In Keshav Mills Co. Ltd. v. CIT, (1965) 2 SCR 908 a Constitution Bench enacted circumstances in which a Reference to a Larger Bench would lie. It was held that in revisiting and revising its earlier decision, the SC should ask itself whether in the interest of the public good or for any other valid and compulsive reasons, it is necessary that the earlier decision should be revised? Whether on the earlier occasion, did some patent aspects of the question remain unnoticed, or was the attention of the Court not drawn to any relevant and material statutory provision, or was any previous decision bearing on the point not noticed. What was the impact of the error in the previous decision on public good? Has the earlier decision been followed on subsequent occasions either by the SC or by a High Court? And, would the reversal of the earlier decision lead to public inconvenience, hardship or mischief? In the case of Central Board of Dawoodi Bohra Community v. State of Maharashtra, (2005) 2 SCC 673 a Constitution Bench further observed that, in case of doubt, a Smaller Bench can invite attention of the Chief Justice and request for the matter being placed for hearing before a Bench Larger than the one whose decision is being doubted.
Applying the tests laid down in the aforesaid two cases, 5 Judges in Jindal Stainless Ltd. v. State of Haryana, (2010) 4 SCC 595 found that a Larger Bench ‘needs’ to revisit the interpretation of Part XIII of The Constitution including the various tests propounded in the judgments of Atiabari Tea Co., (1961) 1 SCR 809 and Automobile Transport, (1963) 1 SCR 491.
A 9-Judge Bench is expected to hear the Reference on 18.07.2016. 9 Judges of the SC sat together last for I.R.Coelho v. State of Tamil Nadu, (2007) 2 SCC 1. It has been 9 years.