Article 142 of the Constitution of India

The power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India has been variously defined by Supreme Court in its separate Judgments, e.g. as a ‘plenary power’, ‘curative power’, ‘power to crease out the edges’, ‘residual power’ etc -- whereas it would be more appropriate to view the intended import & purpose of Article 142 as a well-intentioned yet limited experiment with the ‘civil law’ system to achieve the ultimate goal of a Judgment that is instantaneously respected by the people because of the depth of its Truth [as meant by the vernacular Hindi phrase “Doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani” {a Judge’s sincerest & laborious effort to reach for the depths of Truth -- out of the web of untruth woven by clever, cunning & guileful Lawyer(s) & Witnesses who may bring on judicial record, either deliberately or inadvertently, as ‘evidence’ that which is, in fact, either a ‘mistake of facts or distortion of facts’}; thus, the aim & object of Article 142 is to ensure that a case is not merely disposed of by the ‘court-of-last-resort’ without, in fact, also dispensing ‘Justice’ -- in the truest sense of this term in that case/matter/cause. The genesis of the said Article probably lies in the following circumstances which prevailed at the time of framing of the Constitution of India:-

The Drafters of the Constitution were mostly Lawyers who graduated in Laws in an educational system whose syllabi mainly consisted of examples from the ‘common law’ system; because they were more familiar with this system, they possibly felt comfortable with this system, rather than boldly experimenting with the ‘civil law’ system -- although in a country in which almost 1/3rd of the population lives Below Poverty-Line, the ‘adversarial system of justice delivery’ fails to provide a level playing ground to the majority of its citizens who are financially unable to afford the very high Fees of the better (more knowledgeable, cunning & resourceful) Lawyers. And in this uneven situation/circumstance, the proceedings before a court of law merely becomes a battle between the adversary Parties Advocates’ wits and their Witnesses’ guile -- rather than leading to the ideal situation that facilitates impartial elicitation and weighing of the True facts (that is to say, in the present era, at least some of the Lawyers tend to ‘mislead’ the Court rather than ‘assist’ it -- although the main function of Advocacy is to assist the Court in delivering qualitative, complete and true ‘Justice’).

Moreso, the said Drafters were unsure as to whether Indian ‘subordinate’ (lower) judiciary was at that time well-prepared to be ably, efficiently & impartially implement the ‘civil law’ system -- which depends heavily upon the quality of the Trial Court’s Judges, rather than upon the drafting & arguing skills of adversarial Parties’ Lawyers.

Hence, the said Drafters experimented with the ‘civil law’ system only to the extent of handing over this ‘magical wand of Justice’ to the wizened Hon’ble Judges of only the Apex Court -- so that the latter may be able to focus, in appropriate cases/matters/causes, on dispensation of Justice, instead of being concerned solely with the rate of disposal of cases before the Court and blaming the outcome of the case to the inherent ills of the ‘adversarial system’; that is to say, Article 142 empowers this Hon’ble Court not to depend upon the props & crutches of the art of advocacy of the cleverer & better- paid Lawyers representing one of the adversary Parties before the Hon’ble Court. This power of Equity was once used by an Hon’ble Judge of this Court in a unique manner to balance the equities -- by paying out of his own Bank Account the paltry arrears of rent owed by a very old citizen who had otherwise no means to pay the same, so that the poor senior citizen would continue to have a roof over his head till his death (which, at that ripe old age, might come at any time).

A similar power is given to the Trial Judge in Criminal matters under Sections 137,  281 & 313 of the Cr.P.C. to elicit the Truth from the ‘accused’ himself/ herself by way of asking the accused pre-drafted Questions -- albeit, after ensconcing the accused within certain safeguards called the ‘Rights of the Accused’, e.g. under Sections 161 (2), 164 (2), Explanation to Section 167, 175 (1) & 313 (3) etc. However, the said power has rarely been used as a valuable tool and in a manner that might output “doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani’. 

 

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