“Can’t Repeat Old, Overruled Arguments In Review Plea”: Supreme Court

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New Delhi:

A litigant cannot be permitted to repeat “old and overruled arguments” for reopening the conclusions arrived at in an earlier judgement under the garb of filing a review petition, the Supreme Court said on Thursday while deciding a 55-year-old land dispute case.

The top court dealt in detail with the law related to seeking review of a judgement in a civil dispute under the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) and said it has been consistently held “that the Court’s jurisdiction of review is not the same as that of an appeal.”

“A judgement can be open to review if there is a mistake or an error apparent on the face of the record, but an error that has to be detected by a process of reasoning, cannot be described as an error apparent on the face of the record for the Court to exercise its powers of review under Order XLVII Rule 1 CPC,” a bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli said.

In the guise of exercising powers of review, the court can correct a mistake but not substitute the view taken earlier merely because there is a possibility of taking two views in a matter, it said.

”Under the garb of filing a review petition, a party cannot be permitted to repeat old and overruled arguments for reopening the conclusions arrived at in a judgement. The power of review is not to be confused with the appellate power which enables the Superior Court to correct errors committed by a subordinate Court,” Justice Kohli, writing the 31-page judgement for the bench, said.

Observing that the recourse to successive review petitions against the same order is impermissible, the apex court set aside the April 29, 2022 order of the Telangana High Court passed on the second set of review petitions filed in the land dispute.

“Given the facts and circumstances, we are of the firm view that the second set of review petitions were nothing short of an abuse of the process of the court and ought to have been rejected by the High Court as not maintainable, without having gone into the merits of the matter,” it said and allowed the appeals.

The land dispute, which had a chequered history dating back to 1967, was going on between the heirs of land owners and the protected tenants with respect to separate parcels of land situated in different survey numbers of Kammadanam Village, Shadnagar Mandal in Mahabubnagar District.

In 1967, the Tahsildar of Shadnagar passed an order accepting the surrender of protected tenancy rights by the ancestors of the appellant.

After several rounds of litigations, the high court, in 2013, held that the protected tenancy rights were not surrendered. The view was affirmed by the high court while rejecting the first review plea as well.

Later, the second set of review petitions was filed in the high court with the nod of the apex court on the ground that some other documents have been found to support the case. However, only certified copies of earlier relied-upon documents were filed in the fresh second review plea.

Giving relief to the alleged legal heirs of the landlords, the high court allowed the second review petition and accepted the surrender of protected tenancy rights by the ancestors of the appellant have been confirmed.

Setting aside the high court’s order on the second review plea, the verdict said, ”A judgement may also be open to review when any new or important matter of evidence has emerged after passing of the judgement, subject to the condition that such evidence was not within the knowledge of the party seeking review or could not be produced by it when the order was made despite undertaking an exercise of due diligence.”

There is a clear distinction between an erroneous decision as against an error apparent on the face of the record and an erroneous decision can be corrected by the Superior Court, however an error apparent on the face of the record can only be corrected by exercising review jurisdiction, it said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by LOKJANTA STAFF staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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