Article 142 : Analysis of its usages

Article 142 –  Enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court
  • 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 orders 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
  • Subject to the provisions of any law made in this behalf by Parliament, the Supreme Court shall, as respects the whole of the territory of India, have all and every power to make any order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person, the discovery or production of any documents, or the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself
 
Constructive application
  • Taj Mahal restoring white marble case
  • Release of Undertrials rotting in jail
  • Union Carbide case: In this judgment, the Supreme Court, while awarding compensation of $470 million to the victims, went to the extent of saying that to do complete justice, it could even override the laws made by Parliament.
  • Using this power, SC appointed UP’s Lokayukta due to “lack of consensus” among the State’s constitutional authorities — the Chief Minister, the Opposition leader and the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court.
  • SC form Justice Lodha Panel to monitor MCI
 
Examples of negative impacts of A 142 usage:
  1. The coal block allocation case: Allocation of coal blocks granted from 1993 onwards was cancelled in 2014 without even a single finding that the grantees were guilty of any wrongdoing. The cancellation carried with it a penalty of Rs. 295 per tonne of coal already mined over the years. The individuals were not heard on their particular facts, but only their associations were heard.
  2. The ban on the sale of alcohol along national and State highways: While the notification by the central government prohibited liquor stores along National Highways only. The Supreme Court put in place a ban of a distance of 500 metres by invoking Article 142. Additionally, and in the absence of any similar notification by any of the State governments, the court extended the ban to State highways as well. As a result of the order, thousands of hotels, restaurants, bars and liquor stores were forced to close down or discontinue the sale of liquor, resulting in lakhs of employees being thrown out of employment.
 
What should be done?
  • All cases invoking Article 142 should be referred to a Constitution Bench of at least five judges so that this exercise of discretion may be the outcome of five independent judicial minds operating on matters having such far-reaching impact on the lives of people
  • In all cases where the court invokes Article 142, the government must bring out a white paper to study the beneficial as well as the negative effects of the judgment after a period of six months or so from its date.