Prospective Overruling

Prospective declaration of law  - Saving actions already taken – “ Further, when the decision of the High Court in S.R. Dass case [(1999)3 SCC 362] had held the field for nearly a decade and the Government, HUDA and the parties to whom the allotments have been made have acted upon and adjusted their affairs in terms of the said decision, to disturb that state of affairs on the basis that now certain other rigorous principles are declared to be applied in Anil Sabharwal case [(1997) 2 Punjab Law Reporter 7] would be setting the rules of the game after the game is over, by which several parties have altered their position to their disadvantage. Therefore, we think that in the larger public interest and to avoid the discrimination which this Court had noticed in the order dated 5.12.1997 [(1998) 8 SCC 373] the decision of the High Court in Anil Sabharwal case should be made effective from a prospective date and in this case from the date on which interim order had been passed on 23.4.1996. Therefore, it would be appropriate to fix that date as the date from which the judgment of the High Court would become effective. If this course is adopted, various anomalies pointed out in respect of different parties referred to above and other instances which we have not adverted to will be ironed out and the creases smoothened so that discrimination is avoided. Prospective declaration of law is a device innovated by this Court to avoid reopening of settled issues and to prevent multiplicity of proceedings. It is also a device adopted to avoid uncertainty and avoidable litigation. By the very object of prospective declaration of law, it is deemed that all actions taken contrary to the declaration of law, prior to the date of the declaration are validated. This is done in larger public interest. Therefore, the subordinate forums which are bound to apply law declared by this Court are also duty­bound to apply such dictum to cases which would arise in future. Since it is indisputable that a court can overrule a decision there is no valid reason why it should not be restricted to the future and not to the past. Prospective overruling is not only a part of constitutional policy but also an extended facet of stare decisis and not judicial legislation. These principles are enunciated by this Court in Baburam vs. C.C. Jacob, (1999) 3 SCC 362 and Ashok Kumar Gupta vs. State of U.P., (1997) 5 SCC 201.” Harsh Dhingra vs. State of Haryana and Others, (2001) 9 SCC 550, referred in 2019 SCeJ 216


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Prospective overruling  - “A large number of trials have been held during the period between 4.8.2005 and 18.9.2014. Electronic records without a certificate might have been adduced in evidence. There is no doubt that the judgment of this Court in  (2014) 10 SCC 473 has to be retrospective in operation unless the judicial tool of “prospective overruling” is applied. However, retrospective application of the judgment is not in the interest of administration of justice as it would necessitate the reopening of a large number of criminal cases. Criminal cases decided on the basis of electronic records adduced in evidence without certification have to be revisited as and when objections are taken by the accused at the appellate stage. Attempts will be made to reopen cases which have become final” - Sonu alias Amar v. State of Haryana, (2017) 8 SCC 570. Referred in 2019 SCeJ 216

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