In India, a binding decision of the Supreme Court or High Court can be reviewed through a Review Petition. Article 137 of the Indian Constitution provides that subject to provisions of any rule and law made under Article 145 the Supreme Court of India has the power to review any judgement pronounced/ordered by it. This special power is the power exercisable in accordance with and subject to any parliamentary legislation and rules made by the court itself under its rulemaking power. It is noticeable that the Supreme Court is really vigilant on when to use this exclusive power to review. It is not approved for an erroneous decision to be ‘reheard and corrected’. There is a pure distinction between an erroneous decision and an error apparent on the face of the record. While the first can be rectified by the higher forum, the latter can only be rectified by the exercise of the review jurisdiction. A review petition has a limited purpose.
The parties aggrieved on any order of the Supreme Court on any error apparent can file a review petition. An application for review shall be by a petition, which shall be filed within the thirty days from the date of the judgment or order sought. Review Petition is dealt with Order 47 and Section 114 of the CPC. Any party aggrieved by a judgement or an order may apply for reviewing the said judgement or order to the same court. It can be filed when there is no option or no provision to file an appeal. Review Petition is the discretionary right of the court. The grounds for review are limited. A review petition is filed in the same court. According to the Court Rules, a review petition must be filed within 30 days from the date of the order or judgment sought to be reviewed under Order XL, Rule 2.
In criminal cases under the Supreme Court Rules, 1966, Order XL, Rule 1 says, no review lies except on ground of error apparent on the face of the record. Criminal cases are somewhat more important in a way because an accused is convicted of punishment or death sentence. Here Court deals with the lives of humans so indeed they have to be more vigilant while declaring a judgment. Thus, the Supreme Court has to become even more vigilant when it comes to the reviewing of a case. The mistake actually has to be apparent on the face of the record.
Procedure in the Court
- Review petitions are ordinarily done without oral arguments by lawyers. Thus, it is heard “through passage” by the judges in their chambers.
- In some exceptional cases, the court allows an oral hearing.
- Review petitions are also heard by the same group of judges who delivered the original judgment or order that is sought to be reviewed.
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. Judges are humans and humans can make errors. It can’t be assured that nothing could go wrong in the process of anything. Error once done must be given a chance for fixing as well. This is the ordinary human psyche. So why not the judgements, when justice is on stake? In day to day life, people make mistakes and amend mistakes, things get to change.
Therefore the Supreme Court of India, which is paramount of justice, has also been conferred with a special power. This power is very exclusive. The constitution framers must be applauded for such a provision. On 6th June 1949, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar stimulated this new Article as an amendment. Dr. Ambedkar with others predicted such a thing could take place anytime in the future. Their prediction was right. Now, the Supreme Court has seen such situations when it had to review its own decisions.
In India, there are hierarchies of benches, where the superior court has the power to overrule the judgements and orders of the inferior court. When a lower bench gives out a judgment then the aggrieved party has an option to file an appeal to the superior court. In this process, the superior courts get many chances to go through the evidences and in case the lower court has missed out on any evidence or a point of law, the superior court can rectify. There is no superior Court after the Supreme Court. So what happens after that?
The supreme courts get the power to review. But it has to be renowned that review is not substituting a judgment. A judgment declared cannot be unsettled. This is a fundamental principle. It is only re-examining when the Supreme Court senses that something of grave nature has gone wrong in the judgment. Judgments should not be taken as casually when they are declared. It has to be agreed that power to review is only exercised in rarest of rare cases. We cannot take our judiciary so casually. Humans can make mistakes it’s true but we are not supposed to keep only that in our views. We have to believe that they are right. In fact, we have to see that they are always right. So if in case anything goes wrong it could possibly only be something of a patent wrong. And in case there is such a grave wrong we know the provision in our Constitution that has to be referred.
 “Application for review of judgment-
Any person considering himself aggrieved-
By an order or decree from which an appeal is allowed, but from which, no appeal has been preferred
By a decree or order from which no appeal is allowed, or
By a decision on a reference from a Court of Small Causes.
This Article Written by Nistari Sinha, Student of Amity Law School, Amity University Chattisgarh.
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