Supreme Court Explains Scope Of 'Certiorari' Jurisdiction [Read Judgment]

Supreme Court Explains Scope Of

"The court may still exercise its discretion and decline jurisdiction unless there is manifest injustice"

In a judgment delivered on Thursday, the Supreme Court has explained the scope of Jurisdiction of High Courts to issue a writ of Certiorari.

The bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph was considering an appeal against the Orissa High Court judgment which had dismissed the Writ Application filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India challenging the Award passed by the Labour Court, Bhubaneswar.

In General Manager, Electrical Rengali Hydro Electric Project, Orissa vs. Sri Giridhari Sahu, the bench made the following important observations:

  • The jurisdiction to issue writ of certiorari is supervisory and not appellate. The Court considering a writ application of Certiorari will not don the cap of an Appellate Court. It will not reappreciate evidence. The Writ of Certiorari is intended to correct jurisdictional excesses. A writ of prohibition would issue when a Tribunal or authority has not yet concluded its proceedings.
  • Once a decision is rendered by a body amenable to Certiorari jurisdiction, certiorari could be issued when a jurisdictional error is clearly established. The jurisdictional error may be from failure to observe the limits of its jurisdiction. It may arise from the procedure adopted by the body after validly assuming jurisdiction. It may act in violation of principles of natural justice.
  • The body whose decision which comes under attack may decide a collateral fact which is also a jurisdictional fact and assume jurisdiction. Such a finding of fact is not immune from being interfered with by a Writ of Certiorari. As far as the finding of fact which is one within the jurisdiction of the court, it is ordinarily a matter 'off bounds' for the writ court. This is for the reason that a body which has jurisdiction to decide the matter has the jurisdiction to decide it correctly or wrongly. It would become a mere error and that too an error of fact. However, gross it may amount to, it does not amount to an error of law.
  • An error of law which becomes vulnerable to judicial scrutiny by way of Certiorari must also one which is apparent on the face of the record. As held by this Court in Hari Vishnu Kamath (supra), as to what constitutes an error apparent on the face of the record, is a matter to be decided by the court on the facts of each case.
  • A finding of fact which is not supported by any evidence would be perverse and in fact would constitute an error of law enabling the writ court to interfere. It is also to be noticed that if the overwhelming weight of the evidence does not support the finding, it would render the decision amendable to certiorari jurisdiction. This would be the same as a finding which is wholly unwarranted by the evidence which is what this Court has laid down [See M/s. Perry and Co. Ltd (supra)].
  • In the case of Writ of Certiorari, no doubt, the Court also bears in mind that it is not axiomatic, or that upon a finding of illegality, a court is bound to interfere. The court may still exercise its discretion and decline jurisdiction unless there is manifest injustice.


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