The Impact and Implications of the Doctrine of Prospective Ruling in India’s Legal System:

What is the Doctrine of prospective ruling? Under what circumstances does the Doctrine of prospective ruling apply? Are they limited to certain types of cases or legal issues? Can Prospective Ruling be Retroactively Applied to Past Cases? In the case of Sarwan Kumar v. Madan Lal Aggarwal AIR 2003 SC1475, the Supreme Court has defined the Doctrine of prospective ruling and held that “the doctrine of “prospective overruling,” is the law declared by the CourtCourt applies only to future cases, and its applicability to cases that have reached finality is preserved because repeal would otherwise cause hardship to those who had relied on it.” In I. C. Golaknath & Ors vs State Of Punjab & Anrs 1967, SCR (2) 762, comprised of 11 bench judges, gave a landmark judgment that answers the above questions. The Supreme Court gave three conditions in which the Doctrine of prospective overruling can be applied. They are: a) Only in circumstances involving the interpretation of the Constitution can the Doctrine of prospective overruling be used, b) Only the Supreme Court has the authority to apply the Doctrine of prospective overruling, c) In accordance with the fairness of the cause or subject before it, the CourtCourt may amend the aspects of the prospective implementation of its judgment. By using the criteria above, the Court concluded that implementing the principle of retrospective overruling would result in anarchy, and thereby, it can be used for past cases.


M Shanthish Kumar, 5th year B.A, LL. B(Hons.), Veltech School of Law, Chennai


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