What’s in the news?
- Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that it can exercise its plenary power to do “complete justice” under Article 142(1) of the Constitution to dissolve a marriage on the ground that it had broken down irretrievably, without referring the parties to a family court where they must wait 6-18 months for a decree of divorce by mutual consent.
- Under The Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), 1955 people need to wait for a mandatory six month period for divorce.
What is Article 142 of the Constitution?
- Under Subsection 1 of Article 142, the Supreme Court “may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter…, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India”.
- While the power available under Article 142 is sweeping, the SC has defined its scope and extent through its judgments. The majority opinion in Prem Chand Garg (1962) laid down, the order should be consistent with constitutional ideals and statutory laws.
- In the Bhopal gas tragedy case (Union Carbide Corporation vs Union of India, 1991) the SC underlined the wide scope of Article 142(1), which confers power “at an entirely different level and of a different quality”.
Other Exceptional Powers of Supreme Court:
- Article 136 of the Indian Constitution grants discretionary powers to the Supreme Court of India to allow special leave petitions.
- The Supreme Court can use this power in exceptional circumstances and when a question of law arises.
- Article 136 only applies to judicial decisions. It does not apply to purely executive or administrative decisions.