A Constitution Bench on Monday decided that majority decision of a Bench of larger strength will prevail over the decision of a Bench of lesser strength, irrespective of the number of judges constituting the majority.
The lead judgment written by Justice Indira Banerjee, who headed the Constitution Bench, held that under Article 145(5) of the Constitution, concurrence of a majority of the judges at the hearing would be considered as a judgment or opinion of the court.
In his concurring opinion, Justice Hemant Gupta agreed with Justice Banerjee, observing that “a decision delivered by a Bench of largest strength is binding on any subsequent Bench of lesser or coequal strength”.
“It is the strength of the Bench and not number of judges who have taken a particular view which is said to be relevant,” Justice Gupta noted.
Moreover, Justice Gupta explained that it was “absolutely clear that a Bench of lesser quorum cannot disagree or dissent from the view of law taken by a Bench of larger quorum”.
“Quorum means the Bench strength which was hearing the matter… Thus, it has been rightly concluded that the numerical strength of the judges taking a particular view is not relevant, but the Bench strength is determinative of the binding nature of the judgment,” Justice Gupta observed.