On Monday, a Constitution Bench of the Apex Court ruled that a judgment delivered by a larger bench would prevail irrespective of the number of judges that are constituting a majority.
The observation was made by the Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee, Hemant Gupta, MM Sundresh, Surya Kant and Sudhanshu Dhulia passed this ruling while answering the second issue in Trimurthi Fragrances Pvt Ltd versus the Government of NCT of Delhi.
As per the Bench, under Article 145(5), the concurrence of the majority of judges is viewed as the court’s judgment.
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The issue was referred to by a Division Bench of Justices RF Nariman and SK Kaul in 2017.
The Bench had questioned that if a unanimous five Bench Bench is overruled by a seven-judge Bench wherein four judges are speaking for the majority and where three judges are speaking for the minority, then can it be said that a five-judge Bench has been overruled. The Bench had also pointed out that as per the present practice, it’s clear that the view of four learned judges, speaking as the majority in a seven-judge Bench would prevail over a five-judge Bench because they happen to speak for a seven-judge Bench.
In the instant case, the main issue is whether without amending the exemption provision/notification issued under a specific power, a general provision that prescribed rate of tax under different provisions related to tax liability determination under the Act could be deemed to have withdrawn exemption just because charging provision and the exemption provision is in similar Act and under the same authority.