The Punjab Civil and Criminal Courts Preparation and Supply of Copies of Records Rules, 1965, govern the process of obtaining certified copies of court records in the state of Punjab, India. These rules, framed under the authority conferred by Article 227 of the Constitution of India, provide a comprehensive framework for regulating the preparation and supply of copies by copying agencies under the control of District and Sessions Judges and the Judge, Small Cause Court, Amritsar.

Entitlement and Access:

The rules stipulate that any party to a civil or criminal case is entitled to obtain copies of the record at any stage of the proceedings (Rule 3(1)). However, a party ordered to file a written statement cannot obtain a copy of the opponent’s statement until filing their own. Strangers to a case may obtain copies after the decree or judgment, but require the court’s permission or the consent of the document’s producer for exhibits (Rule 3(2)). Notably, strangers are prohibited from obtaining copies in sensitive matters such as matrimonial cases, sexual offenses, and contempt matters (Rule 3(2A)).

Application Process:

Applications for copies must be made on the prescribed Form C.D. 1 with a court fee stamp of forty paise (Rule 9). The rules allow for personal delivery, delivery through an agent, or dispatch by post (Rule 5). Upon receipt, the application is scrutinized for completeness and eligibility (Rule 12).

Preparation and Delivery:

Copies are prepared on typewriters, photocopiers, or computers for English documents and in legible handwriting for vernacular documents (Rule 18). The rules prescribe specific standards for font, paper quality, and formatting (Rule 18(A)). Ordinarily, copies should be ready within three working days, while urgent copies may be provided on the same day or by the next working day’s forenoon (Rule 24(1)).

Fees and Charges:

The Schedule annexed to the rules outlines the fees chargeable for various types of documents. These include copying fees, urgent fees, search fees, and postal charges. Certain copies, such as judgments for convicted persons in jail for appeal purposes, are provided free of charge (Rule 4).

Supervision and Accountability:

The rules establish a clear chain of responsibility with the District and Sessions Judge or the Judge, Small Cause Court as the overall in-charge (Rule 41). They are supported by officers such as the Copying Supervisor, Examiner, and Copying Agent (Rules 42-43). Monthly inspections are mandated to ensure timely delivery and correct affixation of court fees (Rule 51).

Financial Management:

A robust system of financial management is prescribed, including maintenance of income accounts (Rule 53), permanent advance registers (Rule 54), and monthly accounts of income and expenditure (Rule 56). The total income from copying fees is credited to the head “XIV—Stamps” and subsequently transferred to “L.II—C. Misc.—Copying Agency Accounts” (Rule 57).

Preservation and Destruction of Records:

The rules also address the preservation and destruction of records related to copying applications. Rule 39 stipulates that sanctioned applications for copies shall not be destroyed until a stamp auditor has audited the records and registers or until the expiry of three years, whichever is later. This ensures proper accountability and allows for retrospective audits.

Translation Services:

Recognizing the linguistic diversity, the rules make provisions for obtaining copies in languages other than the original. Rule 58 allows for applications requesting copies in English or vernacular languages different from the original document. The rules prescribe specific translation charges (Rule 61) and even provide for the appointment of special translators if the workload justifies it (Rule 59).

Staff Welfare and Performance:

The rules show consideration for the welfare of the copying staff by mandating that they be on the cadre of permanent pensionable establishment and be eligible for provident fund subscriptions (Rule 44). Furthermore, they prescribe minimum educational qualifications for copyists (Rule 45) and set daily out-turn standards (Rule 46(2)) to ensure efficiency. A register of daily work done by copyists is maintained to monitor individual performance (Rule 48).

Refund Mechanism:

A well-defined refund mechanism is established under Rule 37. It allows for cash refunds of court fee stamps in various scenarios such as rejection of application, withdrawal before copy preparation, or when excess payment is made by mistake. This demonstrates the rules’ commitment to fairness and proper financial management.

Handling of Official and Privileged Documents:

The rules recognize the sensitive nature of certain documents. Rule 3(3) treats official letters as privileged documents, and copies are not ordinarily granted. If necessary, permission must be sought from the superior officer before granting a copy of such letters.

Supplementary Provisions:

Interestingly, Rule 63 provides for the application of the Punjab Copying Agencies Manual (1947) in matters where these rules are silent or make insufficient provisions. This ensures that there are no regulatory gaps in the copying process.

Public Display of Fees:

To promote transparency, the Schedule of fees is required to be displayed on notice boards outside copying agencies, court rooms, and bar rooms. This public display helps applicants understand the charges beforehand.

Copies for Public Officers:

The rules provide that copies required for official purposes by Public Officers of the Central Government or of any State Government in India shall be supplied free of cost, provided the application is endorsed by the Head of the Department of the concerned Government (Rule 4(4)). This facilitates inter-departmental and inter-governmental cooperation.

Legal Aid Committees:

Rule 4(6) stipulates those copies of records required by various Legal Aid Committees and Authorities, such as the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee, High Court Legal Aid Committee, District Legal Service Authorities, and Sub-Divisional Legal Service Committees, shall be supplied free of charge. This provision supports access to justice for underprivileged sections of society.

Copies for Borstal Institutions:

In a humanitarian gesture, the rules mandate that copies of judgments ordering detention of boys in Borstal Institutions shall be sent free of charge to the said institutions along with the orders of detention (Rule 4(5)).

Procedure When Record is Before High Court:

Rule 8 outlines the procedure to be followed when an application is made for a copy of a record in a case where the record is before the High Court. In such instances, the application is to be forwarded to the High Court for disposal.

Character Rolls of Copyists:

The rules require that character rolls of copyists shall be maintained in the same manner as for other clerks (Rule 49). This ensures proper record-keeping of the conduct and performance of the copyists.

Employment of Copyists on Other Work:

Recognizing that there might be lean periods in copying work, Rule 47 allows for copyists to be employed on other work for short periods with the permission of the District and Sessions Judge or the Judge, Small Cause Court.

Recovery of Unpaid Fees:

Rule 53(2) provides for the recovery of unpaid copying fees. After the close of each month, the Copying Agent prepares a statement showing cases where fees remain to be realized. This statement is submitted to the Collector through the District and Sessions Judge or Judge, Small Cause Court for recovery of fees as arrears of land revenue.

Handling of Cash and V.P.P. Payments:

Rule 33 mandates the maintenance of a register (Form C.D. 6) for payments received by money order or through V.P.P. (Value Payable Post). All such payments are to be converted into court fee stamps, which are then affixed to the application and cancelled.

Copies of High Court Judgments/Orders:

A recent addition (Rule 3(7)(ii)) allows for applications for supply of attested copies of judgments/orders of decided cases from the High Court to be made to the Copying Supervisor of any District Court in Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh. This decentralization makes it easier for litigants to obtain High Court judgments without having to approach the High Court directly.

Safeguards Against Misuse:

The rules incorporate several safeguards to prevent misuse. For instance, Rule 21 specifies that a copy of a copy shall not be supplied unless expressly asked for as such, and Rule 30(1) requires the Examiner to write “Cancelled” across copies found unfit for issue due to various defects.


These rules strike a balance between public access to court records and the need for procedural safeguards. By standardizing the process across courts, they ensure transparency while maintaining the confidentiality of sensitive matters. The detailed provisions on staff qualifications, work standards, and financial management underscore the commitment to efficiency and accountability in the judicial system.

Contributed by-

Saachi Minocha

National Law University, Jodhpur (2023-28)

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