Decision of Higher Courts are binding on lower Authorities- Constitutional Powers

In the course of litigations many times it has been seen that, particular matter under consideration has already been decided by the Hon`ble Supreme Court, and even after citing the same the lower authorities like adjudicating authorities or may be tribunal do not follow the same.

Here it shall be prudent to mention that Constitution of India sets out fundamental rights and directive principles in regard to follow the judgement of Supreme Court in similar matters. We have tried to compile the related text and judgements in this regard.

Article 141 of the Constitution of India states as below:-

“The law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India. “

The Supreme Court is the highest authority of India. The role of the Supreme Court is to interpret the law and decide cases coming before it and decide on the questions of law. All the courts are bound to follow the decisions of the Supreme Court. The law laid down by the Supreme Court is always binding on all the courts and the tribunals.

In the case of Som Mital Vs. Government of Karnataka [2008] 3 SCC 753 (Supreme Court of India) it was held that the decisions of the Supreme Court and the High Court must be respected and carried out by the subordinate courts punctually and faithfully. If there is any difference of opinion among the judges of the Supreme Court, law laid by the majority shall be laid down and shall have the binding force. The ruling is a binding on the lower courts and the courts having smaller bench structure.

The law laid down by the Supreme Court is always binding on all the courts and the tribunals. These facts were stated in the case of Union of India Vs. Kantilal Hematram Pandya [1995] 3 SCC 17. (Supreme Court of India).

The decision in a judgment of the Supreme Court cannot be assailed on the ground that certain aspects were not considered or the relevant provisions were not brought to the notice of the Court. [Director Of Settlements, A.P. & ORS. Vs. M.R. Apparao & ANR. [2002] 4 SCC 26].

In the case of Palitana Sugar Mills Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. Vs. State Of Gujarat & Ors [2004] 12 SCC 645, Hon`ble Supreme Court has heavily came down and has stated in its judgement that ignoring the judgment of the Supreme Court shall be considered as an attempt to contempt of the court. Relevant extract of the judgement is given below:

“It is well settled that the judgments of this Court are binding on all the authorities under Article 142 of the Constitution of India and it is not open to any authority to ignore a binding judgment of this Court on the ground that the full facts had not been placed before this court and/or the judgment of this Court in the earlier proceedings had only collaterally or incidentally decided the issues raised in the show cause notices. Such an attempt to belittle the judgments and the orders of this Court, to say the least, is plainly perverse and amounts to gross contempt of this Court. We are pained to say that the then Deputy Collector has scant respect for the orders passed by the Apex Court. “

Hon`ble Supreme Court has very well stated that all the judgements of Supreme Court shall be binding on all the authorities and any authority shall not ignore the judgment.

Judgements of High Courts and Tribunals shall be binding on the assessing officers

In the case of K. N. Agarwal v. CIT [1991] 189 ITR 769 Allahabad High Court observes that assessing officer acts as quasi judicial authority and all the judgements laid down by the Tribunal or the High courts shall be binding on the assessing officer and the officer can not mere ignore the judgment in the ground that tribunal`s order is subject matter of High Court. Also the court construed as judicial indiscipline if the officer does not follow the judgments.

Also in the case of State of A.P. v. CTO (1988) 169 ITR 564, Hon’ble A.P. High Court held that it is not permissible for the authorities and the Tribunals to ignore the decisions of the High Court. Even the court held that authorities shall be guilty of committing contempt of the High Court if the decisions are not followed by them. Relevant extract of the judgment is stated as below:

” If any authority or the Tribunal refuses to follow any decision of the High Court on the above grounds, it would be clearly guilty of committing contempt of the High Court and is liable to be proceeded against.”

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  1. Sudan Suman Kumar says:

    My understanding is that if a matter is pending in upper court then lower court has no authority to pass any order in that matter..
    Am I correct..?
    any citation on this point..
    Thank you 🙏

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February 2024