Per Incuriam III

Five Judges in Dr. Shah Faesal v. Union of India, [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1099 of 2019] have decided the following.

The rule of per incuriam means a Judgment passed in ignorance of a relevant statute or any other binding authority [See, Young v. Bristol Aeroplane Co. Ltd., 1944 KB 718 (CA)]. The view that the subsequent decision shall be declared per incuriam only if there exists a conflict in the ratio decidendi of the pertinent Judgments was taken by a Five-­Judge Bench decision of this Court in Punjab Land Development and Reclamation Corpn. Ltd., (1990) 3 SCC 682.

A case is only an authority for what it actually decides. The observations made in a Judgment cannot be selectively picked in order to give them a particular meaning. This Court sees no reason to read into Prem Nath Kaul, AIR 1959 SC 749 an interpretation which results in it being in conflict with the subsequent Judgments of this Court, particularly when an ordinary reading of the Judgment does not result in such an interpretation. Thus, this Court is of the opinion that there is no conflict between the Judgments in Prem Nath Kaul and Sampat Prakash, AIR 1970 SC 1118.

At the cost of repetition, we note that the rule of per incuriam is only applicable to the ratio of the Judgment. There are no contrary observations made in the Sampat Prakash to that of Prem Nath Kaul. Accordingly, Sampat Prakash is not per incuriam.”