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Per incuriam decisions


It has been laid down by their Lordships in the Supreme Court in the case of A.R. Antulay Vs. R.S. Nayak and Another, as per Hon’ble Mukharji, Oza and Natarajan, JJ. that “Per incuriam are those decisions given in ignorance or forgetfulness of some statutory provisions or of some authority binding on the Court concerned so that in such cases some part of decision or some step in the reasoning on which decision is based is found on that account to be demonstratively wrong” (See para 42 of the Report).

In para 47, Their Lordships further laid it down “It is settled law that if a decision has been per incuriam the Court can ignore it.”

That Hon’ble Mr. Justice Venkatachalaiah (as he then was) in the same A.R. Antulay’s case as per para 138 thereof observes and lays it down as under:

“It has been asserted that the impugned directions issued by Five Judges Bench was per incuriam as it ignored the statute and earlier Chadha’s case.

But the point is “that the circumstance that a decision is reached per incuriam merely serves to denude the decision of its precedent value. Such a decision would not be binding as a judicial precedent.”

In the case of State of U.P. and Another Vs. Synthetics and Chemicals Ltd. and Another, ., it has been laid that there are two exceptions to the Doctrine of Precedent namely rule of ‘sub-silent’ and Decision being per incuriam. If a decision falls within either of the two i.e. of sub-silent or of per incuriam the decision loses its binding authority as a precedent or under Article 141 of the Constitution. (See paras 40 and 42).

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