication and the file format in which causelists are made available. Below is an illustrative list of such distinctive practices in courts and tribunals:
Cause Lists available as PDFs of physical records that have been scanned or converted to PDFs.
Allahabad High Court
Calcutta High Court
Gujarat High Court
Cause Lists also available as HTML files
Bombay High Court
Madras High Court
AP High Court
Cause Lists retrievable in other formats like .csv
Debt Recovery Tribunals
High Court of Karnataka
Madhya Pradesh High Court
Patna High Court
Rajasthan High Court
Live status of Advanced Cause List.
Andhra Pradesh High Court
Distinctive Practices in High Courts
Variations based on advanced cause list on a weekly and monthly basis
average number of cases listed on a daily cause list
Role of mentioning in altering/modifying cause lists
time of the hearing, if mentioned. Some tribunals have dedicated time slots.
Advocate-wise sorting, whether it considers parallel matters.
- The cause list reflects the length/period for which the matter is pending, the number of adjournments as practised by Patna High Court, stage at which the case is for hearing.
- Appropriate nomenclature may be used in the cause list to indicate the stage of the case M.P. High Court rules comprehensively deal with mentioning matters.
- Gujarat High Court - The listing of matters would be limited to 25 matters approximately per Bench for a day.
Suggestions/ Way Forward
Effective listing principles should be duly observed. these include:
- ensuring that cases are scheduled in an efficient and orderly manner,
- avoiding delays,
- event certainty and
- ensuring that cases are heard by the appropriate judge or bench.
Technology can assist in the preparation of causelists by automating the process of scheduling cases and ensuring that they are assigned to the appropriate judge or bench. It can also help to reduce errors and ensure that cases are scheduled in the most efficient manner possible.
- Cause list preparation can be made more scientific if supported by a consistent study of the variance in the number of cases listed across courts, identifying the exact stages at which cases are clogging the pipeline for the longest duration, and the nature of cases left over. This will also ensure that only as many cases as can be reasonably heard will be listed on a daily basis.
- The cause list should have cases methodically distributed by type and stage. The court can decide on a minimum and maximum number for particular matters.
- In the cause list, final hearings are generally listed at the end, inevitably accounting for the largest leftovers. It may be a good practice to list such hearings in the beginning.
- Disposing of old and pending matters must be prioritised. Despite allotting two days in a week to hearing these matters for most of the day, most of the High Court has a massive docket of old pending cases. Their rate of case movement in newer matters (taken up on all other days of the week) was much faster than case movement recorded on specific days where old cases were listed. A solution would be to implement a policy where no adjournments are granted for frivolous reasons.
- Scientific listing practices must be uniformly adopted. This will introduce standardisation across courts and help disincentivise judges from using discretionary practices in the number and nature of cases listed before them. It will promote fairness — a reasonable number of cases would be listed every day, and distributed across the day based on stage and case type.
- Circular dated 14.06.2020, Gujarat High Court https://gujarathighcourt.nic.in/hccms/sites/default/files/miscnotifications/Circular%20-%20Order%20of%20Honourable%20Chief%20Justice%20-%20Roster%20from%2015062020%20with%20new%20Email%20Chart.pdf