In re meaning and Article 143

In re

Editor’s Note

There are a bunch of law students out there who do not know why we use the words “In re”.

They would tell you that it means “in the matter of” or “in reference”. But they will be speechless if you ask them – why don’t you write “In re” before the name of every case then?

If you’d google the word “in re meaning”, you’ll be amazed to find that not many search results will answer the question.

Find the answer to the above question in this blog.

Table of Contents

  1. Literal in re meaning and Article 143 of the Constitution of India
  2. Only constitutional benches to prepare such reports
  3. Total number of in re cases

Literal in re meaning and Article 143 of the Constitution of India

“In re” is a Latin phrase meaning ‘in the matter of’ or ‘in reference’.

“In re” appears in the title of the cases where the Supreme Court exercises its advisory Jurisdiction under Article 143(1) of the Indian Constitution.

The President of India has the power to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court on any question of law or fact of public importance. The matter referred by the President is then taken into account by the Supreme Court and a report is sent back as it deems fit. This report which is sent back to the President is titled “In re”, for e.g. In re Berubari Case.

Only constitutional benches to prepare such reports

A Constitutional bench is formulated by the Chief Justice of India with four other senior judges to sit and decide on the substantial question of law relating to the interpretation of the Constitution. Article 145(3) states that –

“The minimum number of Judges who are to sit for the purpose of deciding any case involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution or for the purpose of hearing any reference under Article 143 shall be five.”

Therefore, a Constitutional Bench of Supreme Court has 5 judges including the Chief Justice of India.

Note: A Constitutional Bench of a High Court also constitutes 5 judges including the Chief Justice of that High Court

By exercising the Advisory Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the Bench upon reference advises the President on the query raised by him. The opinion may not be binding on the President but it holds high persuasive value and is binding for the all the courts lower to the Supreme Court. It is held that the references made by the Supreme Court under Article 141 are “law declared by the Supreme Court”.

Total number of in re cases

In total 13 references have been made to the Supreme court. The first one was: “In re” The Delhi Law act (1951). The below is a year-wise list of all the references made by the Supreme Court.

  1. In re the Delhi Law Act, AIR 1951 SC 332
  2. In re the Kerala Education Bill, AIR 1958 SC 956
  3. In re New India Motors Ltd. v. Morris, AIR 1960 SC 875
  4. In re Berubari (Indo-Pakistan Agreements), AIR 1960 SC 845
  5. In re the Sea Customs Act, AIR 1963 SC 1760
  6. In re Keshav Singh’s Case, AIR 1965 SC 745
  7. In re Presidential Poll, AIR 1974 SC 1682
  8. In re Special Courts Bill, AIR 1979 SC 478
  9. In Re in the matter of Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal, AIR 1992 SC 522
  10. In Re in the matter of Ram Janamabhoomi, (1993) 1 SCC 642
  11. In Re on Principles and Procedure regarding appointment of Supreme Court and High Court Judges, AIR 1999 SC 1
  12. In Re Gujarat Assembly Election Matter, AIR 2003 SC 87
  13. In Re Assessment of The Criminal Justice System in Response to Sexual Offences, SMW (CRL.) No.(s). 04 of 2019

Edited by Siddhant Pandey

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Comments (6)

You are really picking up great topics to write on, keep going on 👍👍👍

Finally I understood the meaning of “In re”. Thanks

Thanks, Naveen. 🙂 We rely heavily on feedback. Do check out our other posts.

In re: Arundhati Roy, AIR 2002 SC 1375; RULE OF LAW

very useful! Thanks!

How a suo moto case is cited by supreme court? Is it in the same way as “In Re”?
Example: “In Re: De­lay in release of convicts after grant of bail”

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