It is quite well-settled that a non-speaking order of the Supreme Court in admitting or dismissing an SLP is not binding precedent – thus, a non-speaking dismissal of an SLP is not an affirmation of the High Court’s view on merits. Is the position different when a Civil Appeal (as opposed to an SLP) is dismissed in a non-speaking order? On principle, a difference may arguably exist – the Court may refuse to hear an SLP filed under Article 136 of the Constitution as a matter of its discretion. However, in deciding a civil appeal (as opposed to a special leave petition), the Court must decide in accordance with the law in force; i.e. on the merits of the case at hand. So the question – what is the value of a non-speaking order dismissing an appeal (as opposed to an SLP). Interestingly, there appears to be a difference among the High Courts on this point!
Consider the case of
CIT v. Kwality Biscuits. The decision of the High Court (Kwality Biscuits v. CIT) is reported in  243 ITR 519 (Kar). The decision of the Supreme Court is reported in  284 ITR 434 (SC). The reporter indicates that the decision of the Supreme Court is in a Civil Appeal – it is not simply a dismissal of an SLP. The order itself notes that the “appeals” are dismissed. Now, in Snowcem India v. DCIT,  313 ITR 170 (Bom), the Bombay High Court held that the nomenclature “Civil Appeal” per se means that leave to appeal was granted, and the fact that a civil appeal is dismissed must lead to the conclusion that the judgment of the lower Court has been upheld on merits. The Patna High Court has – after noticing the judgment – taken a contrary view in Bihar State Forest Development Corporation v. Bombay CIT, MANU/BH/0045/2010, judgment dated 18th January, 2010. Commenting on the decision in Kwality, it was stated that “The Supreme Court dismissed the Department's appeal by a brief, non-speaking order which is indicative of the position that the Supreme Court had declined to go into the merits of the matter and thought it fit to dismiss the appeal In Limine. We are mindful of the position that the order of the Supreme Court does state the nomenclature of Civil Appeal. We are of the view that the same does not in law change the legal position… the order of the Supreme Court that "The appeals are dismissed", does not by itself mean that the Supreme Court has upheld the judgment of the Karnataka High Court in Kwality Biscuits Ltd. (supra) on merits. We do say that the Supreme Court declined to interfere in the matter…”
With respect, the view of the Bombay High Court in Snowcem appears to be the more principled view. Justice Rebello summed up the position thus:
“4. If the Special Leave Petitions had only been dismissed then perhaps it would have been possible to say that there was no merger of the judgment of the Karnataka High Court and that the Supreme Court had refused to grant Special leave to appeal and consequently it was not an order of affirmation. See Kunhayammed v. State of
 245 ITR 360 (SC). However, the order passed by the Supreme Court is "The appeals are dismissed" being Civil Appeal Nos. 1284 and 1285 of 2001. Once the appeals are dismissed then it can be said that the judgment of the Karnataka High Court has been affirmed by the Supreme Court. That would not be the case in the event only Special Leave Petitions had been dismissed in which event it would be said that the Supreme Court chose not to interfere with the judgment of the Karnataka High Court. 5. In such an event the doctrine of merger would not apply. Once the judgment of the Karnataka High Court in Kwality Biscuits Ltd. (supra) has been affirmed by the Supreme Court by dismissing the appeals, in our opinion, the law binding on us would be the judgment in Kwality Biscuits Ltd. (supra).” Kerala