Article 142: Complete Justice
Article 142 grants the power to the Supreme Court for passing any decree to do “complete justice”. Article 142 states as follows: The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass any decree or make any order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree passed or order made by the Supreme Court shall be executable throughout the territory of India.
In the past, the Supreme Court of India has invoked Article 142 for landmark cases such as the Ayodhya judgment, Union Carbide case (Bhopal Gas Tragedy), and also in some family cases. The Supreme Court had enforced the Article 142 to ensure that complete justice is delivered to the greiving party.
In the Ayodhya judgement, it invoked Article 142. The bench handed over the disputed land to a trust formed by the Central Government for the construction of the temple. And also allocated 5 acres of land for the construction of a mosque in Ayodhya. Representation of Nirmohi Akhara in the trust formed by the Centre Government formed for the construction of the temple.
In the Union Carbide case of Bhopal gas tragedy, the Supreme Court invoked Article 142 for providing relief to the persons affected by the gas leak. In this judgment, the Supreme Court, while awarding compensation of $470 million to the victims, went to the extent of saying that to do complete justice, it could even override the laws made by Parliament by holding that, “prohibitions or limitations or provisions contained in ordinary laws cannot, ipso facto, act as prohibitions or limitations on the constitutional powers under Article 142.”
In a recent family case in Subhransu Sarkar Vs Indrani Sarkar, the parties have been living separately for 16 years, the counsel for the appellant held that the marriage has been dead for all practical reasons. The counsel relied on two judgments Sukhendu Das v. Rita Mukherjee and Munish Kakkar v. Nidhi Kakkar where Article 142 was invoked for dissolution of marriage. The Apex Court taking into consideration the submissions made by the appellant, held that the marriage between the parties is emotionally dead and there is no point in persuading them to live together any more and dissolved the marriage between the parties by exercise of its power under Article 142 of Constitution of India.
In Munish Kakkar v. Nidhi Kakkar, the Apex Court put an end to the bitter matrimonial dispute which lingered for two decades between the parties therein, the Court held that this is a fit case for exercising their jurisdiction under Article 142 and dissolved the marriage between the parties.
In the case of Sukhendu Das v. Rita Mukherjee (supra), by holding that there was an irretrievable breakdown of marriage, this Court invoked Article 142 for dissolving the marriage between the parties therein by observing that they had been living separately for more than 17 years and had no useful purpose would be served by compelling them to live together in matrimony.