BREAKING| Should A Judgment Be Reviewed Because It Followed A Precedent Which Was Later Overruled? Supreme Court Bench Delivers Split Verdict
A Division Bench of the Supreme Court, on Friday, took a divergent view on the scope of review, when the judgment relied on in the impugned order and all subsequent judgment that followed it is eventually overruled by a superior court.
While Justice MR Shah allowed the review petitions, Justice BV Nagarathna opined that they are not maintainable and are in the teeth of the Explanation to Order XLVII Rule 1 Code of Civil Procedure (Application for review of judgment) which categorically states that a fact that the decision on a question of law on which the judgment of the Court is based has been reversed or modified by the subsequent decision of a superior Court in any other case, shall not be a ground for the review of such judgment.
Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, 2013, which is essentially a saving clause came to be interpreted in Pune Municipal Corporation v. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki. In Indore Development Authority v Shailendra the interpretation was referred to a Three-Judge Bench, which considered the issue and decided that Pune Municipal Corporation did not cover certain aspects of the interpretation of Section 24(2) and the matter was referred to a Larger Bench. In other similar matters reference was also made to a larger bench. In Indore Development Authority v. Manoharlal, a Constitution Bench overruled Pune Municipal Corporation and all other decisions where Pune Municipal Corporation was followed.
After the decision in Indore Development Authority, the present batch of petitions have been filed by land acquiring authorities/States seeking review of the Special Leave Petitions and Civil Appeals that were disposed of in terms of the judgment in Pune Municipal Corporation. The review petitioners have argued that Indore Development Authority explicitly overruled Pune Municipal Corporation and also all other subsequent judgments that had followed Pune Municipal Corporation. They seek recalling of the judgment and to restore the Civil Appeals and SLPs. The respondents objected to the maintainability of the review petitions. The argument put forth by the respondents is that when in Indore Development Authority, the Constitution Bench held that Pune Municipal Corporation and all the judgments where it was followed is overruled, they were denuded of their precedential authority, but the decisions in these cases are still binding on the parties involved. Relying on Explanation to Order XLVII Rule 1 Code of Civil Procedure, it was argued that when a decision on a question of law on which the judgment of the Court has been reversed or modified by the subsequent decision of the superior Court, it shall not be a ground for review of such judgment. In particular, they referred to the judgment in Beghar Foundation v. Justice KS Puttaswamy And Ors., wherein while considering the review petition filed against the judgment in Justice KS Puttaswamy v. Union of India (Aadhaar judgment) it was observed that change in law or subsequent decisions of a Larger Bench by itself is not a ground of seeking relief by filing a review petition. The respondents also raised objections with respect to the delay in filing the review petitions.
Analysis by the Supreme Court
Justice Nagarathna noted that Rule 1 of Order XLVII of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 states that in any civil case review lies on the grounds stated under Order XLVII Rule 1 CPC. There are broadly three grounds under the said provision and they are as follows:
i) due to discovery of new and important matter or evidence which, after exercise of due diligence was not within the knowledge of the person aggrieved or the person seeking review could not be produced by him at the time when the decree was passed or order made, or
ii) due to a mistake or error apparent on the face of the record, or
iii) on account of any other sufficient reason,
may seek review of a judgment or order of this Court.
The Explanation to Order XLVII Rule 1 reads as under -
a fact that the decision on a question of law on which the judgment of the Court is based has been reversed or modified by the subsequent decision of a superior Court in any other case, shall not be a ground for the review of such judgment.
In the present case, the review petitioner have sought review on the (iii) ground i.e., “on account of any other sufficient reason”. However, the expression is not defined in CPC. Referring to three judgments, the judge observed that “other sufficient reason” must be analogous to the two other reasons mentioned in the provision.
It was noted that although the expression “for any other sufficient reason” is wide enough to take into its scope any situation which is not covered by (i) and (ii), but if a decision of a court is reopened on the basis of a subsequent decision there would be no finality of judgment between the parties. Even if a judgment is subsequently held to be erroneous and is reversed, it would be binding on the parties thereof.
“Merely because that judgment is subsequently overruled by a subsequent decision of a superior Court in any other case, the same shall not be a ground for review of such judgment.”
With respect to the Explanation, the judge noted that the same was in the nature of a proviso and its object and purpose is to be given its full effect. She opined that the explanation indicates that there must be an end to litigation. Considering the scope and ambit of the explanation and the catena of judgments on the scope of review, J. Nagarathna thought it fit to dismiss the review petitions on the grounds of maintainability. She also observed that in Indore Development Authority the Constitution Bench overruled Pune Municipal Corporation and subsequent decisions but did not state that they are open to be reviewed as the same would have been in the teeth of Explanation to Order XLVII Rule 1 CPC.
Justice Shah took a different view. He opined that the judgment under review was passed solely relying on the earlier decision in Pune Municipal Corporation, which was itself doubted and referred to a Constitution Bench, which eventually overruled the decision. Therefore, the review/recall applications were allowed by the Judge. He considered the factual aspects while deciding to allow the review applications filed by the acquiring authorities. Justice Shah also said that it will be in "larger public interest" to allow the review applications, considering that the land acquisitions will lapse otherwise.
Govt. of NCT of Delhi Through the Secretary, Land and Building Department And Anr. v. M/s. K.L. Rathi Steels Limited And Ors.| 2023 LiveLaw (SC) | Diary No. 32257 of 2021| 17th March| Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 204
Code of Civil Procedure 1908- Order XLVII Rule 1 - Is the subsequent overruling of a precedent relied on in a judgment a ground to review it?- Supreme Court 2-judge bench delivers split verdict- Justice MR Shah holds subsequent overruling is a ground to review- Justice BV Nagarathna disagrees
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, 2013 - Section 24(2) - Is the overruling of the judgment in Pune Municipal Corporation v. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki(2014) by a Constitution Bench judgment in Indore Development Authority v. Manoharlal(2020) a ground to review judgments which followed Pune Municipal Corporation?Supreme Court 2-judge bench delivers split verdict- Justice MR Shah holds subsequent overruling is a ground to review- Justice BV Nagarathna disagrees