Doctrine of Precedent, By Erwin Thomas Wilson@LexCliq

“A precedent is claimed to be a legal ruling that contains the principles,” according to Sir John Salmond. The ratio decidendi is the specified theory that serves as its authoritative aspect. The actual decision is thereby binding between the states, but only the abstract ratio decidendi has legal validity in the rest of the world.” The theory of precedents, which has been structured on the common law tradition of a hierarchy of competent judges, may be called a diligent omnipresence in the appellate system.

It is unthinkable that judges will represent themselves on a legal issue rather than by a reasoned articulation based on prior case law found in their predecessors’ decisions. In India, as in any legal system with common law origins, stare decisis encapsulates a legal philosophy that reflects fighting confidence in the assertion that the law should be based on principles such as consistency and certainty. The presumption that the legal process is concerned with an articulate and correct enunciation of pre-existing legislation rather than the more subjective is at the heart of the stare decisis rationale.

Judges raised in the English common law tradition rationalize their decisions using ratio decidendi from previous cases. They are bound by previous rulings of governing power as a matter of legal principle, but not exclusively as a matter of judicial procedure. According to some works on the Supreme Court and its justices, the Indian Supreme Court lacks “unprecedented conscience.” It is said that there have been several activist judges on the bench who have always declined to follow precedent.

According to Article 141 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court of India is obligated to declare both procedural and substantive law. The word “declared” is said to have a broader meaning than “made” or “finding.” Declare has been described as “an announcement of a particular opinion.” Indeed, the word “made” refers to a procedure, while “declare” refers to a consequence. The Supreme Court’s decision is the rule of the land. It sets a precedence for itself as well as all Indian courts and authorities.

Denying the Supreme Court this authority because it merely “finds” legislation rather than “making” it renders the strong instrument of justice in the hands of the highest court useless. Although the Supreme Court’s function is subordinate to the legislature, it is creative in its interpretation of the law. A law is enforceable; moreover, the statute as read by the Supreme Court is enforceable by all other courts. The Supreme Court is more than just an interpreter of the constitution. It is a basis of legislation and it is a branch of the state.”

What does Article 141 make obligatory?

“What is binding is the ratio of the ruling, not the factual findings or the Court’s view on any issue that was not expected to be settled in a specific case. The rule that will be enforceable under Article 141 will only apply to the Court’s observations on the issues posed and resolved in a case. As a result, in practice, the court does not make any pronouncements on issues that are not explicitly raised for its decision, especially in constitutional matters. The Supreme Court’s general rule of law applies to all, even those who are not parties to the order.

The precedent has different binding natures on different statutory bodies.

  • Binding on Tribunals
    The Supreme Court even stated that tribunals must adhere to the doctrine of precedent. Furthermore, a tribunal is bound by the law established by the High Court and the Supreme Court.
  • Judicial power
    In the case of Paramjit Kaur v. the State of Punjab, the Supreme Court took a step forward in expanding the powers granted under Article 141 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court directed the National Human Rights Commission to investigate extrajudicial killings in Punjab. As a result, the authority of such a Commission was called into question in light of the respective Commission’s constitutional limits and responsibilities. As a result, the supreme court held that it can grant authority over a specific entity outside the scope of the Jurisdiction by issuing orders and directions.
  • Directions’ binding essence and Res Judicata
    The Supreme Court’s ruling, which is neither beyond jurisdiction nor in violation of natural justice values or any applicable clauses of the Indian Constitution, is bound to become a binding decision and hence acts as Res Judicata. Furthermore, under Article 143 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court cannot make such a ruling because it will be inefficient and proceed to an appeal of its own decisions. Only Article 137 of the Constitution, read in conjunction with Order 401 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1966, allows for clarification of such a ruling.
  • Using a specific case as an example
    Over the years, the courts have stated that if the Supreme Court issues a decision under which it does not declare certain principles of law but does issue directions for communication in special circumstances, the High Court, which is subordinate, should locate the ratio decision issued by the apex court and ascertain the law so declared from a careful reading of the decision before it. If the High Court is exercising judicial authority under criminal law, it cannot presume the powers and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to perform its functions.
  • Precedents and Stare Decisis
    “When a precedent is accepted for a long period of time, it matures into stare decisis,” the supreme court claimed in the catena of cases. “It is not anything said by a Judge when pronouncing a verdict that forms a precedent,” the Supreme Court noted, “the only element in the ruling binding upon the lower courts or a party is a premise on which the case has been decided.” As a result, it is essential to examine the decision and separate it from the ratio decidendi. Any simple decision can be made up of three postulates, according to well-established legal principles.
  1. Finding the proper material facts, whether direct or inferential. An inferential finding of a particular fact which a judge draws from perceptible or direct facts.
  2. The statements of the relevant principles of law which are stated applicable to legal principles disclosed by the facts.
  3. The judgment stated is generally a combined effect of the above-stated postulates.

The Supreme Court’s decision cannot be overruled by the High Court.

In the case of Suganthi Suresh Kumar v. Jagdeesham, the country’s highest court duly declared that it is impermissible for the High Court to overrule the Supreme Court’s judgment solely on the basis that the Supreme Court’s decision laid down rules without acknowledging any legal points.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court claimed in Pandurang Kalu Patil v. State of Maharashtra that the decisions of the High Court would be binding unless and until the Supreme Court overrules them.

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