26 July 2023 3:50 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that an aggrieved party can approach the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution for grant of special leave to appeal against an order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) only if it is passed by the Commission in its original jurisdiction. No further appeal will lie against the orders passed by the NCDRC in exercise of...
The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that an aggrieved party can approach the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution for grant of special leave to appeal against an order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) only if it is passed by the Commission in its original jurisdiction. No further appeal will lie against the orders passed by the NCDRC in exercise of its appellate or revisional jurisdiction, the Apex Court clarified.
A division bench of Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra in the said case, examined the scope of Article 136 of the Constitution by referring to a catena of Apex Court decisions, to hold that it must only be exercised to consider a question of law of public importance or against a decision that shocks the conscience of the court.
“..the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to grant special leave to appeal can be invoked in very exceptional circumstances. The question of law of general public importance or a decision which shocks the conscience of the Court are some of the prime requisites for the grant of special leave. The provisions of Article 136 of the Constitution as such are not circumscribed by any limitation. But when the party aggrieved has alternative remedy to go before the High Court, invoking its writ jurisdiction or supervisory jurisdiction as the case may be, this Court should not entertain petition seeking special leave thereby short-circuit the legal procedure prescribed. The limitation, whatever, they be are implicit in the nature and character of the power itself. It being an exceptional and overriding power, naturally it has to be exercised sparingly and with caution and only in very exceptional situations. The power will only be used to advance the cause of justice and its exercise will be governed by well-established principles which govern the exercise of overriding constitutional powers.”
The Court was considering an SLP filed against an order of dismissal by the NCDRC against the appeal of an order of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC).
The Court considered the question of whether an SLP should be entertained directly against the order passed by the NCDRC in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction when the aggrieved party has the remedy to approach the appropriate High Court under Art. 226 or Art. 277.
The Apex Court concluded that a reading of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 ( which are pari materia to the Consumer Protection Act, 2019) would show that the remedy of appeal to the Apex Court is available only for orders passed by the NCDRC in exercise of its powers conferred by Section 21(a)(i) of the Act 1986 and 58(1)(a)(i) or 58(1)(a)(ii) of the Act 2019.
“..both the Acts provide for the remedy of appeal to this Court only with respect to the orders which are passed by the NCDRC in its original jurisdiction or as the court of first instance (original orders) and no further appeal lies against the orders which are passed by the NCDRC in exercise of its appellate or revisional jurisdiction.” The Apex Court observed.
The factual matrix of the case is that the Respondent had taken insurance policies covering upto Rs. 50 lakh for the risk of fire and burglary from Allahabad Bank and Universal Sompo General Insurance, the Petitioner in the matter before the Apex Court.
After the Respondent suffered theft and a fire outbreak at his premises, he filed for a claim of Rs. 49 lakh. The Petitioner repudiated the claim, against which the Respondent approached the SCDRC. The SCDRC partially allowed the complaint. The Petitioner aggrieved by the order of the SCDRC challenged the same before the NCDRC, which was dismissed. Against the said dismissal, the Petitioner approached the Apex Court under Art. 136 of the Constitution.
The Apex Court relied on the recent decision in Faizan v. Omaxe Buildhome Private Limited reported in 2022 INSC 573, where the Apex Court held that the remedy available to the aggrieved party against the order passed by the NCDRC in an appeal under Section 58(1)(a) (iii) or Section 58(1)(a)(iv) would be to approach the concerned High Court having jurisdiction under Article 227.The said decision explained the importance of approaching the High Court, when a remedy is available under Art. 226 or Art. 227 of the Constitution.
The Apex Court hence dismissed the petition without considering its merits. Liberty was granted to the petitioner to challenge the order of the NCDRC by approaching the appropriate High Court with jurisdiction:
“we have reached to the conclusion that we should not adjudicate this petition on merits. We must ask the petitioner herein to first go before the jurisdictional High Court either by way of a writ application under Article 226 of the Constitution or by invoking the supervisory jurisdiction of the jurisdictional High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution. Of course, after the High Court adjudicates and passes a final order, it is always open for either of the parties to thereafter come before this Court by filing special leave petition, seeking leave to appeal under Article 136 of the Constitution.” The Top Court concluded.
Case Title: M/S Universal Sompo General Insurance Co. Ltd. V. Suresh Chand Jain, Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 5263 Of 2023
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 567; 2023 INSC 649
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