The judge may go on to speculate about what his decision would or might have been if the facts of the case had been different. This is an obiter dictum.
The binding part of a judicial decision is the ratio decidendi. An obiter dictum is not binding in later cases because it was not strictly relevant to the matter in issue in the original case. However, an obiter dictum may be of persuasive (as opposed to binding) authority in later cases.
A difficulty arises in that, although the judge will give reasons for his decision, he will not always say what the ratio decidendi is, and it is then up to a later judge to “elicit” the ratio of the case. There may, however, be disagreement over what the ratio is and there may be more than one ratio.
In a judgement delivered by a court, what part is a binding precedent is relevant so as to be precise as to what is ultimately biding proposition to other courts. What the court decides generally is ratio decidendi or rule of law which it is authority.
As against persons not parties to suit or proceeding general rule of law i.e, ratio decidendi is binding. The rule of law or ratio decidendi is that what is applied and acted upon by the Court . The rules of law or ratio decidendi are developed by courts and are thus creatures of courts.
The ratio has to be developed by judges while deciding cases before them. Statement made by judges when giving lectures are statements made in extra judicial capacities and are therefore not binding. In the course of judgement a judge may make observations not precisely relevant to decide the issue.
These observations are obiter dicta and are having no binding authority but are none the less important. These obiter dicta are helpful to rationalize law only to suggest solutions to problems not yet decided by the Court.
Any ratio decidendi are amenable to distinction on different facts and thus where the meaning thereof are widened , restricted, distinguished or explained , the latest interpretation of ratio decidendi in later cases becomes authority to these state of facts and in that sense. The rule of law based on hypothetical facts is mere obiter dicta and thus not binding.
Not infrequently it is difficult to find out what is the ratio decidendi in the judgement when several propositions are considered by the Court. In short ratio is general rule without which the case would have been decided otherwise.
The application of the same law to the differing circumstances and facts of various cases which have come up to this Court could create the impression sometimes that there is some conflict between different decisions of this Court.
Even where there appears to be some conflict, it would, we think, vanish when the ratio decidendi of each case is correctly understood. It is the rule deducible from the application of law to the facts and circumstances of a case which constitutes its ratio decidendi and not some conclusion based upon facts which may appear to be similar.
One additional or different fact can make a world of difference between conclusions in two cases even when the same principles are applied in each case to similar facts.
The Regional Manager and another v. Pawan Kumar Dubey, AIR 1976 SC 1766:; 1976(3) SCC 334.
The general observations therein should be confined to the facts of those cases. Any general observation cannot apply in interpreting the provisions of an Act unless the Court has applied its mind to and analysed the provisions of that particular Act.
When we say that a is the abstract ratio dicidendi which alone has the force of law as regard the world at large.
It is a legal phrase which refers to the legal, moral, political, and social principles used by a court to compose the rationale of a particular judgment. Unlike obiter dicta,the ratio decidendi is, as a general rule, binding on courts of lower and later jurisdiction—through the doctrine of stare decisis.
Certain courts are able to overrule decisions of a court of coordinate jurisdiction—however, out of interests of judicial comity, they generally try to follow coordinate rationes.
The process of determining the ratio decidendi is a correctly thought analysis of what the court actually decided—essentially, based on the legal points about which the parties in the case actually fought.
All other statements about the law in the text of a court opinion—all pronouncements that do not form a part of the court’s rulings on the issues actually decided in that particular case (whether they are correct statements of law or not) — are obiter dicta and are not rules for which that particular case stands Ratio
Decidendi is the binding part for the case at hand. Goodheart- He does not accept the classical view that ratio is the principle of law which links the essential determination of the case with the essential or material facts of it and the statement of the judge may or may not do that or may be formed too widely or too narrowly.
It is the general ground upon which the decision is based- Supreme Court of India How to ascertain Ratio Decidendi Krishna Kumar v. Union of India- AIR 1990 SC 1782.
The ratio decidendi has to be ascertained by an analysis of the facts of the case and the process of reasoning involving the major premise consisting of a pre-existing rule of law either statutory or judgment and minor premise consisting of the material facts of the case under immediate consideration.
Therefore, we find that it is the ratio decidendi which is a binding precedent. Other material part is the Obiter Dictum.
Process of Reasoning–
1. Major Premise
2. Minor Premise
In Union of India v. Maniklal Banerjee. Only ratio decidendi is binding and has precedent value.
State of Orissa v. Sudhanshu Shekhar Mishra– A decision is an authority for what it decides and not for what can logically be deduced from it. The only thing in a judge’s decision binding a party is a principle upon which the case is decided. On our analysis, we have to isolate the ratio of the case. A decision contains:
1. Finding of Material Facts- Direct and inferential
2. Statement of the principle of law applicable to the legal problem disclosed by the facts.
- Judgments based on the combined effects of the above two.
Ratio Decidendi is a statement of law applied to the legal problems raised by the facts as found upon which the decision is based. Dalveer Singh v. State of Punjab.
Though we are able to find out the ingredients from the decision. But later on, when there is a similar situation, it is very difficult for him to apply the ratio in that case because a rigorous division of facts has to be made which is not possible.
It is correct that a decision on a question of sentence depending upon the facts and circumstances of a case can never be regarded as a binding precedent, much less ‘law’ declared under article 141 of Constitution of India so as to bind all law courts within the territory of India.
Minerva Mills v. Union of India “If a provision is uphold by the majority, the fact that the reasoning of some of the judges is different from the ratio of that case will not affect its validity”.