Obiter Dictum

Literal Translation

An incidental remark or opinion by a judge that is not binding.


The legal maxim is of latin origin meaning “said in passing” or an “incidental statement”. The maxim roughly translates to “by the way” and it refers to a statement a person said in passing. While talking in legal terms this maxim refers to a persuasive statement only and it is an unnecessary passage in a judicial opinion. Such statements are not supported by the force of precedent but may be significant to the case.


The acknowledgment of the salary of the accused in the case of trespass was “obiter dictum” to the case.

Case Law

Mohandas Issardas v. A.N Sattanathan, (AIR 1955 Bom)

While answering a few questions about “whether an obiter dictum of the Supreme Court was as much binding upon the High Court as an express decision given by the Supreme Court”, the court observed that: Obiter dictum was an expression of opinion on a point, which was not necessary to the decision of the case.