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UPSC Essentials: Article 142- All you need to know

Article 142 provides a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties, where at times law or statute may not provide a remedy. In those situations, the Court can extend itself to put a quietus to a dispute in a manner that would fit the facts of the case.

Article 142 of the Constitution of India provides a special and extraordinary power to the Supreme Court to do complete justice to the litigants who have suffered traversed illegality or injustice in the proceedings. (Representative image)

The release of AG Perarivalan in the Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case has brought Article 142 in news once again. UPSC Aspirants must know what Article 142 is all about for their UPSC- CSE Prelims and GS II Mains.

Syllabus

Prelims- Current Events and Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains- GS II-   Constitution

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What is Article 142?

Article 142 provides a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties, where at times law or statute may not provide a remedy. In those situations, the Court can extend itself to put a quietus to a dispute in a manner that would fit the facts of the case.

What does the Constitution exactly say about Article 142?

Article 142(1) states that “The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe”.

What is the idea behind Article 142?

Article 142 of the Constitution of India provides a special and extraordinary power to the Supreme Court to do complete justice to the litigants who have suffered traversed illegality or injustice in the proceedings. 

Why did the Constituent Assembly feel the need to incorporate Article 142?

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The necessity for incorporating such an article into the Constitution was spelt out in the Constituent Assembly. The framers of the Constitution felt that this provision is of utmost significance to those people who have to suffer due to the delay in getting their necessary reliefs due to the disadvantaged position of the judicial system. According to  Shri Thakur Das Bhargava, natural justice is above law, and the Supreme Court will also be above law, in the sense that, it shall have full right to pass any order that it considers just. This gives almost unlimited powers to the Supreme Court. Therefore, the Supreme Court shall exercise these powers and will not be deterred from doing justice by the provision of any rule or law, executive practice or executive circular or regulation etc.

What are the important instances where the Supreme Court has invoked its plenary powers under Article 142?

Manohar Lal Sharma v. Principal Secretary- the Supreme Court can deal with exceptional circumstances interfering with the larger interest of the public in order to fabricate trust in the rule of law.

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A.R. Antulay v. R.S. Nayak– the Supreme Court held that any discretion which is given by the court should not be arbitrary or in any way be inconsistent with provisions of any statute laid down. 

Laxmi Devi v. Satya Narayan- Supreme Court had ordered the accused, under Article 142, to award compensation to the victim with whom he had sexual intercourse with a promise to marry and had later retracted his promise. Also, the order made clear that the accused should not be convicted of rape.

Union Carbide Corporation v. Union of India– In Bhopal Gas Tragedy Case, the court ordered to award compensation to the victims and placed itself in a position above the Parliamentary laws.

 Siddiq v. Mahant Suresh Das– popularly known as the Ayodhya dispute, the Supreme Court had exercised the powers mentioned under Article 142 of the Constitution. It first refused to make two divisions of the land and it entirely handed over 2.77 Acre of land to Hindus. But the court felt that it would be an injustice to the Muslim parties by dismissing the Sunni Waqf Board’s claim as they witnessed an illegal demolition of their mosque in the year 1992. The Central Government was directed by the Supreme Court to grant a five-acre land in an alternative site within the purview of the area being acquired by the Central Government. Also, by the virtue of Article 142, it again directed the Central Government to include the Nirmohi Akhada in a body which would further be responsible for the management of the land.  

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What are some other popular instances where the Supreme Court has used its power under Article 142?

Manipur Speaker Case- Keisham Meghachandra Singh v. Hon’ble Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly.

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Divorce On The Ground Of Irretrievable Breakdown Of Marriage- Munish Kakkar v. Nidhi Kakkar.

Point to ponder- What is the relation between Article 142, judicial activism and judicial restraint?

(sources: constitutionofindia.net, legalserviceindia.com)

First published on: 18-05-2022 at 14:45 IST
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