The Supreme Court of India's Practice of Referring Cases to Larger Benches: A Need for Review
Supreme Court Cases Journal, Vol. 1, p. 37, 2010
14 Pages Posted: 11 May 2011
Date Written: February 1, 2010
Every decision of the Supreme Court of India is treated as a ruling of the entire bench, even if there are one or more dissenting opinions. This fiction of law effectively implies that a nine-judge bench with four dissenting opinions is deemed to be a decision of nine judges, and would override even a unanimous verdict of seven judges. Notwithstanding the fact that the number of concurring views in the judgment of a larger bench is less than that of a smaller bench; the finding of the former prevails.
The issue which is sought to be examined in this article is why this peculiar practice prevails in India. The principle of referring matters to larger benches for reconsideration is neither theoretically nor practically sound. The corresponding systems in operation in several jurisdictions are examined as an index of comparison. The last section of this article sets out a blueprint for the Supreme Court of India which is more appropriate and feasible than the existing system.
Keywords: Supreme Court of India, larger benches
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