What is a Review Petition?
When a judgment is passed by a Court, the doctrine of functus officio applies to it. This Latin doctrine means that if the judgment in a case has been pronounced or an order has been made following due process of law, in such circumstances, the case cannot be reopened. The right to file a review petition is an exception to this doctrine. The word “review” means to examine again. A review petition is filed to re-examine the facts and evidence and pronounce a new judgment.
Section 114 of the Code of Civil Procedure gives a substantive right of review and Order XLVII provides the procedure for filing a review petition. Section 114 states that any aggrieved person may apply for a review of a judgment or order made by the Court, if:
- The appeal is allowed but has not been preferred by the petitioner, or
- The appeal is not allowed by the Court, or
- Aggrieved by a decision on a reference from a Court of Small Causes.
Under Article 137 of the Constitution, subject to the provisions of any law and rules made under Article 145, the Supreme Court has the power to review any judgment pronounced or order made by it. This power is given to the Supreme Court to correct a “patent mistake” or “grave error” resulting in miscarriage of justice and not to fix minor mistakes of inconsequential results. According to Supreme Court Rules of 1966, a review petition is to be filed within 30 days of the pronouncement of judgment or order, in certain circumstances, this duration can be extended if the petitioner can prove the delay with justifiable reasons. The review petition should be circulated, without oral arguments, to the same bench that delivered the judgment.
Similarly, High Courts have also been given the power of reviewing its judgment under Article 226 of the Constitution. However, it can only be invoked when there is a breach of law or violation of the Constitution. Supreme Court in the case of Shivdeo Singh v. the State of Punjab held that “there is nothing in Article 226 of the Constitution to preclude a High Court from exercising the power of review which inheres in every Court of plenary jurisdiction to prevent the miscarriage of justice or to correct grave and palpable errors committed by it.”
Grounds for Review:
The Supreme Court has laid down three grounds for seeking a review of a verdict it has delivered:
- Discovery of new and important matter or evidence-
The first ground for a review petition is the discovery of new and important matter or evidence, as provided under Order XLVII Rule 4 of CPC, which was not within the knowledge of the petitioner at that time when the decree was passed or could not be produced by him even after the exercise of due diligence. The petitioner needs to show that there was no negligence on his part. This new and important matter or evidence should fulfil two conditions:
- It should be relevant, and
- It should be of such character that if it were produced earlier, it would have altered the judgment or order.
In the case of Ramaswami Padayachi v. Shanmuga Padayachi, it was held by the Madras High Court that the person who wants a review should “at least prove strictly the diligence he claims to have exercised” and a review petition should not be filed to supplement or introduce the evidence which might have had some effect upon the result.
- Mistake or error apparent on the face of the record-
The second ground is given under Order XLVII Rule 1 of CPC, i.e., mistake or error made by the court which is apparent on the face of the record. “Apparent on the face of the record” means which is visible and obvious and not bound to reasoning and analysis. This mistake or error can be of fact and law. In Usha Rani v. Hardas Das, Guwahati High Court stated that mistake or error apparent on the face of the record depends upon the facts and circumstances of that case.
- Any other sufficient reason-
The third ground of a review petition is any other sufficient reason, but it has to be analogous to the other two grounds, as held in Chhajju Ram V. Neki. This ground is provided under Order XLVII Rule 1 of CPC. Some of the sufficient reasons are:
- Violation of a fundamental right
- Violation of the principles of natural justice
- The mistake of the court
- Judgment was obtained by fraud
- The court made the earlier order without jurisdiction
Procedure for Review Petition:
- It should be filed within 30 days of the pronouncement of judgment or order.
- No oral arguments are presented by lawyers in review petitions. It is heard through circulation by the judges.
- However, review petitions in death penalty cases will be heard in open court by a bench of three judges as held by the Supreme Court in Mohd. Arif @ Ashfaq v. The Reg. Supreme Court of India & Others (2014).
- According to Order XLVII Rule 5 of CPC, review petitions shall be heard by the same judge or bench who delivered the original order or judgment that is sought to be reviewed.
- However, if a Judge or bench is not available who delivered the original order/ judgment due to various reasons, any other competent Court is authorized and empowered to deal with the review application and the application cannot be dismissed merely on the ground that the said Judge us no longer in position as held by the Delhi High Court in Rajiv Lochan vs. Narendra Nath.
Rejection of Review Application:
- Order XLVII Rule 6 of CPC lays down the conditions where a review petition shall be considered rejected:
- Where the application for a review is heard by more than one judge and the Court is equally divided, the application shall be rejected, i.e., if the bench is equally divided as to whether the review application shall be allowed or not, in such cases it shall be considered rejected.
- Where there is a majority, the decision shall be according to the opinion of the majority, i.e., if the majority believes that the application shall be not proceeded with then it shall be considered rejected.
According to Order XLVII Rule 7 of CPC, an order rejecting the review application is non-appealable; however, an order granting review can be appealed before an appellate court.
Relief on the dismissal of Review Petition- Curative Petition:
If the review petition has been dismissed by the Court, then the aggrieved person is provided with a relief of Curative Petition. The concept of the curative petition was evolved in the case of Rupa Ashok Hurra v. Ashok Hurra. The SC, in this case, held that to prevent abuse of process and to cure miscarriage of justice, it may reconsider its judgments, and the term “curative” was devised for this purpose. If a review petition has been dismissed then the aggrieved person can file a curative petition on the grounds of abuse of process and miscarriage of justice.
Reference and Revision:
Reference- Section 113 of CPC empowers subordinate courts to refer a question to the High Court and to seek its opinion on the same. A reference can only be made when there is reasonable doubt about a question of law or when the court thinks that the Act is ultra vires. The procedure of reference is laid down in Order XLVI Rule 1 of CPC, whereby certain conditions are needed to be fulfilled:
- There must be a pending suit or appeal in which the decree is non-appealable or a pending proceeding of execution of the decree.
- There must be a question of law. The question of law can be of two kinds:
- Regarding the validity of an Act, Ordinance, and Regulation, and
- Other questions.
Revision- Section 115 of CPC empowers the High Courts to entertain revision in any case decided by a court subordinate to it. Certain conditions are needed to be fulfilled:
- The case must have been decided by a subordinate court and it should be non-appealable.
- And the subordinate court has decided the case by-
- Exercising jurisdiction not vested in it, or
- Failing in exercising the jurisdiction vested in it, or
- Illegal exercise of vested powers.
The review petition is a relief provided to the aggrieved party against the judgment pronounced or order made by the Court. However, the grounds on which such a petition can be accepted are very limited and stringent. And even if the review petition fails, aggrieved parties can still resort to the curative petition as the last relief against any judgment pronounced. Even in recent times, there are many judgments against which review petitions were filed, Ayodhya Verdict, Sabrimala Temple Verdict, and Nirbhaya Verdict to name a few. Where Sabrimala Temple Verdict is yet to be reviewed before a 9-judges bench, SC dismissed all review petitions regarding Ayodhya Verdict and Nirbhaya Verdict citing “no error” found on the face of the main judgment.
Hence, it can be said that even though a review petition is a relief provided to the aggrieved party as a substantive as well as procedural right, this relief must be sought on strict and well-established grounds to prevent any kind of delay and surge of cases in the Courts.
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