Judicial AnalysisDirective Order Vs Ratio Decidendi

June 19, 20150

Courts of law passes various orders on daily basis , but the applicability of such orders as precedent  always arise as an issue at par dealing with  facts of each and every new case .

The moot question which arises everytime as to whether a directive order can be also held as ratio decidendi i.e precedent for further orders .

In order to understand the same , let us see what is a directive order and how it differs from a ratio decidendi as below :

Directive order 

            A directive order is that order which a court of law passes wherein it directs someone to   do or not do certain things. It’s a piece of paper a judge signs stating the terms someone    must follow or else risk legal consequences.

It is equally important to understand as to whether any specific directive order is binding upon, as ratio decidendi, on those persons who were not a party to such a directive order ?

The answer is ofcourse no . Since , directive orders are contained to only those persons against whom any direction has been passed in an order for certain do’s and dont’s  . Hence , it cannot be made applicable as binding order i.e ratio decidendi for others in public .

 Doctrine of  Ratio Decidendi

            An order is always passed on the basis of facts and law applicable to those sets of     facts . A court arrives at a conclusion  after verifying all such aspects and passes an    order   with observations followed by reasoning to arrive at a conclusion . The    conclusion with a reasoning is a ratio decidendi .

I further rely upon the decision of Honourable Supreme  Court in the matter of Rajiv Singh Dalal (Dr.) Vs. Chaudhari Devilal University, Sirsa and another, (2008) 9 SCC 284, it held that

            The decision of a court is a precedent, if it lays down some principle of law supported by    reasons. Mere casual observations or directions without laying down any principle of      law and without giving reasons do not amount to a precedent .

In the matter of Krishnamoorthy Versus Sivakumar & Ors., the Honourable Supreme Court while disposing the CIVIL APPEAL NO.1478 OF 2015 (@ SLP(C) NO. 14918 OF 2009 held at para 18  that

            (3) The directives given by this Court in Union of India v. Assn. for Democratic Reforms     were intended to operate only till the law was made by the legislature and in that sense    “pro tempore” in nature. Once legislation is made, the Court has to make an      independent assessment in order to evaluate whether the items of information statutorily        ordained are reasonably adequate to secure the right of information available to the   voter/citizen

Meaning of pro tempore

Black’s Law Dictionary

            adv & adj [Latin] For the time being; appointed to occupy a position temporarily

Online Law dictionary

            adj. short for the Latin pro tempore, temporarily or for the time being. In law, judge pro tem normally refers to a  judge who is sitting temporarily for another judge or to an attorney who has been appointed to serve as a judge          as a substitute for a regular judge. When an appeals justice is not available or there is a vacancy, a lower court           judge is appointed Justice Pro Tem until a new Justice is appointed. Small claims cases are often heard by an   attorney serving as Judge Pro Tem.


The courts may take an inference from a directive order but they are not binding as ratio decidendi since most of the directive orders being pro tempore only .

by Anand Mishra, Founder Advocate, AMLEGALS

( The author is a leading indirect tax & corporate laws advocate handling cases in CESTAT & High Courts of India. He can be contacted on anand@amlegals.com and for more please refer www.amlegals.com .)

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