INTRODUCTION Law has its origin basically from four sources, i.e., Customs, Precedent, Legislation and Conventional Law. The Precedents established by the Supreme Court are the main sources of declared law. The Doctrine of Precedent refers to the concept that an earlier event or action which is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances. Precedent means a judgment or decision of a superior court of law cited as an authority for deciding a related set of facts. A precedent which makes and applies a new rule is called an original precedent and when the precedent does not create a new rule that just apply on existing rule of law then it is entitled as Declaratory precedent. According to Salmond, the phrase ‘the doctrine of precedent’ has different meanings. A very loose and unclear interpretation of this doctrine includes, precedents are reported, cited and will probably be followed by courts. On the other hand in its price and rather a more legal sense, in certain circumstances, precedents have a great binding authority over courts thus making them bound by earlier decided cases.
In the ancient society, there were fewer disputes and there were very less occasions to go to courts. Local courts like puga, kula, shreni were there at that time. They decided the cases falling under their jurisdictions. There was little chance of growth of doctrine of precedent due to lack of sufficient sources to keep the record. In the medieval times also there was fewer scope of precedents. In the absence of an efficient judicial system, no doctrine of precedent developed in India as it developed in England. In the British rule, the present theory of precedent started expanding. The Government of India Act, 1935, precisely mentioned that the decision of Federal Courts and Privy Council will be binding on all the other courts decision in British India. Hence, from 18th century till date precedent is a characteristic element of our legal system.
ARTICLE 141 OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION
According to Article 141 of the Indian Constitution, "The law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India." This article specifically authorizes the Supreme Court to have this binding authority over other courts. The theoretical basis for the legislature to grant such binding authority and the status of law(constitutional status) to Supreme Court’s decision on a question of law is to add a sense of certainty, stability and predictability to the legal system of India.
In the case of B. Shama Rao v. Union Territory of Pondicherry, it was held that a decision is binding not because of its conclusion but in regard to its rationale and the principle laid down therein.
In Cassel Co. Ltd. V. Broome, it was stated that in the hierarchical system of courts, it is necessary for each lower-tier to accept loyally the decision of the higher tiers. It is inescapable in the hierarchical system of Courts that the decisions of the Supreme Appellate Tribunal do not attract the unanimous approval of the judiciary. But the system only works if someone is permitted to have the last word, which once spoken, is loyally accepted.
SUPREME COURT ON DOCTRINE OF PRECEDENT
In the case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum, it was stated that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of religious texts is a binding precedent. The Supreme Court held after finding out what were the prominent rights of Muslim divorced women which were not there properly in the original texts or any other material.
In Paramjit Kaur v. The State of Punjab, the Supreme Court went a step forward in order enlarge the powers laid down under Article 141 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court issued direction to the National Human Rights Commission in order to enquire about the extrajudicial killings in Punjab. It was held that by its orders and directions, The Supreme Court can confer jurisdiction on a particular body beyond the extent of the Jurisdiction.
In the case of State of Uttar Pradesh and another versus Synthetics and Chemicals Ltd. and another  it was held that a decision which is not expressed and is not founded on reasons, nor it proceeded on consideration of issue, cannot be considered to be a law declared to have binding effect as is contemplated by Article 141.
ADVANTAGES OF JUDICIAL PRECEDENT
Predictability and consistency
The objective of any justice system should be to create a level of legal fairness throughout society. Giving value to the concept of judicial precedent, gives a guaranteed that every case will be treated and decided in a manner that is similar to pass decisions. Because of the presence of judicial precedent in worldwide legal systems, lawyers are able to advise their clients with some certainty as to the position that they should take in their situation, and whether it is useful to take such a problem to the court system.
Helps the court to save time
When the court has already provided an answer for a similar situation, then the past rulings can become the foundation of the current decision that is needed for case resolution. That means the court can spend less time in deliberation because they already have access to the decision-making processes of others. This process makes it possible to come to a new outcome that is fast and fair for all parties involved.
Judges who follow judicial precedents can use the guidance of their peers in the past to create a verdict that can help all parties find a way to move forward through justice. That makes the outcome feel more powerful that it would be if a ruling seems to come out of left field.
DISADVANTAGES OF JUDICIAL PRECEDENT
Because our court system is not bound by any previous decisions in a current case (unless it is a lower court ruling on what a higher court decided already), the consequences of any given situation will remain uncertain until the final ruling or appeal judgment is made. There are some judges who are more than willing to withdraw from a precedent because they wish to do what is right for the individuals involved in the case they are hearing. Then there are others who treat judicial precedent as it is it is part of the laws passed by the legislature, unwilling to withdraw from it to make changes in the law.
Judicial Precedents create rigidity
The rules which are created from judicial precedents can remain in place for a notable amount of time. It is not uncommon for these written or unwritten rules to apply even when they are outdated. Many judges will not make any changes to the perspective of the law until a case comes through which needs such an action. Some changes need a case to come to a higher appeals court before new rules can come about because of this system.
Adds multiple layers of complexity
There are so many case laws that it creates complexity. Every judge issues his own perspective on matter to make more precedents. Judgments are exceptionally long, and it becomes burdensome for the lawyers and judges working on the similar matter to determine that what is applicable or not. It becomes monotonous task to find out relevant case law on particular matter.
CONCLUSIONWhile statutes and enactments of the legislature lay down the general rules to be applied in giving a verdict, the final authority for interpretation of those rules are the courts. The doctrine of precedents makes the decisions of courts, usually binding on the subordinate courts in cases in which identical or related question of law raised before the court. The great merit of the doctrine of precedents is that it provides certainty. On the other hand major disadvantage is that precedents are considered to be binding in nature; it may be obstruct the development of law which is necessary with changes in society. The court has to keep the balance between the requirement of certainty and continuity and the desirability of growth and development of law.