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Aakritu   04 March 2022

Legal maxim

What is the importance of Obiter Dicta?


 1 Replies

Aarushi   04 March 2022

The Latin maxim Obiter Dicta means “something said in passing”. These are the comments or suggestions made by the judges while pronouncing any judgement. These are not legally binding as precedents on lower courts under Article 141 of the Indian Constitution, but can be quoted by legal practitioners in order to sway the Court towards their side. These help in understanding the concerned statute better and getting a clear idea of the judgement. In cases where the judgement is decided by more than two judges and where exists a dissent judgement, the obiter dicta include the dissent opinions too. The contents of the Obiter Dicta can vary from statutes, laws, hypothetical cases, facts any sort of literature that might be related to the case.

Mohandas Issardas v. A.N. Sattanathan

Obiter Dicta was defined in the case as “the opinion expressed in the course of an judgement which does not have any importance in the judgement”. It was also mentioned that in British India, the decision of the Privy Council held the most importance and shall be binding on all the cases along with the Ratio Decidendi.

Trump v. Hawaii

In this case, the obiter dicta by the Chief Justice completely overrides a previous judgement and marks it unfit for any future references.

United States v. Carolene Products

In this case, the language used by the judge actually helps in framing the Doctrine pf Strict Scrutiny. The footnote advocated for adopting stricter ways to analyse hypothetical future situations than the Rational Basis Test.

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