Plagiarism or gaffe? Para in NGT judgment lifted from paper published in ELR

Published on 03 Jan 2018 by Team

Image courtesy- Bar&bench

In what could turn out to be a major embarrassment, a judgment by the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) Principal Bench, which was delivered on December 8, has a certain paragraph copied verbatim from a paper published in Environmental Law Review (ELR).

The paper titled Wildlife corridors in India: Viable legal tools for species conservation? has been authored by Senior Programme Officers at Centre for Environmental Law, Worldwide Fund for Nature – India, Raghav Srivastava and Richa Tyagi.

The NGT judgment has been delivered by the Principal Bench comprising former Chairperson Swatanter Kumar, Judicial members Jawad Rahim and Raghuvendra S Rathore, and Expert Member Bikram Singh Sajwan, in the case of Dr. Kashmira Kakativ. Union of India.

The relevant para, para 48 (a) reads

“Corridors, in the larger space of ecological conservation, occupy a unique niche.  Their role and vitality in species conservation is well documented, but their definition is a source of constant confusion.  They have been generally understood to be ‘Linear landscape elements, meant to establish/facilitate connectivity across habitats and increase survivorship by increasing the diversity of specific gene pools’.  In more technical parlance, ecological literature defines corridors as a `fundamental landscape element (the other two are patch and matrix), being narrow strips of land which differ from the matrices on either side’.”

The said portion can be found at page 206, paragraph 3 of the paper published in Environmental Law Review.

The judgment has taken the said portion verbatim without any citation.

In 2015, the Delhi High court had faced similar embarrassment after it came to light that certain paragraphs of its judgment in F Hoffman-La Roche v Cipla were copied verbatim from a 2013 academic article published in the Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property.The High Court had subsequently owned up the same and deleted the paragraphs from its judgment, while stating that the gaffe had stemmed from an over-zealous intern.

In a suo motu order, the High Court had revealed that an intern had offered to summarize a lengthy 2008 judgment to make things easier. And the Bench was seemingly impressed with the intern’s skills.

“…so well was the draft of the precise submitted that the Bench decided to incorporate the same in the judgment as was submitted to us by the intern.”

The High Court, therefore, offered an apology to the authors for the oversight and proceeded to delete the paragraphs in question from its judgment.


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