Constitution Bench to decide on correctness of Pune Municipal Corporation, Indore Development Authority

Constitution Bench to decide on correctness of Pune Municipal Corporation, Indore Development Authority

Murali Krishnan

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will decide on the correctness of the judgments in Pune Municipal Corporation and Indore Development Authority.

An order to this effect was passed today by the Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Ashok Bhushan and DY Chandrachud.

“We think it appropriate to state, this Bench shall consider all the aspects including the correctness of the decision rendered in Pune Municipal Corporation (supra) and the other judgments following the said decision as well as the judgment rendered in Indore Development Authority (supra)”, the Court said in its order.

Today’s development puts to rest speculations regarding the scope of hearing in the matter before the Constitution Bench.

It was earlier believed that the Constitution Bench would only consider the limited question of whether one three-judge Bench can hold a judgment of another three-judge Bench per incuriam. The Bench today made it clear that it would go into the merits of the matter.

The hearing in the matter will, however, only happen after item 506.

The controversy itself stems from the judgment, Indore Development Authority v. Shailendra (Dead) Through Lrs. And Ors, which was delivered on February 8 by a three judge Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, AK Goel and M Shantanagoudar.

This Bench had, by a 2:1 majority, held a 2014 judgment passed by the Supreme Court in Pune Municipal Corporation case to be per incuriam.

The catch was that the Pune Municipal Corporation judgment was also rendered by a three-judge Bench of Justices Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph, as well former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha.

When some land acquisition matters came up a couple of weeks ago before a Bench of Justices Lokur, Joseph and Deepak Gupta, the judgment in Indore Development Authority was brought to their notice by the parties.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi said that a three-judge Bench cannot hold a decision by another three judge Bench to be per incuriam. He submitted that once a three-judge Bench decides not to agree with a judgment rendered by another three-judge Bench, the matter should be referred to a larger bench. He, therefore, requested that the matter be sent to a larger Bench.

The Bench also echoed Rohatgi’s views, with Justice Joseph in particular taking strong objection to the judgment of Indore Development Authority.

Subsequently, the Benches headed by Justice Mishra and Justice Goel passed orders directing that such matters be placed before the Chief Justice in order to determine an appropriate Bench for hearing them.

Read the order below. 

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