Doctrine of Stare Decisis in India

Application of principle of Binding Precedent on court of record.

A court of record is bound to follow its own record i.e. its previous decision on the subject. But how far this principle can go? Can a court not change it’s view even if it is erroneous or has become perverse in the course of time?

In England, the Court of Appeal has imposed upon its power of review of earlier precedents a limitation, subject to certain exceptions. The limitation thus accepted is that it is bound to follow its own decisions and those of courts of Co-ordinate jurisdiction, and the “full” Court is in the same position in this respect as a division Court consisting of three members. The only exceptions to this rule are: (1) the Court is entitled and bound to decide which of the two conflicting decisions of its own it will follow; (2) the Court is bound to refuse to follow a decision of its own which, though not expressly overruled, cannot, in its opinion stand with a decision of the House of Lords; and (3) the Court is not bound to follow a decision of its own, if it is satisfied that the decision was given per incuriam, e.g., where a Statute or a rule having statutory effect which would have affected the decision was not brought to the attention of the earlier Court.

Supreme Court of India in it’s the first recorded instance being called upon to consider whether it could overrule an earlier decision rendered by it. After referring to Doctrine of Stare Decisis and English laws leaning in favour of Doctrine and practice of USA Supreme Courts in American law on the subject, it ruled: Continue reading “Doctrine of Stare Decisis in India”