RATIO DECIDENDI (निर्णय का औचित्य)

Ratio Decidendi is a Latin phrase meaning ‘the reason’ or ‘the rationale for the decision’.

The Ratio Decidendi is ‘the point in a case that determines the judgement’ or ‘the principle that the case establishes’. Ratio Decidendi literally means ‘reason for deciding’.

In the judicial context, it is the reason which is cited for arriving at a decision in a case. Such reason is not the law that is getting attracted in the contemporary case but is the necessary notion which helps the court arrive at a particular decision.

It is this part of the precedent which has to be followed by the courts in subsequent decisions but not the general observations of the court. There is a dispute of law involved with respect to the reasoning given by the judgment and not a dispute of fact.

As the facts cannot be similar in other cases, the observations pertinent to the facts made by the judge cannot be binding in the other cases though the similar laws are attracted but the reasons for arriving at a decision are binding. In case there are multiple reasons for deciding in a manner, all those reasons will be binding in the subsequent cases.

In the case of Commissioner of Income Tax vs M/s Sun Engineering Works Private Limited AIR 1993, SC 43, the Hon’ble Apex Court held that, “while applying the decision to a later cases, the court must carefully try to ascertain the true principle laid down by the decision of the Supreme Court and not to pick out words or sentences from the Judgment divorced from the context of question under consideration by the court to support their reasoning.“

If the judgment gives no reason for deciding a point, this would not be binding because what is binding is the reasons for the decision.

OBITER DICTA (प्रासंगिक उक्ति)

Obiter dictum is the Latin phrase meaning “other things said”, that is, a remark in a judgment that is “said in passing”. It is a concept derived from English common law, whereby a judgment comprises only two elements: Ratio Decidendi and Obiter Dicta.

For the purposes of judicial precedent, Ratio decidendi is binding, whereas obiter dicta are persuasive only. However, obiter dicta of the Supreme Court are binding on all courts and Tribunals within the territory of India

A judicial statement can be ratio decidendi only if it refers to the crucial facts and law of the case. Statements that are not crucial, or which refer to hypothetical facts or to unrelated law issues, are obiter dicta. Obiter dicta (often simply dicta, or obiter) are remarks or observations made by a judge that, although included in the body of the court’s opinion, do not form a necessary part of the court’s decision. In a court opinion, obiter dicta include, but are not limited to, words “introduced by way of illustration, or analogy or argument”. Unlike ratio decidendi, obiter dicta are not the subject of the judicial decision, even if they happen to be correct statements of law. The so-called Wambaugh’s Inversion Test provides that to determine whether a judicial statement is ratio or obiter, you should invert the argument, that is to say, ask whether the decision would have been different, had the statement been omitted. If so, the statement is crucial and is ratio; whereas if it is not crucial, it is obiter.

RES JUDICATA (पूर्वनिर्णीत)

Res Judicata is a phrase which has been evolved from a Latin maxim, which stand for ‘the thing has been judged’, meaning there by that the issue before the court has already been decided by another court, between the same parties. Therefore, the court will dismiss the case before it as being useless.

Res Judicata as a concept is applicable both in case of Civil as well as Criminal legal system. The term is also used to mean as to ‘bar re-litigation’ of such cases between the same parties, which is different between the two legal systems. Once a final judgment has been announced in a lawsuit, the subsequent judges who are confronted with a suit that is identical to or substantially the same as the earlier one, they would apply the Res Judicata doctrine ‘to preserve the effect of the first judgment’. This is to prevent injustice to the parties of a case supposedly finished, but perhaps mostly to avoid unnecessary waste of resources and time of the Judicial System.

And, therefore, the same case cannot be taken up again either in the same or in the different Court of India. This is just to prevent them from multiplying judgments, so a prevailing plaintiff may not recover damages from the defendant twice for the same injury.

STARE DECISIS (निर्णीतानुसार)

The principle by which judges are bound to precedents is known as Stare Decisis (a Latin phrase with the literal meaning of “to stand in the-things-that-have-been-decided”)

The doctrine under which courts adhere to precedent on questions of law in order to insure certainty, consistency, and stability in the administration of justice with departure from precedent permitted for compelling reasons (as to prevent the perpetuation of injustice).

Stare Decisis is a doctrine used in all court cases and with all legal issues. A doctrine is simply a principle, or an instruction, but it’s not necessarily a rule that cannot ever be broken.

The Doctrine of Stare Decisis means that courts look to past, similar issues to guide their decisions. The past decisions are known as precedent. Precedent is a legal principle or rule that is created by a court decision. This decision becomes an example, or authority, for judges deciding similar issues later. Stare Decisis is the doctrine that obligates courts to look to precedent when making their decisions. These two principles allow American law to build case-by-case, and make our legal system a common law system.


Res judicata means “a thing adjudicated”; “a case already decided”; or “a matter settled by a decision or judgment”. Stare decisis means “to stand by decided cases”, “to uphold precedents”, “to maintain former adjudications”, or “not to disturb settled law”.

Res judicata binds parties and privies, while stare decisis operates between stranger also and binds courts from taking a contrary view on the point of law already decided. Res judicata presupposes judicial finding upon the same facts as involved in subsequent litigation between the same parties. Stare decisis applies to same principle of law to all parties.


Disclaimer: The author of the article is Nayan Jain (Author Member of GSTCORNOR). TEAM GSTCORNOR® disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this Insight report to the fullest extent permitted by law. In case if you have any query or require more information please feel free to revert us anytime.

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June 2021