Article 142 of the Constitution

MAY 17

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Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday exercised the power conferred on it under Article 142 of the Constitution to order the release of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict A.G. Perarivalan

About Article 142 of the Constitution:

  • Article 142 titled ‘Enforcement of decrees and orders of the Supreme Court and orders as to discovery, etc.’ has two clauses.
    • Article 142(1): The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe.
    • Article 142(2): Subject to the provisions of any law made in this behalf by Parliament, the Supreme Court shall, as respects the whole of the territory of India, have all and every power to make any order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person, the discovery or production of any documents, or the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself.
  • From the Union Carbide Case in 1989 to the Ayodhya Ram Mandir judgment in 2019, the top court has many a time invoked its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.

Important instances when Article 142 was invoked?

  • Bhopal Gas tragedy case:
    • The Supreme Court awarded a compensation of $470 million to the victims and held 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.”
  • Babri Masjid demolition case:
    • The Supreme Court ordered framing of a scheme by the Centre for formation of trust to construct Ram Mandir at the Masjid demolition site in Ayodhya.
  • Liquor sale ban case:
    • The Supreme Court banned liquor shops within a distance of 500 metres from National as well as State highways in order to prevent drunken driving.


With reference to the Constitution of India, prohibitions or limitations or provisions contained in ordinary laws cannot act as prohibitions or limitations on the constitutional powers under Article 142. It could mean which one of the following?

(a) The decisions taken by the Election Commission of India while discharging its duties cannot be challenged in any court of law.

(b) The Supreme Court of India is not constrained in the exercise of its powers by the laws made by Parliament.

(c) In the event of grave financial crisis in the country, the President of India can declare Financial Emergency without the counsel from the Cabinet.

(d) State Legislatures cannot make laws on certain matters without the concurrence of Union Legislature.