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Review petition

Topics Covered:

Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.


Review petition


What to study?

For Prelims: Types of petitions and related facts.

For Mains: need for and significance of review of the SC order, procedure to be followed.


Context: Petitioners plan to seek review of the recently delivered Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi and telecom revenue verdicts. Besides, the Supreme Court itself agreed to review its Sabarimala verdict but refused to do so in the Rafale case.

So, let us understand what a review petition means.


What is a review petition and when can it be filed?

Under Article 137, the Supreme Court has the power to review any of its judgments or orders.


Scope for review:

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 court has the power to review its rulings to correct a “patent error” and not “minor mistakes of inconsequential import”.

  • In a 1975 ruling, Justice Krishna Iyer said a review can be accepted “only where a glaring omission or patent mistake or like grave error has crept in earlier by judicial fallibility”.


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

  1. 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.
  2. Mistake or error apparent on the face of the record.
  3. Any other sufficient reason. It means a reason that is analogous to the other two grounds.

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


Who can file a review petition?

As per the Civil Procedure Code and the Supreme Court Rules, any person aggrieved by a ruling can seek a review. However, the court exercises its discretion to allow a review petition only when it shows the grounds for seeking the review.


Time- period within which a review petition should be filed?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


The procedure to be followed:

  1. The rules state that review petitions would ordinarily be entertained without oral arguments by lawyers. It is heard “through circulation” by the judges in their chambers.
  2. Review petitions are also heard, as far as practicable, by the same combination of judges who delivered the order or judgment that is sought to be reviewed.
  3. If a judge has retired or is unavailable, a replacement is made keeping in mind the seniority of judges.
  4. In exceptional cases, the court allows an oral hearing. In a 2014 case, the Supreme Court held that review petitions in all death penalty cases will be heard in open court by a Bench of three judges.


What 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.


Sources: Indian Express.