Hon’ble Justice Vikramajit Sen has yet again described what “holds the field” [See, The Proverbial Chickens of Destiny & Sen J.]. The phrase “holds the field” is to Sen J what a “means and includes” definition is to Nariman J.
“A smaller and a later Bench has no freedom other than to apply the law laid down by the earlier and larger Bench; that is the law which is said to hold the field. A departure may only be made when a coordinate or co-equal Bench finds the previous decision to be of doubtful logic or efficacy and consequentially, its judicial conscience is so perturbed and aroused that it finds it impossible to follow the existing ratio. The Bench must then comply with the discipline of requesting the Hon’ble Chief Justice to constitute a larger Bench.”
See, State of U.P. v. Ajay Kumar Sharma, [Civil Appeal 13727 of 2015].