It is very common that the obiter dictum is misinterpreted as the judgement leading to so much unnecessary discussions, thereby creating uproar among the masses. Before any such discussion is undertaken on the open platforms of media channels, it is very essential to understand the difference between an obiter dictum and a judgement.
As far as FAST (Financial Aide for Student of Telangana), a Government Welfare Scheme proposed by the Telangana government in the past, is concerned, the recent judicial opinion of state high court states, “Telangana is part of India… They are people of Hyderabad.” As reported, the state High Court suggested the Telangana government to reconsider the GO issued, and ordered to counter-petition within 6 weeks. There are so many different discussions that have been taking place on various podiums over this very matter leading to a sort of confusion among the general public.
In general, the remarks of a judge which are made as comments, illustrations or thoughts that may not be necessary in arriving at a decision is called obiter dictum. Conversely, a judgment – in legal context – is the formal decision made by a court following legal proceedings.
In this context, there is a need to understand the concept of ratio decidendi as well. It is a legal axiom that denotes to the legal, moral, political, and social principles used by a court to compose the rationale of a particular judgment. There is a vast difference between the two legal terms obiter dicta and the ratio decidendi. It is a widespread practice that through the doctrine of stare decisis – decidendi is adopted as a general rule binding on courts of lower and later jurisdiction.
A judicial statement becomes a ratio decidendi only if it refers to the crucial facts and law of the case. From the other end, the statements that are not crucial, those which refer to hypothetical facts and to unrelated law issues are considered as obiter dicta. The crucial minute observation should be that Obiter dicta are to be seen as the remarks or observations made by a judge that, although included in the body of the court’s opinion, do not form a necessary part of the court’s decision. Unlike ratio decidendi, obiter dicta are not the subject of the judicial decision, even if they happen to be correct statements of law. The Wambaugh’s Inversion Test comprising of five steps can effectively determine whether a judicial statement is a ratio decidendi or obiter dicta. In this test, the argument should be inverted and checked in order to ensure if the decision would have been different, had the statement been omitted. In this case, the statement is found crucial and is considered as the ratio decidendi; else, it is an obiter dictum. In veracity, the essence of the judicial decision lies in its ratio and not every observation found in the case.
Article 141 in the Constitution of India 1949 states that the Law declared by the Supreme Court to be binding on all courts within the territory of India. From the other end, a deliberate judicial decision arrived at after hearing an argument on a question that arises in a case may make up a precedent. In order to understand and appreciate the binding force of a decision, it is always necessary to consider the facts in the case in which the decision was given and what was the point which had to be decided.
Inappropriate communication would lead to prejudice. Communication is the life blood of everything that essentially has human beings as its stakeholders. It is the process of information through various means like the exchange of ideas, feelings, et al. Even non-verbal gestures play a vital role in this regard. As it is rightly said – even a war could be won with effective communication. The opposite is also promising – if the communication turns pointless. Thus, there arises a need to understand the concepts before taking up for discussion, in order to provide first-rate information to the masses.
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