13 February, 2016


     Obiter Dictum is a mere saying by the way, a chance remark, which is not binding upon future courts, though it may be respected according to the reputation of the judge, the eminence of the court, and the circumstances in which it came to be pronounced.  Thus an obiter dictum means an observation made on a legal point in a decision but not arising in such manner as to require decision. Such obiter has no binding precedent but the observations made by the Apex Court will have considerable weight.
 But, mere casual expressions carry no weight at all and cannot be treated as an ex cathedra statement having the weight of authority. Statements which are not part of the ratio decidendi are distinguished as obiter dicta and are not authoritative.
   Honourable Supreme Court explained inter relationship in fundamental rights and doctrine of Res Judicata, stare decisis and merger in case of Union of India and Others-Vs- Major S.P.Sharma And Others.  It is held that, “Fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution have to be protected, but at the same time, it is the duty of the court to ensure that the decisions rendered by the court are not overturned frequently, that too, when challenged collaterally as that directly affects the basic structure of the Constitution incorporating the power of judicial review of the Supreme Court. There is no doubt that the Court has an extensive power to correct an error or to review its decision but that cannot be done at the cost of doctrine of finality. An issue of law can be overruled later on, but a question of fact, as in the present case, the dispute with regard to the termination of services cannot be re-opened once it has been finally sealed in proceeding inter se between the parties up to the Supreme Court way back in 1980.”

    It is pertinent to note here that under Article 141 of the Constitution, the law declared by the Supreme Court is binding on all Courts and, therefore, even the principles enunciated by that Court, including the obiter dicta, when they are stated in clear terms, have a binding force. The obiter dicta of a Judge of Honourable Supreme Court, even in a dissenting judgment, are entitled to high respect, especially if there is no direct decision to conclude the question under another enactment.

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