Doctrine of Stare Decisis – A Short Essay

Doctrine of Stare Decisis – A Short Essay

By Manvee

Introduction to Doctrine

Stare decisis could be a legal term that refers to the doctrine of precedent, well established in common law – court rulings being guided by previous judicial decisions. The name Stare Decisis is taken from the Latin maxim, stare decisis et non quieta movere, and also the translation of the maxim may be a good definition of the rule itself: To stand by precedent and not to disturb what is settled. It’s called to be the doctrine of precedent or of authority. Its meaning is that when some extent of law has been once solemnly and necessarily settled by the decision of a competent court it’ll not be considered accessible examination or to a new ruling by the same tribunal or those which are bound to follow its adjudications.

Foundation of Stare Decisis

The elementary reason behind the doctrine of stare decisis is to maintain the consistency and certainty. This doctrine aims to achieve the key objectives of this system i.e. Certainty, predictability, and stability in law.

In Hari Singh v. State of Haryana[1], it absolutely was noted that it’s true that within the system of justice which is run by courts, one in every of the essential principles to be kept in mind that the courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction should have consistent opinions in respect of comparable sets of facts and circumstances or question of law. If opinions given on identical facts are inconsistent, rather than achieving harmony within the judicial systems, it’ll cause judicial anarchy. The view that has held the sector for an extended time must not be disturbed merely due to the likelihood of another view.

Importance of Doctrine

The importance of a strict and rational observance to the doctrines of adjudged cases is remarkably exemplified in the growth of English Constitutional jurisprudence.

The notion that judges should follow to authoritative decisions of the past has a deep heredity in America’s common-law heritage. After two hundred years of domestic judicial pronouncements on the subject, legal scholars have had ample source material for examinations of the foundations of stare decisis. The most recognizable value of stare decisis is its ability to enhance stability and consistency across time and similar circumstances.

At its most basic level, it satisfies the instinct that, all other things being equal, a legal system is better advised to resolve matters firmly and finally than to search for normatively more appealing solutions on a case-by-case basis. [2]In the same vein, adherence to precedent nurtures the orderly and efficient administration of justice by discouraging successive reiteration of issues that have already been authoritatively resolved. Finally, stare decisis serves to sustain the public’s trust in a principled, law bound judiciary.

Doctrine in India

The doctrine of stare decisis as is known today appears to not have existed in India during ancient or medieval times. It’s only because of the establishment of British rule in our country that the concept of binding precedent came to be applicable in India. British Rule led to the hierarchy of courts as well as reporting of decisions, i.e., the 2 preconditions for the stare decisis. In 1813, Dorin suggested the adoption of the doctrine of stare decisis in India.

The establishment of British rule led to the arrival of the Sardar Diwani Adalats as well as the Supreme Courts at Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. In 1861, the state supreme court Act was enacted providing for the establishment of High Courts by the difficulty of patent. Such courts had original as well as appellate jurisdiction. A hierarchy of courts was thus established[3].
The Government of India Act, 1935 expressly made the selections of the judicature and therefore the council binding on all Courts in British India and thus gave statutory recognition to the doctrine of stare decisis. The Federal courts weren’t bound by its own decisions. After independence, the doctrine of precedent continues to be followed within the country.
Article 141[4] of the Constitution of India makes the ‘law declared’ by the Supreme Court binding on all courts within the territory in India. The Expression ‘law declared’ implies the law creating the role of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court isn’t bound by its own decisions. In Bengal Immunity Co. v. State of Bihar[5], the court observed that there’s nothing within the Indian constitution that anticipates the Supreme Court from departing from its own previous decision if it’s convinced of its error and baneful effect on public interest. In to this point because the tribunal are concerned, the choices of a judicature are binding on all subordinate courts within the jurisdiction of the supreme court.

Landmark Case Laws

Waman Rao & Ors. v. Union of India 1980

There was an Act called Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act 1962, herein after referred because the Act, imposed a ceiling on agricultural lands. Thereafter the ceiling was revised from time to time and certain other amendments were brought into operation. The validity of those Acts was challenged before the Bombay High Court on the ground that they remove the Fundamental rights. Articles 31A and 31B were also brought under the purview of challenge on the ground that they infringe the Basic structure of the constitution. But within the High court level all challenges were rejected. Against the decision appeal was filed within the Supreme Court within the case of Dattatraya Govind v. State of Maharashtra[6]. But those appeals were also dismissed on reasons stated by the Court. This judgment of Duttatraya case was delivered during emergency. [7]Because the emergency had been revoked the petitions were filed within the Court seeking review of the Duttatraya case. Therefore, this case has basically emerged as a review of the Dattatraya case.

Issue regarding Doctrine in this case?

Whether the doctrine of stare decisis can be applied in upholding the constitutional validity of any Article of the constitution or this principle can apply on to laws sought to be protected by those Articles?

The Court has said that the doctrine of stare decisis can only be applied to the laws protected by the Article and to not the Article itself. However, the Court has given specific reasons for saying so. The Court added that it’s disinclined to invoke the doctrine of stare decisis as Article 31A stands constitutionally valid on its own merits independently. The Court has given four reasons for doing so. Firstly, it’s said that Article 31A breathes its own validity by drawing sustenance from the essential tenets of the constitution itself. Secondly, the Court has referred variety of cases where the validity of Article 31A was upheld. Thirdly, the Court reasoned that this principle of stare decisis has limited application only. it’s wise policy to limit this principle to only those areas of law where correction is done by legislation. Otherwise the constitution will lose its flexibility which is critical to serve the requirements of successive generations. The fourth and therefore the last reason is that this doctrine can’t be invoked to shield the Article but the laws only.


While statutes and enactments of the legislature lay down the overall rules to be applied within the adjudication of disputes between parties, the ultimate authority for the interpretation of these rules are the courts. The doctrine of stare decisis makes the decisions of courts, usually the higher forums, binding on subordinate courts in cases within which similar or identical questions of law are raised before the court. The appliance of this doctrine ensures that there’s uniformity and certainty within the law. It saves time and efforts of judges and helps in preventing arbitrary action on a part of judges. The doctrine thus ensures that a minimum of over a specific period of your time law remain certain and folks are ready to conduct their business in accordance with the prevalent interpretation of law. The doctrine is thus within the interest of public policy.

[1]1993 SCR (3) 61, 1993 SCC (3) 114

[2] , Dipti Khatri, UPES Dehradun, Nov. 09,2020, 11.48PM

[3] M.P. Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal & Constitutional History 86-88(6th ed.2010)

[4], Constitution of India,01.11Am, Nov 09,2020

[5] Sept.6,1955

[6] (1977 2 SCR 790)

[7], Abhirup Ghosh – III Year student, Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, Waman Rao Vs Union of India-Certaining the Uncertainty – An Analysis, Nov.15,2020, Sunday, 19:31.

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