IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Civil Appellate Jurisdiction Petitioner
Medical Council of India
Christian Medical College, Vellore
Date of Judgement
12th April, 2016
Justice Anil R. Dave; Justice A.K. Sikri; Justice R.K. Agrawal; Justice A.K. Goel; Justice R. Banumathi.
In India, a binding decision of the Supreme Court / High Court can be reviewed in the Petition for Review. The parties affected by any order of the Supreme Court for any apparent error may file a petition for review. Article 137 read with Article 145 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court of India has the power to review any judgment pronounced by it.[i] According to the Rules of the Supreme Court, 1966 said petition must be filed within 30 days from the date of the sentence or order.[ii] It is advised that the petition should be without oral arguments and to the same bench of judges that issued the ruling to be reviewed.
In addition, even after the rejection of a petition for review, the SC may consider a curative petition to prevent abuse of its process and cure a serious judicial error.[iii] As aforesaid, the present case analysis deals with the concept of review petition.
The Supreme Court in M/s. Northern Indian Caterers (India) Ltd. v. Lt. Governor of Delhi[iv] said that it is well established that a party has no right to request a review of a judgment issued by this Court simply for the purpose of trial and a new decision of the case. It is only a kind of reconsideration of a case when the Supreme Court believes that there has been some error or judicial error. It is only an acceptance of the reality of the apparent human philosophy that is inherent in fallibility. Justice is the highest priority and, therefore, the review can only be done by the good of justice until, unless there is something really obvious that has been omitted or omitted in the sentence, there can be no review, since in accordance with the normal rule, the decision of the Supreme Court is definitive.
There could also be an error of fact or an error of law. For example, in Hindustan sugar Mills v. State of Rajasthan[v], when the Court found a very important missing fact after the ruling was declared, the Court confirmed the petitioner’s petition for review and made changes to the ruling.
The power to review must be conferred by law, either specifically or by necessary implication.[vi] If the error indicated in the petition for review was an error and its perpetration will result in a judicial error, nothing would prevent the Court from rectifying the error.[vii] Review of a ruling is a serious matter. The power of review is used in exceptional cases. The review is inadmissible without an obvious omission, an obvious error or a similar ominous error.
A request for review has a limited purpose. An error in the face of the record must be as it can be seen by someone who runs and reads, that is, an obvious and patent error and not something that can be established by a long process of reasoning on points where there may possibly be two opinions. The Supreme Court in GL Gupta v. DH Mehta[viii], reviewed its ruling in a criminal appeal involving the violation of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act of 1947, in which it was pointed out that Section 23-C (2) of the Law was not brought to the Court’s attention, and modified the prison sentence to fine.
Requests for review were filed against the judgment of the present Court approved at Christian Medical College Vellore and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors.[ix] Requests for review were filed with a bench of three judges and notices were issued and, subsequently, the Bench was notified that a civil appeal and related matters involving an identical problem had been referred to a Bench of five judges. Consequently, these review requests were ordered to be heard by a bench of five judges. The civil appeal and related matters had been heard and order had been reserved.
- Whether judgment delivered in Christian Medical College Vellore and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors.[x] needs reconsideration?
- If the Review Bench of the present Court had to give reasons, the Review Bench would have to discuss the case completely and in detail and state what according to this constitutes an error in the reasoning of the Original Bench and this would inevitably result in the trial of the case and prejudice its re-hearing.
- Any decision of the facts and circumstances that constitutes apparent errors in the record and reasons for the findings that these facts and circumstances constitute apparent errors in the record that result in the success of the review petition may have the possibility of damaging the appeal that, as a result of the decision, must be heard again.[xi]
Findings of the court:
- The majority opinion did not take into account some binding precedents. Before the Judgment was pronounced there was no discussion among the members of the Bench. Therefore, these requests for review were allowed and recalled the judgment of July 18, 2013 and ordered that matters be heard again.
- Relevant observations appeared in the Constitution Bench judgment of present Court in Sheonandan Paswan v. State of Bihar and Ors[xii]. The Court was of the view that the judgment delivered in Christian Medical College needs reconsideration. The Court did not propose to state reasons in detail at this stage so as to see that it may not prejudicially affect the hearing of the matters. For this purpose the Court relied on observations appearing in the Constitution Bench judgment of this Court in Sheonandan Paswan[xiii]
Relevancy and Applicability:
There is a saying, Justice cannot just be seen, and it must be felt, in the hearts of the people and in the soul of the country. Justice is above all indeed. Our judiciaries are not mechanized robots and computers when you know for sure that nothing could go wrong in the process. Judges are human and humans are bound to make mistakes. The mistake, once made, has to have the opportunity to solve it too. Therefore, the Supreme Court, which is the most important part of justice, has also received a special power. This power is exclusive. The framers of the Constitution should be applauded for such provision.
In Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. The State of Maharashtra[xiv], a two Judge Bench of Justice A K Goel & U U Lalit decided to do away with the bar on grant of anticipatory bails in cases of atrocities under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 and further laid down guidelines for the purpose of making arrests under the Act. In view of the resultant public outcry, the Centre approached the Supreme Court seeking review of its decision in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan[xv]. The petition for review was heard and admitted by the Court and is currently pending, although the provisional request for suspension of the guidelines issued in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan has been rejected.
In our country, there are hierarchies of benches, where superior court overrules the orders and decisions of the inferior court. Thus, a case is transferred from a trial court to the High Court and then to the Supreme Court. In this process, the higher courts have many possibilities to review the evidence and, in the event that a lower court has lost some evidence or point of law, the higher court will ensure that it is rectified.
But after the case reaches the Supreme Court, there is nothing else that is superior to the Supreme Court. Therefore, we can see that it would have been really unnecessary if all the courts had the power to review. That is due to the same reasons. There is no other body in which the case can be appealed after the Supreme Court, so it is better that only the Supreme Court has that power. But it should be noted that the review is not replacing a trial.[xvi] A sentence cannot be resolved when it is declared. This is a fundamental principle.
It is only reconsidering when the Supreme Court feels that something serious has gone wrong in the sentence. Trials cannot be taken lightly when declared. It should be understood that the power of review is exercised only in exceptional cases.[xvii] We cannot casually take our judiciary. It is true that humans can make mistakes, but we are not supposed to have just that in our minds. One has to believe that they are always right. In fact, one has to know that they are always right. Therefore, if something ever goes wrong, obviously it could only be something really obvious. And in case there is such a serious error, one should know that we have a provision in our Constitution that must be referred.
Edited by Parul Soni
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i] Yashwant Sinha and Ors. V. Central Bureau of Investigation Through its Director and Anr., MANU/SCOR/12980/2019.
[iii] Rupa Ashok Hurra v. Ashok Hurra And Another, 2002 AIR SC 1771.
[iv] M/s. Northern Indian Caterers (India) Ltd. V. Lt. Governor of Delhi, 1978 AIR SC 1591.
[v] Hindustan sugar Mills v. State of Rajasthan, 1978 SCC 4 271.
[vi] Major Chandra Bhan Singh v. Latafat Ullah Khan And Others, 1978 AIR SC 1814.
[vii] The Special Officer v. P.Ravichandran , MANU/TN/0470/2016.
[viii] Girdhari Lal Gupta And Anr. v. D.N. Mehta, Assistant Collector, AIR 1971 SC 28.
[ix] Christian Medical College Vellore and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors, 2014 SCC 2 305.
[xi] Sheonandan Paswan v. State of Bihar and Ors, AIR 1987 SC 877.
[xii] Supra note 10.
[xiv] Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. The State of Maharashtra, AIR 2018 SC 1498.
[xv] Supra note 13.
[xvi] Pilot Chopra v. Bombay State, AIR 1955 SC 633.
[xvii] Kamlesh Verma v. Mayawati And Others, 2013 SCALE 10 113.