2017 UPSC LAW OPTIONAL MAINS QUESTION

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SUPREME COURT JURISDICTION UNDER ART.142 :

• Under Art. 142(1), in the exercise of its jurisdiction, the Supreme Court is entitled to pass any decree, or make any order, as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.

• Ordinarily, an UPSC Aspirant with Law as Optional would not recognise this provision as a potent tool in the hands of the Supreme Court to bring about changes in significant policy issues to affect the public at large.In the early years of the evolution of Article 142, the general public and the lawyers both lauded the Supreme Court for its efforts to bring complete justice to various deprived sections of society or to protect the environment.

JURISDICTION UNDER ART.142:

a) CAN BE CIVIL OR CRIMINAL : The expressions ‘cause’ or ‘matter’ include any proceeding pending in the Court and would cover almost every kind of proceeding in the Court including civil or criminal.

b) PURPOSIVE INTERPRETATION : Article 142(1) confers very wide powers on the Supreme Court to do complete justice in any case. The Court has given a broad and purposive interpretationto this provision.

WHY SUCH A KIND OF UNTRAMMELLED POWER GIVEN TO SUPREME COURT>The Supreme of Court of India being the apex court in our country it has to make sure that “Let justice be done though the heavens fall” (fiat justitiaruatcaelum)

WIDE AMPLITUDE OF COMPLETE JUSTICE UNDER ART.142

The expression “complete justice” engrafted in Art. 142(1) is of wide amplitude “couched with elasticity to meet myriad situations”.

1. Power to do complete justice or prevent injustice arising from the exigencies. 2. whenever it is just and equitable to do so and in particular to ensure the observance of the due process of law, to do complete justice between the parties, while administering justice according to law”. 3. The question of lack of jurisdiction or nullity of the order of the Supreme Court does not arise.” 4. It is entirely of a different level and of a different quality and that any prohibition or restriction contained in ordinary laws cannot act as a limitation on the constitutional power of the Supreme Court

THERE IS A LIMIT FOR EVERYTHING. SC LIMITS ITSELF.

The nature of the power must lead the Court to set limits for itself within which to exercise those powers.

  • CAN’T OVERRIDE THE LAW : In some cases, the Court has laid down the restriction on itself with regard to Art. 142(1), viz., the Court does not exercise the power to override any express statutory provisions.[1]

  • NOT AS A LAW MAKER: The power is not to be exercised in a case where there is no basis in law to form an edifice for building up a superstructure.Supreme Court Bar Association v. Union of India SC held that the said article could not be used to supplant the existing law, but only to supplement the law.

HOWEVER IT CAN FILL THE VACUUM: In VineetNarain v. Union of India, the Supreme Court has ruled that ample powers are conferred on the Court under Arts. 32, 141, 142 and 144 to issue necessary directions to fill the vacuum till either the legislature steps in to cover the gap or discharges its role.




[1] In A.R. Antulay v. R.S. Nayak, the Supreme Court has observed in relation to Art. 142:

“… however wide and plenary the language of the article, the directions given by the Court should not be inconsistent with, repugnant to, or in violation of the specific provisions of any statute”


[2] In re, Vinay Chandra Mishra : It was argued that since the power to suspend an advocate had been vested exclusively in the State Bar Council and the Bar Council of India; SC have the power to suspend an advocate from practice for its contempt under Art.142.


RECENT TIMES


However in recent times, usage of Art.142 by supreme court :

  1. Violated the the doctrine of ‘separation of powers’, which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

  2. In its anxiety to do justice in a particular case, the court has at times failed to account for the far-reaching effects of its judgments, resulting in the deprivation of rights of many individuals

CASE 1 : The coal block allocation case: Allocation of coal blocks granted from 1993 onwards was cancelled in 2014 without even a single finding that the grantees were guilty of any wrongdoing. Article 142 invoked. The individuals were not heard on their particular facts, but only their associations were heard. The result was devastating, so far as these lessees were concerned


CASE 2 : The ban on the sale of alcohol along national and State highways:

By invoking Article 142 – SC prohibited liquor stores at the distance of 500 in National State Highways. As a result of the order, thousands of hotels, restaurants, bars and liquor stores were forced to close down or discontinue the sale of liquor, resulting in lakhs of employees being thrown out of employment.


CASE 3 : BABRI MASJID DEMOLITION : Transfer of trial from Rae Bareli to Lucknow. The trial was in fact nearing completion at Rae Bareli; it would now take at least two years for the examination of a few hundred witnesses at Lucknow before conclusion of the trial, as the charge of conspiracy has also to be gone into.


“Complete justice strives at imparting justice not just for one side alone, but for all”


MEASURES THAT CAN BE BROUGHT IN TO LIMIT THE DISCRETION OF JUDGES UNDER ART.142 :

  1. Whenever there is an invocation of Art.142, it must be followed by approval of Constitution bench of atleast 5 Judges.

  2. In all cases where the court invokes Article 142, the government must bring out a white paper to study the beneficial as well as the negative effects of the judgment after a period of six months or so from its date.

CONCLUSION : The time has come for the Supreme Court to introspect on whether the use of Article 142 as an independent source of power should be regulated by strict guidelines so that, in the words of Justice Benjamin Cardozo, the judge “is not a knight-errant roaming at will in pursuit of his own ideal.


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