Constitution of India

Article – 144. “Civil and judicial authorities to act in aid of the Supreme Court.

The Constitution of India is the fountainhead from which all our laws derive their authority and force. This is next Article in the series on constitutional provisions in order to aid our readers in understanding them.


144. “Civil and judicial authorities to act in aid of the Supreme Court.—All authorities, civil and judicial, in the territory of India shall act in aid of the Supreme Court.”

Article 144 obliges all authorities in the country to act in aid of the Supreme Court. It is, therefore, not permissible in our constitutional scheme for any other authority to claim that power in exclusivity, or in supersession of the Supreme Court’s verdict. Whatever be the controversy prior to the Supreme Court entertaining such a matter, it must end when the Court is seized of the matter for pronouncing its verdict and it is the constitutional obligation of every person and authority to accept its binding effect when the decision is rendered by the Supreme Court. It is also to be remembered that in our constitutional scheme based on democratic principles which include governance by rule of law, every one has to act and perform his obligations according to the law of the land and it is the constitutional obligation of the Supreme Court to finally say what the law is. There is no doubt that the Speakers and all others sharing their views are alive to this constitutional scheme, which is as much the source of their jurisdiction as it is of the Supreme Court and also conscious that the power given to each wing is for the performance of a public duty as a constitutional obligation and not for self-aggrandisement. Once this perception is clear to all, there can be no room for any conflict.

Legislature can render retrospectively ineffective a declaratory decision of the Supreme Court by enacting a Validating Act. But, the Executive cannot escape Court’s direction in a case to which it was a party, by retrospectively altering the rules with a view to nullify the Court’s directions. The remedy may be by way of a review. So long as the decision stands, it has got to be obeyed.

Article 144 of the Constitution mandates that “all authorities civil and judicial, in the territory of India shall act in aid of the Supreme Court. “These authorities are legally obliged not only to act in aid of the Supreme Court for the enforcement of the law declared by the Supreme Court but also in aid of all its orders, decrees or directions. Consequence of deliberate flouting and non-compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court is penal. The Supreme Court may award exemplary costs against defaulting government. Any authority failing to comply with the directions of the Supreme Court may be hauled up for contempt of court and cannot be allowed to plead inability to comply.

Under Article 142 decrees and orders of the Supreme Court are enforceable throughout the territory of India. As a follow up, Article 144 provides that civil and judicial authorities shall act in aid of the Supreme Court. For purposes of giving effect to the directions and decisions of the Supreme Court, all authorities, civil and judicial, in the territory of India, have been made in a way subordinate to the authority of the Supreme Court in as much as all these are required to “act in aid of the Supreme Court”. Non-compliance of any directions of the Supreme Court by any civil or judicial authority may invite contempt of court proceedings and punishment.

Source: Dr Subhash C Kashyap, Constitutional Law of India

3 Comments

  • What is the source of power of the Supreme Court to levy fines for constitutional violations? It is not an offence as defined in Criminal Procedure Code or General Clauses Act.

    The Public Law Remedy as defined by SC in Rudul Sah vs State of Bihar (1983) 4 SCC 141 or Nilabati Behera vs. State of Orissa 1993 SCR (2) 581 needs to be juxtaposed with the lack of jurisdiction to punish in M S Ahlawat vs State of Haryana & Anr. (2000) 1 SCC 278 and other similar cases.

    The general principle defined by the Constitution Bench in 2002 – Padma Sundara Rao (Dead) & Ors. Vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors. (2002) 3 SCC 533 wherein the principle relating to the power of the Supreme Court has been defined as
    Quote
    Two principles of construction one relating to casus omissus and the
    other in regard to reading the statute as a whole appear to be well settled.
    Under the first principle a casus omissus cannot be supplied by the Court
    except in the case of clear necessity and when reason for it is found in the
    four corners of the statute itself but at the same time a casus omissus should
    not be readily inferred and for that purpose all the parts of a statute or
    section must be construed together and every clause of a section should be
    construed with reference to the context and other clauses thereof so that the
    construction to be put on a particular provision makes a consistent enactment
    of the whole statute.
    Unquote.

    Solicit your comments.

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