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Review proceedings have to be strictly confined to the scope of Order 47 Rule 1 CPC: SC reiterates

SHRI RAM SAHU (DEAD) THROUGH LRS & ORS v VINOD KUMAR RAWAT & ORS., CIVIL APPEAL NO.3601 OF 2020 (@ Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 28150 OF 2017), November 3, 2020.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice M.R. Shah observed that the ambit of the review under Order 47 Rule 1 is restricted to only the ground mentioned under the order and the same cannot be exercised as an inherent power.

The matter is a civil suit for the declaration of the sale deed dated 25.03.1995 as null and void which has been executed by defendant no.3 in the favor of defendant no.1&2. The trial court dismissed the suit stating that the sale deed was not executed in the favor of the plaintiff-appellant and aggrieved by the same the plaintiff preferred First Appeal No.241 of 2005 before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh. Where the High Court after the appreciation of the evidence on record dismissed the appeal and in doing so the court has observed the possession of the disputed property is with the plaintiff. After two years, the respondents 1 &2-Original Defendants1 & 2 filed an application seeking a review of the Para 20 of the judgment and the High Court has deleted the Para 20 of the judgment dated 10.12.2013 passed in First Appeal No.241 of 2005 as the issue of possession of the disputed property was neither raised before the trial court nor the first appellant court. Dissatisfied by the impugned order, the plaintiffs filed an appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants submitted that the High Court has exceeded its jurisdiction under Order 47 Rule 1 CPC and ought not to have set aside the finding regarding the possession of the property and relied on the judgments of the court in Sri Gangai Vinayagar Temple v. Meenakshi Ammal (2015) 3 SCC 624; Bhuwan Singh v. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. (2009) 5 SCC 136; and Sayeda Akhtar v. Abdul Ahad (2003) 7 SCC 52. Further, the appellants contended that,

It is submitted that all the parties were aware of the rival cases and the issue with respect to possession was present and even the plaintiffs also led evidence on possession, non framing of the specific issue with respect to possession would be non-significant. It is submitted that therefore the High Court has committed a grave error in deleting para 20 of the final judgment and order dated 10.12.2013 passed in First Appeal No. 241/2005 with respect to possession mainly on the ground that no issue was framed by the learned trial Court with respect to possession. (Para 3)

The court has observed that,

The dictionary meaning of the word “review” is “the act of looking, offer something again with a view to correction or improvement”. It cannot be denied that the review is the creation of a statute. In the case of Patel Narshi Thakershi vs. Pradyumansinghji Arjunsinghji, (1971) 3 SCC 844, this Court has held that the power of review is not an inherent power. It must be conferred by law either specifically or by necessary implication. The review is also not an appeal in disguise. (Para 7)

To appreciate the scope of review, it would be proper for this Court to discuss the object and ambit of Section 114 CPC as the same is a substantive provision for review when a person considering himself aggrieved either by a decree or by an order of Court from which appeal is allowed but no appeal is preferred or where there is no provision for appeal against an order and decree, may apply for review of the decree or order as the case may be in the Court, which may order or pass the decree. From the bare reading of Section 114 CPC, it appears that the said substantive power of review under Section 114 CPC has not laid down any condition as the condition precedent in exercise of power of review nor the said Section imposed any prohibition on the Court for exercising its power to review its decision. However, an order can be reviewed by a Court only on the prescribed grounds mentioned in Order 47 Rule 1 CPC, which has been elaborately discussed hereinabove. An application for review is more restricted than that of an appeal and the Court of review has limited jurisdiction as to the definite limit mentioned in Order 47 Rule 1 CPC itself. The powers of review cannot be exercised as an inherent power nor can an appellate power can be exercised in the guise of power of review. (Para 9)

The court also discussed the gamut of Section 114 of CPC where no condition precedent has been laid down on court for exercising the power of review and however, held that an order can be review on the grounds under Order 47 Rule 1 CPC. The court has also taken note of the settled positions in T.C. Basappa vs. T.Nagappa, AIR 1954 SC 440, Parsion Devi vs. Sumitri Devi and West Bengal and Others vs. Kamal Sengupta and Anr., (2008) 8 SCC 612 in analyzing what constitutes an error apparent on the face of the record.

Therefore, when the observation with respect to the possession of the plaintiff were made on appreciation of evidence/material on record, it cannot be said that there was an error apparent on the face of proceedings which were required to be reviewed in exercise of powers under Order 47 Rule 1 CPC. (Para 10)

The court held that the non-framing of an issue regarding the possession would be of no significance as there were pleadings regarding possession in the plaint and written statement. Thus, has restored the Para 20 of the judgment dated 10.12.2013 passed in First Appeal No.241 of 2005, and the impugned order dated 14.07.2017 passed by the high court in review petition has been quashed and set aside.

Lalitha Sarvani. A



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