Article 141 – Doctrine of Stare Decisis.
The Author is Yazhini, BBA.LLB (hons), 4th year, SASTRA University.
For any new upcoming there have to be prototypical procedures or guidelines to be followed. In the same way, the Law has its origin of sources namely, Customs, Conventional law, or the Precedents. The Precedents are an established source of law from the Supreme Court that has been taken from the Declared law. The Precedents work as set examples in similar circumstantial conditions of subsequent cases. The decision or judgment that has been signified from a superior court of law can be taken as a guide in the event of similar cases. The need for these doctrines is that the land of law should be clear and consistent. There should not be any disinclination in the certainty of the judgments and decisions given by the court. In India, the Supreme Court is the highest of courts and the decisions made there are to be bound by the other courts.
As per the Precedents are taken into account, it can be classified as the original precedent and the declaratory precedent. The example which is created to be used as a new rule is the former and not creating any new rule and the reliance on the existing precedent is the latter.
Article 141 – application:
Article 141 of the Indian Constitution says that the Law declared by the Supreme Court of India shall bind all the Courts within the territory of India. Generally, when a decision is made by the Court, that has to be referred from a precedent case in written and the interpretations will be done from the circumstantial conditions.
This Article is wide enough to include the Supreme Court in its predicament but it does not bind the Supreme Court itself. But the Court can reanalyse and change the stance. The High Courts in India have to bind by the decisions of the superior court and then construe them according to the specified cases. The boundness is not only considered as the discipline that the High Court has to follow but the Constitution has the direct say over this from Article 141.
In a case of the State of Punjab and others v. Surinder Kumar and others[i], it is stated that the decision of the case is considered precedent only if it decides the question of law.
The decisions given by the Supreme Court cannot be questioned by the lower courts i.e., the High Court, without the correctness of the statement from their side. In a case, the Supreme Court held that “the decision of a court is a precedent if it lays down some principle of law supported by reasons. Mere casual observations or directions without laying down any principle of law and without giving reasons do not amount to a precedent[ii]’’
Rules of application in subjects:
In a variety of situations and judgments, the Court has stipulated the importance of Article 141 using some of the ambits which are also the categories of decisions by the Supreme Court that has no binding force in. they are,
• Obiter dicta
• A decision per incuriam
• A decision passed sub-silentio
• Stare decisis
• Ratio decidendi
® The Obiter dictum is a Latin word which means a “passing statement”. During the decision-making process, the judge of the court utters various statements that have no binding authority because of its passing nature. Thus, in the legal parlance, they are considered as a casual remark and is not given a weightage during the binding.
® Per incuriam is also a Latin word which says “due to lack of care’’. When a decision is made by ignoring the binding authority and contradicts the statutory provision or ignorance of the rule in force of precedent are called as the decision made per incuriam and they have no binding force and are considered wrongly decided.
® Sub-silentio is also a Latin term which is derived as “in silence”. This is used when there has to be a reference to where something is implied but is not expressly stated or written. For example, when the Court uses this term when a case is overruled but not done by saying it so.
® The term Stare Decisis has been adapted from Article 141 which declares that the decision made by the superior court has the binding authority. This term is in its widest ground on all the courts in India except the Supreme Court unless there is an extraordinary or special case in which the correctness of the decision is to reanalysed upon a large public interest.
® The Ratio Decidendi is the base for the judgment to be derived. When the decision is having to be made by the subordinate courts from the precedent cases, the ratio decidendi of the judgments of both the cases will be analysed. Thus, this is an essential point of determination.
Principle of Overruling and Legislative Provisions:
There are also a couple of sorts of ambits where the precedents are not taken. They are overruling the judgment and the provisions of the legislation.
§ In the case of overruling, the binding force of an earlier decision will be curtailed. This is done for the prevention of overflowing proceedings in the same material which may result in uncertainty and lack of clarity in the subject matter. This prospective overruling will be done by the Highest Court or certain courts with equal credibility of a larger bench.
§ The legislative provisions have the authority to abrogate the precedent. Other than the Supreme Court, the Parliament holds an extreme power over legislation. If they pass a statutory law then the effects of the precedent by the Supreme Court can be destroyed.
In a recent judgment given by the Supreme Court, it is stated that the basic principle in the precedent case has the power of binding by law under Article 141 of the Indian Constitution[iii].
To conclude, Article 141 exerts the power of the binding authority of the Supreme Courts on its Subordinate Courts within India to intend the decisions of the superior court as the declared law.
[i] [AIR 1992 SC 1593]
[ii] Rajiv Singh Dalal (Dr.) v. Chaudhari Devilal University and another ((2008) 9 SCC 284)
[iii] Dr. Shah Feasal and Others Versus Union of India and another [(2020) 03 SC CK 0001]