Judgment delivered by larger bench to prevail irrespective of number of judges in majority: Supreme Court

Tags: National

A 5 member Supreme Court Constitution Bench on 19 September 2022 held that “a judgment delivered by a larger bench would prevail irrespective of the number of judges that are constituting a majority”. The Court, giving an example, said that the judgment of a 7-judge bench delivered with a 4:3 majority will prevail over a unanimous 5-judge bench.

As per the Bench, under Article 145(5), the concurrence of the majority of judges is viewed as the court’s judgment.

The bench of Justices Indira Banerjee, Hemant Gupta, MM Sundresh, Surya Kant and Sudhanshu Dhulia passed this ruling while answering the second issue in Trimurthi Fragrances Pvt Ltd versus the Government of NCT of Delhi.

What was the issue ?

  • In 2017 a division bench of Justices RF Nariman and SK Kaul referred the matter to the constitutional bench.
  • The question was “if a unanimous five Bench is overruled by a seven-judge Bench where in four judges are speaking for the majority and where three judges are speaking for the minority, then can it be said that a five-judge Bench has been overruled.”


What is a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court ?

  • Article 145(3) of the constitution provides for setting up a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court. The constitutional bench is set up by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 

Members of the Constitutional Bench :

  • A constitution bench consists of at least five or more judges of the court

When is the constitutional Bench setup ?

  • It can be set up in the following cases;
  • (i) When two or three-judge benches of the Supreme Court have delivered conflicting judgments on the same point of law. 
  • (ii) When the President of India has sought the Supreme Court’s opinion on a question of fact or law under Article 143 of the Constitution. 
  • (iii) When a case involves a substantial question of law pertaining to the interpretation of the Constitution Article 145(3).

What is a division Bench of the Supreme Court ?

  • It normally consists of 2 or 3 Judges which hear most of the cases in the Supreme Court.

Total number of Judges in the Supreme Court :

  • At present the maximum number of judges in the Supreme Court is 34 including the Chief Justice of India.
  • Chief Justice of India: Justice U U Lalit.

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