Revision under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

By | February 17, 2020
Revision under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

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Revision under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 | Overview

Revision is the power of the High Courts to scrutinise any judgment pronounced by a subordinate court and ensuring that the judgment was passed by a competent court. This article aims to analyse the meaning, object and procedure of exercising the powers of revision by the High Courts under the CPC.

Introduction

Revision, etymologically, means to go through or examine a completed task again and edit or make changes. In legal terminology, it means the examination of a judgment pronounced by a lower court by a higher court. The higher courts, in general, exercise supervision over the working of the lower courts to ensure that justice is imparted in all cases. Revisionary power of the higher courts is one tool to ensure that.

Revisionary power is a statutory power and not an inherent power. It means that unless a law specifically empowers a court to exercise the power of revision, the courts cannot suo motu exercise it.

Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure empowers the High Courts of respective States to call for the records of any case decided by a sub-ordinate court and peruse whether the judgment pronounced in the case was within the competence of the court or not and need be, the High Court can make necessary changes. 

Nature and Scope of Section 115

Section 115, as aforesaid, grants revisionary jurisdiction to the High Courts to keep perusal on judgments of subordinate courts. The scope and nature of this provision were examined by the apex court in the landmark case of Major S.S. Khanna v. Brigadier F. J. Dillon[1].

In this case, the appellant and respondent were partners in a partnership firm which was dissolved mutually by the parties. The parties approached the court for realization of the assets and liabilities and the court directed the parties to deposit the realized amount in a joint account. Later the respondent sued the appellant for embezzling the funds from the joint account.

The trial court observed that it does not have the jurisdiction to try the case but the case was not dismissed and fixed for another date. Meanwhile, the respondent filed an application for revision before the High Court under Section 115 of CPC and the High Court observed that the trial had the jurisdiction to try the case and directed the court to proceed with the trial.

The appellant has appealed against this order of the High Court claiming that the High Court has wrongly exercised its revisionary powers because Section 115 applies to cases which have been decided and since this case was not yet decided, High Court’s order is nullity.

To address the argument of the appellant, the apex court explained the nature and scope of the provision. The court observed that Section 115 is divided into two portions. The first part explains the prerequisites to the exercise of the revisionary jurisdiction of the High Court (when there is no appeal from a judgment) and second part lays down the circumstances, i.e. situations when the High Court can exercise its jurisdiction (cases which have decided by any court).

The court further explained that meaning of “cases which have been decided” does not only mean that the entire case must be disposed of and proceedings must come to an end. The court held that when an order is made, that also amounts to deciding of the case with respect one particular issue and revision can be sought against such order as well. Hence, the High Court was correct to exercise its revisionary jurisdiction.

The revisionary jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 115 can be exercised only when the allegation relates to jurisdictional errors of the trial court. It means that the High Court can intervene in its revisionary powers only if the trial court has pronounced judgment without the requisite jurisdiction or if the trial court has refused to take action despite having jurisdiction.

In Panduranga Mandlik v. Maruti Ghatge[2], the apex court held that “an erroneous decision on a question of law reached by the subordinate court which has no relation to questions of jurisdiction of that court, cannot be corrected by the High court under Section 115”[3].

Object of Revisionary Jurisdiction

The object for vesting revisionary powers upon the High Courts is to empower the High Courts to supervise the working of the lower courts. It ensures that no arbitrary and illegal exercise of jurisdiction is being done by the subordinate courts. The objects of granting revisionary powers to the High Courts can be comprehended in four points:

  • To ensure that any judgment, decree or order pronounced by a subordinate court is within its competence and jurisdiction.
  • To ensure that the case before a subordinate court is within the jurisdiction of the court. It means that the case must be within the territorial, pecuniary and subject matter jurisdiction of the court.
  • To ensure that the subordinate courts exercise jurisdiction by remaining within the four corners of the law and do not act illegally or cause material irregularity by exercising jurisdiction in a case.
  • To allow an aggrieved party an opportunity to ensure that any non-appealable orders passed against them can be rectified by the High Court.

Conditions for Exercising Revisionary Powers

Section 115 of the Code that vests revisionary powers on High Courts also provides for certain conditions which are sine qua non to the exercise of revisionary jurisdiction by the High Court. These conditions can be enlisted as follows:

  • Case must be decided: The case in which the application for revision is sought must have been decided and should not be pending before the court for decision. As explained before, in the case of Major S.S. Khanna[4], the apex court observed that case must be decided does not only mean that the entire case must be disposed of and proceedings must come to an end. The court held that when an order is made, that also amounts to deciding of the case with respect one particular issue and revision can be sought against such order as well.
  • No Appeal Allowed: Section 104 read with Order XLIII of the Code mentions orders from which an appeal can be brought before a higher court. All other orders are non-appealable. Similarly, a decree passed by court on the basis of the consent of both the parties is non-appealable. These non-appealable orders or decrees can be revised by filing an application before the High Court for revision and no other orders.
  • Jurisdictional Error: The lower court should have decided the case under one of the three situations: (a) exercising jurisdiction which is not vested upon it, (b) not exercising jurisdiction which is vested upon it and (c) illegally or arbitrarily exercising jurisdiction vested upon it. All these circumstances are called jurisdictional errors. A revision is allowed only if the lower court commits a jurisdictional error in any one of the three ways.
  • Availability of Alternate Remedy: The power to exercise revisionary jurisdiction is a discretionary power of the court and the litigants cannot claim it as a statutory right. Once the application for revision in made, it is completely at the option of the court to exercise its powers or not. In this regard, in the aforementioned case of Major Khanna[5] it was observed the Hon’ble apex court that when the High Court considers that an auxiliary and potent remedy is available to the aggrieved person besides revision petition, the High Courts may reject to entertain such application.

Section 115 of CPC and Article 227 of Constitution

Article 227 of the Indian Constitution entitles supervisory jurisdiction to all the High Courts to peruse and superintend all lower courts within the territory of the High Court. It is often misunderstood that Article 227 is a revisionary jurisdiction of the High Court granted by the Constitution and people often get confused between Article 227 and Section 115.

Both these provisions are completely different from each other. The difference between these provisions can be explained as follows:

  • Section 115 grants revisionary powers which are merely judicial in nature and can be exercised when a lower court commits a jurisdictional error. On the other hand, Article 227 bestows the power of superintendence which is judicial as well as administrative in nature. It means High Court exercises supervision over the appointment, transfer and dismissal of judges of lower courts as well under Article 227.
  • Revisionary Jurisdiction is a statutory power and can be curtailed or modified by the statute. However, supervisory power is a Constitutional power and cannot be curtailed by law.
  • Revisionary powers have limited application and are subject to the conditions mentioned under Section 115 whereas the periphery of Article 227 is much broader and any case of injustice by a lower court can be brought under this provision.

References

  1. K. Takwani, Civil Procedure, (8th ed. 2018).
  2. C. Sarkar, Code of Civil Procedure, Vol. II, (12th ed. 2017).

[1] Major S.S. Khanna v. Brigadier F. J. Dillon, AIR 1964 SC 497.

[2] Panduranga Mandlik v. Maruti Ghatge, AIR 1989 SC 2240.

[3] Ibid. at 2249.

[4] Supra note 1.

[5] Ibid.


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