Stare Decisis is not Logic Intolerant

Stare Decisis is a Latin phrase which means “to stand by decided cases; to uphold precedents; to maintain former adjudication.” The SC in Indra Sawhney, (1992) 3 SCC 217, in paragraph 26-A of the judgment, observed that in the law certainty, consistency and continuity are highly desirable features. However, the doctrine of Stare Decisis is not an ‘imprisonment of reason’. Concepts are good servants but bad masters. Rules, which are originally designed to fit social needs, develop into concepts, which then proceed to take on a life of their own to the detriment of legal development. The resulting ‘jurisprudence of concepts’ produces a slot-machine approach to law whereby new points posing questions of social policy are decided, not by reference to the underlying social situation, but by reference to the meaning and definition of the legal concepts involved.

The trend of judicial opinion, in our view, is that Stare Decisis is not a dogmatic rule allergic to logic and reason; it is a flexible principle of law operating in the province of precedents providing room to collaborate with the demands of changing times dictated by social needs, state policy and judicial conscience.”

Hon’ble Justice R.C. Lahoti, Mirzapur Moti, (2005) 8 SC 534.

Also see, Sri Jagannath Temple v. Siddha Math, [Civil Appeal No. 7729 of 2009] decided on 16.12.2015.

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