Legal 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐝𝐞𝐩𝐥𝐨𝐲𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐚 𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐞 and “o𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐚” and “r𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐢” act as a differentiating factor – Supreme Court
In the case of Career Institute Educational Society Vs Om Shree Thakurji Educational Society, the Supreme Court went on to differentiate between “obiter dicta” and “ratio decidendi” while relying upon two decisions:
a. State of Gujarat & Ors. vs. Utility Users’ Welfare Association & Ors- (2018) 6 SCC 21
What is called, “𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭” to identify what is ratio decidendi in a judgment. To test whether a particular proposition of law is to be treated as the ratio decidendi of the case, the proposition is to be inversed, i.e. to remove from the text of the judgment as if it did not exist.
𝐈𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐞𝐱𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐢 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐞.
b. Jayant Verma & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors- (2018) 4 SCC 743
It is not the findings of material facts, direct and inferential, but the statements of the principles of law applicable to the legal problems disclosed by the facts, which is the vital element in the decision and operates as a precedent.
Even the conclusion does not operate as a precedent, albeit operates as res judicata.
𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐬, 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐚 𝐉𝐮𝐝𝐠𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐣𝐮𝐝𝐠𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐚 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭.
The only thing in a Judge’s decision binding as a legal precedent is the principle upon which the case is decided and, for this reason, it is important to analyze a decision and isolate from it the obiter dicta.
1. The legal precedent has to be culled out from the principle upon which a case has been decided. Therefore, every observation made in a case and which forms the body of a judgement cannot be termed as a precedent.
2. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐝𝐞 𝐚 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐩𝐥𝐨𝐲𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐢𝐧 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐲 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐝𝐨𝐜𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐢.𝐞 “𝐨𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐚” 𝐚𝐧𝐝 “𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐢” 𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫.
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