COURT: The Supreme Court of India

CORAM: Justices Indira Banerjee, Hemant Gupta, Surya Kant, M.M. Sundresh and  Sudhanshu Dhulia.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 19 September 2022


The matter came up before a 5-Judge Constitution Bench, from an earlier observation in Shanti Fragrances v. Union of India (2018) 11 SCC 305, wherein it was opined that there is a direct conflict between Kothari Products Ltd. v. State of AP, (2000) 9 SCC 263, State of Orissa v. Radheshyam (2018) 11 SCC 505, Reliance Trading Co. v. State of Kerala (2011) 15 SCC 762 on the one hand, and, CST v. Agra Belting Works (1987) 3 SCC 140 on the other.


What should be the proper guidelines for overruling an earlier decision of the Supreme Court and to what extent should the Courts be guided by the propositions in Ningappa Ramappa Kurbar v. Emperor, the observations of Justice Lokur in SC-AOR Assn. v. Union of India and the judgment in Court of Appeal in Harper v. National Coal Board?


In the present case, the Supreme Court emphasised and restated that a decision by the Larger Bench shall be applicable both horizontally and vertically, regardless of the strength of the judges comprising the Majority.

“It is settled that the majority decision of a Bench of larger strength would prevail over the decision of a Bench of lesser strength, irrespective of the number of Judges constituting the majority.”

The Court further pointed out that in Government of Andhra Pradesh v. AP Jaswal, (2001) 1 SCC 748, it was held that “Consistency is the cornerstone of the administration of Justice. It is consistency which creates confidence in the system and this consistency can never be achieved without respect to the rule of finality. It is with a view to achieve consistency in judicial pronouncements; the courts have evolved the rule of precedents, principle of stare decisis etc. These rules and principles are based on public policy.”

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