Context: Supreme Court will review Sabarimala judgment but will not do so in Rafale case; a review plea is set to be moved over Ayodhya verdict too.
A Review petition
- A judgment of the Supreme Court becomes the law of the land, according to the Constitution. It is final because it provides certainty for deciding future cases.
- However, the Constitution itself gives, under Article 137, the Supreme Court the power to review any of its judgments or orders. This departure from the Supreme Court’s final authority is entertained under specific, narrow grounds.
- So, 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.
On what grounds can a petitioner seek a review of an SC verdict?
In a 2013 ruling, the Supreme Court itself 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;
- or any other sufficient reason.
In subsequent rulings, the court specified that “any sufficient reason” means a reason that is analogous to the other two grounds.
Who can file a review petition?
It is not necessary that only parties to a case can seek a review of the judgment on it. As per the 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.
Procedure the court uses to consider a review petition
- As per 1996 rules framed by the Supreme Court, a review petition must be filed within 30 days of the date of judgment or order.
- While a judgment is the final decision in a case, an order is an interim ruling that is subject to its final verdict.
- In certain circumstances, the court can condone the delay in filing the review petition if the petitioner can establish strong reasons that justify the delay.
If a review petition fails
- As the court of last resort, the Supreme Court’s verdict cannot result in a miscarriage of justice.
- In Roopa Hurra v Ashok Hurra (2002), the court itself evolved the concept of a curative petition, which can be heard after a review is dismissed to prevent abuse of its process.
- A curative petition is also entertained on very narrow grounds like a review petition, and is generally not granted an oral hearing.
The Supreme Court’s power to review any of its judgments or orders is entertained under specific, narrow grounds. Discuss the above statement in the context of Supreme Court’s decision to review its judgements in the recent past.