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  • The Supreme Court reaffirmed that, if not expressly stated otherwise, a  court's declaration of law will take effect retroactively. 
  • In upholding the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court's ruling that Munsiffs appointed through direct recruitment on the advice of the State Public Service Commission should be evaluated based on their inter-se merit at the time of selection rather than roster points, the bench comprising Justices Surya Kant made the following observation.
  • Whether the decision in Bimlesh Tanwar v. State of Haryana, which concluded that the decision in P.S. Ghalaut v. State of Haryana is not a good law, is retroactive was one of the issues the court debated. 
  • According to Bimlesh Tanwar, affirmative action under Article 16(4) of the Constitution is intended to represent a class of citizens who are socially or economically disadvantaged. In the case of a nomination, Article 16 of the Indian Constitution is relevant. There is no mention of a fixation on seniority.
  • As a result, seniority is not to be fixed in terms of roster points. If that were to happen, affirmative action would become the rule rather than the exception, which is clearly against the constitutional design. 
  • The court noted that there was actually a statement of law in Bimlesh Tanwar (supra). The same will therefore have a retroactive effect. 
  • The Supreme Court noted in P.V. George v. State of Kerala that "the law announced by a court will have retrospective effect, unless thereafter specified to do so specifically."
  • As can be observed from paragraph 19 of the report in P.V. George, the Court was aware that when the doctrine of stare decisis is disregarded, a change in the legislation may have a negative impact on the interests of the public. 
  • However, this Court maintained that it must use the clearest language feasible when exercising its authority to apply the theory of prospective overruling (in order to eliminate the unfavourable effect). 
  • Since this Court did not explicitly apply the notion of prospective overruling in Bimlesh Tanwar (above), it is evident that anything done as a result of its ruling in P.S. Ghalaut (supra) cannot stand.
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