stare decisis

The doctrine of stare decisis or precedents is the distinguishing characteristic of the English common law. It envisages that judicial decisions have a binding force for the future. The doctrine of stare decisis in Britain envisages that the lower courts are bound by the decisions of the higher courts and, thus, every court in Britain is bound by the decisions of the House of Lords. The Indian Judicial system is also characterized by a scheme of hierarchy of courts, the Supreme Court being the Apex Court and, therefore, the doctrine of binding precedent is the cardinal feature of the Indian Legal System.

The Indian Constitution specifically and unequivocally lays down this proposition in Article 141 which says that “the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India.” Thus, all courts are bound to follow the decisions of the Supreme Court. The law declared by the Supreme Court is the law of the land. Judgments of the Supreme Court constitute a source of law.

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