Online sources such as Wikipedia not completely dependable: SC

A bench of Justices Surya Kant and Vikram Nath said it acknowledged the utility of the platforms that provide free access to knowledge across the globe but also cautioned against using such sources for legal dispute resolution
Representative image
Representative image Reuters

NEW DLEHI: Online sources such as Wikipedia are based on a crowd sourced and user ­generated editing model that is not completely dependable and can promote misleading information, the Supreme Court has said.

A bench of Justices Surya Kant and Vikram Nath said it acknowledged the utility of the platforms that provide free access to knowledge across the globe but also cautioned against using such sources for legal dispute resolution.

"We say so for the reason that these sources, despite being a treasure trove of knowledge, are based on a crowd ­sourced and user ­generated editing model that is not completely dependable in terms of academic veracity and can promote misleading information as has been noted by this court on previous occasions also," the bench said on Tuesday.

The apex court said courts and adjudicating authorities should endeavour to persuade counsels to rely on more reliable and authentic sources.

The observations came in a judgment in a case regarding the correct classification of imported 'All in One Integrated Desktop Computer' under the First Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985.

The top court noted that adjudicating authorities, especially the Commissioner of Customs (Appeal) had extensively referred to online sources such as Wikipedia to support their conclusions.

Interestingly, former apex court judge Justice Markandey Katju had referred to Wikipedia for definition of the term "common law marriage" while delivering a judgment in 2010.

Justice Katju had made information available on Wikipedia the basis for formulating a four-point guideline and ruled that live-in relationships must satisfy it to be categorised as a "relationship" in the nature of marriage under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

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