Review of a Judgment; Ambit & Scope with 16 Supreme Court Decisions

The power of review may be exercised on the discovery of new and important matter or evidence which, after the exercise of due diligence was not within the knowledge of the person seeking the review or could not be produced by him at the time when the order was made; it may be exercised where some mistake or error apparent on the face of the record is found; it may also be exercised on any analogous ground.

But, it may not be exercised on the ground that the decision was erroneous on merits. That would be the province of a court of appeal. A power of review is not to be confused with appellate power which may enable an appellate court to correct all manner of errors committed by the subordinate court.

The power of review can be exercised for correction of a mistake but not to substitute a view. Such powers can be exercised within the limits of the statute dealing with the exercise of power. The review cannot be treated like an appeal in disguise. The mere possibility of two views on the subject is not a ground for review. Once a review petition is dismissed no further petition of review can be entertained.

The rule of law of following the practice of the binding nature of the larger Benches and not taking different views by the Benches of coordinated jurisdiction of equal strength has to be followed and practiced. However, Apex Court in exercise of its powers under Article 136 or Article 32 of the Constitution and upon satisfaction that the earlier judgments have resulted in deprivation of fundamental rights of a citizen or rights created under any other statute, can take a different view notwithstanding the earlier judgment.

Supreme Court Decisions on Review

1. Meera Bhanja v. Nirmala Kumari Choudhury, (1995) 1 SCC 170

It is well settled that the review proceedings are not by way of an appeal and have to be strictly confined to the scope and ambit of Order 47, Rule 1, CPC.

2. Aribam Tuleshwar Sharma v. Aribam Pishak Sharma, (1979) 4 SCC 389

Limitation of the powers of the court under Order 47, Rule 1, while dealing with similar jurisdiction available to the High Court while seeking to review the orders under Article 226 of the Constitution of India discussed.

3. Shivdeo Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1973 SC 1909

There is nothing in Article 226 of the Constitution to preclude the High Court from exercising the power of review which inheres in every Court of plenary jurisdiction to prevent miscarriage of justice or to correct grave and palpable errors committed by it. But, there are definitive limits to the exercise of the power of review.

4. Satyanarayan Laxminarayan Hegde v. Mallikarjun Bhavanappa Tirumale, AIR 1960 SC 137

Wherein, K.C. Das Gupta, J., speaking for the Court has made the following observations in connection with an error apparent on the face of the record: An error which has to be established by a long- drawn process of reasoning on points where there may conceivably be two opinions can hardly be said to be an error apparent on the face of the record. Where an alleged error is far from self-evident and if it can be established, it has to be established, by lengthy and complicated arguments, such an error cannot be cured by a writ of certiorari according to the rule governing the powers of the superior court to issue such a writ.

5. Parsion Devi v. Sumitri Devi, (1997) 8 SCC 715

Under Order 47 Rule 1 CPC a judgment may be open to review inter alia if there is a mistake or an error apparent on the face of the record. An error which is not self-evident and has to be detected by a process of reasoning, can hardly be said to be an error apparent on the face of the record justifying the court to exercise its power of review under Order 47 Rule 1 CPC. In exercise of the jurisdiction under Order 47 Rule 1 CPC it is not permissible for an erroneous decision to be “reheard and corrected”. A review petition, it must be remembered has a limited purpose and cannot be allowed to be “an appeal in disguise”.

6. Lily Thomas v. Union of India, (2000) 6 SCC 224

The dictionary meaning of the word “review” is “the act of looking, offer something again with a view to correction or improvement”. It cannot be denied that the review is the creation of a statute.

7. Patel Narshi Thakershi v. Pradyumansinghji Arjunsinghji, AIR 1970 SC 1273

The power of review is not an inherent power. It must be conferred by law either specifically or by necessary implication. The review is also not an appeal in disguise. It cannot be denied that justice is a virtue which transcends all barriers and the rules or procedures or technicalities of law cannot stand in the way of administration of justice. Law has to bend before justice. If the Court finds that the error pointed out in the review petition was under a mistake and the earlier judgment would not have been passed but for erroneous assumption which in fact did not exist and its perpetration shall result in a miscarriage of justice nothing would preclude the Court from rectifying the error.

8. S. Nagaraj v. State of Karnataka, 1993 Supp (4) SCC 595

Review literally and even judicially means re-examination or reconsideration. Basic philosophy inherent in it is the universal acceptance of human fallibility. Yet in the realm of law the courts and even the statutes lean strongly in favour of finality of decision legally and properly made. Exceptions both statutorily and judicially have been carved out to correct accidental mistakes or miscarriage of justice. Even when there was no statutory provision and no rules were framed by the highest court indicating the circumstances in which it could rectify its order the courts culled out such power to avoid abuse of process or miscarriage of justice.

9. Raja Prithwi Chand Lal Choudhury v. Sukhraj Rai, AIR 1941 SC 1

Even though no rules had been framed permitting the highest court to review its order yet it was available on the limited and narrow ground developed by the Privy Council and the House of Lords.