Sabrimala Review Petition

  • Recently, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the clutch 49 review petitions and all pending applications against its verdict allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple.
  • However, the five-judge bench, comprising of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, clarified that there would be no stay on its September 28, 2018.
  • Petitioners also plan to seek review of the recently delivered Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi and telecom revenue verdicts.

Review Petition

  • A decision of the Supreme Court can be reviewed in a Review Petition. Such review petition is filed before the same court, generally on very limited grounds, such as an error apparent on the face of the record.
  • Courts generally do not unsettle a decision in a review petition, unless there is a strong case.

Constitutional Provisions

  • Article 137 of the Constitution of India grants the Supreme Court the power to review and judgment or order pronounced by the Court.
  • This power is however subject to the Rules made by the Supreme Court under Article 145, as well as the provisions of any law enacted by Parliament.

Scope of Review

  • The court has the power to review its rulings to correct a patent error and not minor mistakes of inconsequential import.
  • When a review takes place, the law is that it is allowed not to take fresh stock of the case but to correct grave errors that have resulted in the miscarriage of justice.
  • The scope of the power of review was explained by the Court in Northern India Caterers (India) vs Lt. Governor Of Delhi (1979) wherein the Court held that a party is not entitled to seek a review of a judgment delivered by this Court merely for the purpose of a rehearing and a fresh decision in the case. If the attention of the Court is not drawn to a material statutory provision during the original hearing the Court will review its judgment. 
  • The Court may also reopen its judgment if a manifest wrong has been done and it is necessary to pass an order to do full and effective justice.

Grounds to Seek Review Petition

In a 2013 ruling, the Supreme Court laid down three grounds for seeking a review of a verdict it has delivered-

  • The discovery of new and important matter or evidence which, after the exercise of due diligence, was not within the knowledge of the petitioner or could not be produced by him.
  • Mistake or error apparent on the face of the record.
  • Any other sufficient reason (any sufficient reason means a reason that is analogous to the other two grounds).

In Union of India v. Sandur Manganese & Iron Ores Ltd, 2013, the court laid down nine principles on when a review is maintainable.

Filing of Review Petition

  • According to Civil Procedure Code and the Supreme Court Rules, any person aggrieved by a ruling can seek a review.
  • However, the court does not entertain every review petition filed. It exercises its discretion to allow a review petition only when it shows the grounds for seeking the review.

Time-period to File Review Petition

  • Under Supreme Court Rules, 1999, suchpetition needs to be filed within 30 days from the date of judgement or order.
  • In certain circumstances, the court can condone a delay in filing the review petition if the petitioner can establish strong reasons that justify the delay.

Procedures Followed in the Court

  • According to the 1999 Rules, areview petitions is entertained without oral arguments by lawyers. Therefore, it is heard through circulation by the judges in their chambers.
  • Review petitions are also heard the same combination of judges who delivered the order or judgment that is sought to be reviewed.
  • If a judge has retired or is unavailable, a replacement is made keeping in mind the seniority of judges.

Incase if Review Petition Fails

  • As the court of last resort, the Supreme Court’s verdict cannot result in a miscarriage of justice. The court has evolved the concept of a curative petition, which can be heard after a review is dismissed to prevent abuse of its process.

Curative Petition

  • A curative petition is the last judicial corrective measure which can be pleaded for in any judgment or decision passed by the Supreme Court which is normally decided by Judges in-chamber.
  • It is only in rare cases that such petitions are given an open-court hearing. Therefore, it is considered as the last and final option available for redressal of grievances.
  • The objective behind allowing such a petition is only to minimize any abuse of the processes of law and to cure gross miscarriage and lapses in the system of justice.
  • The concept of curative petition was first evolved by the Supreme Court in the matter of Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra (2002) where the question was whether an aggrieved party is entitled to any relief against the final judgement/ order of the Supreme Court after the dismissal of a review petition.


Source : Civil Services Chronicle Online, November, 2019