The Delhi High Court on Wednesday held that a review petition can be allowed only on the grounds stipulated in Order XLVII, read with Section 114 of CPC and not on grounds which the petitioner chose not to press during arguments.
The single-Judge bench of Justice C. Hari Shankar torn into the "startling" averments contained in the Review Petition, wherein the briefing counsel had tried to attribute "fault" to the Senior Counsel who had argued the original case. The court also imposed costs of Rs. 25,000 on the Petitioner.
The Petitioner had sought review of the order passed in a writ petition by Justice Shankar himself, while arguing that the Senior Counsel on his own basis made statement for confining the matter to the issue of appropriate government only, instead of arguing the case on all aspects.
It was submitted that the Senior Counsel did not have instructions of the petitioner or of the briefing advocate to confine arguments and hence the Petitioner should not be made to suffer on account of fault of a counsel.
Justice Shankar observed that it was in extremely "poor taste" for the Petitioner to blame a respected Senior Counsel, especially when the entire proceedings took place in the presence of the briefing counsel. He said,
"This Court expresses, with no equivocation whatsoever, its displeasure at the averments contained in the afore-extracted paragraphs of the Review Petition. In the opinion of this court, these averments border on impropriety, and amount to taking the Court for granted. They question not only the merit, but also the legitimacy of the arguments advanced by the Senior Counsel, whom the petitioner had engaged. On the face of it, these averments are untrue and do not merit even the slightest consideration, inter alia for the reason that the instructing counsel Mr. Inder Jit Singh was present in Court, and was instructing the learned Senior Counsel on 27th October, 2017, when the matter was heard."
The court then pointedly asked the briefing counsel as to how he could be a signatory to an application averring that the Senior Counsel, instructed by him, had not argued all points that he desired should be argued.
To this, the court received an "astonishing and unsettling" response that the briefing counsel is hardly in a position to prompt the Senior Counsel, who argues as he deems appropriate.
The court then evaluated if the review petition merited consideration. To this end, the court observed that the Petitioner had not sought to contend that the impugned judgment suffered from any error apparent on the face of record, vis-à-vis the grounds that were pressed during hearing. Rather, the prayer for review was premised on grounds which the Petitioner had chosen not to press.
Thus, dismissing the review petition the court said,
"The law does not permit this. Consent of counsel cannot, empower a court to act in derogation of the law. The right to review is not absolute or inherent, and has to be conferred by statute. Where it is so conferred, it has to be exercised within the prescribed statutory circumspection."
The court explained that the only circumstance in which a judgment can be reviewed, are set out in Order XLVII, read with Section 114 of CPC. These are (i) mistake or error apparent on the face of the record, (ii) discovery of new and important matter or evidence, which, after the exercise of due diligence was not within the knowledge of the person seeking review or could not be produced by him at any time when the decree was passed or order made, or (iii) any other sufficient reason.
It is also trite law, the court said, that the expression "any other sufficient reasons", has to be interpreted ejusdem generis to the expressions that precede it. Reliance was placed on Meera Bhanja v. Niramala Kumari Choudhury, (1995) 1 SCC 170.
Thus it was held that the grounds on which the review petition was based did not conform to any of the requisite criteria.
Case Details:Case Title: Stg. Conference Of Public Enterprise v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi & OrsCase No.: Review Petition 125/2018Quorum: Justice C. Hari Shankar
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