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SC Must Act as One and Abide by Principles of Judicial Discipline, Propriety: Justice Joseph

The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that this institution must act as one and abide by the principles of judicial discipline, propriety and consistency.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:February 21, 2018, 6:45 PM IST
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SC Must Act as One and Abide by Principles of Judicial Discipline, Propriety: Justice Joseph
File photo of the Supreme Court of India.
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that this institution must act as one and abide by the principles of judicial discipline, propriety and consistency.

A bench, comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta, expressed its concerns while hearing arguments on propriety of a three-judge bench ruling of February 8, that held another three-judge ruling of 2014 to be 'per incuriam' -- not valid any longer.

"I don't want to be silent on this issue. The system exists on certain holy principles. Tinkering with it will have no end and the institution will go forever," said Justice Joseph.

He added: "When the Court is one, it must act as one. If you want it to be one, you will have to make it one."

The bench asked for opinion of senior lawyer PS Patwalia about a bench of coordinate strength upsetting a previous judgment. Patwalia replied that he was not in a position to answer this right away.

"For the sake of the institution, for the sake of the future, you may have to answer it one day," retorted Justice Joseph, asserting his observations are not "strong" but "painful".

About the validity of the previous judgment, the judge said that there is a method to follow when the Supreme Court wants to correct a ruling.

Justices Lokur and Joseph also clarified that the bench was not commenting upon the conduct of the other bench, which held the Pune Municipal Corporation case judgment of 2014 to be 'per incuriam'.

"It is not at all about the conduct of the other bench. It is about judicial discipline, propriety and consistency that we are concerned about," said the bench.

The Court has adjourned the case for March 7 when it will further examine the issue for referring the matter to a five-judge Constitution Bench for an authoritative ruling on the subject of land acquisition.

A three-judge bench, by a 2:1 majority, had on February 8 declared the 2014 judgment to be 'per incuriam'.

This verdict gave an upper hand to the government in matters of land acquisition by holding that acquisition will not lapse even if the compensation money lies in the treasury, and is neither deposited in the court or paid to the land owners.

As a matter of judicial principle, a bench of equal strength refrains from commenting upon a ruling of some other bench, let alone overrule it or declare it invalid by holding it 'per incuriam'.
| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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