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 :
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 email@example.com and for more please refer www.amlegals.com .)