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Special Leave Petition - How to File SLP

Complete Guide to Special leave Petition the laws governing it with indept study of Article 136
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Special Leave Petition
Supreme Court of India has been given extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution. By virtue of this Article, the court can grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter, passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India. There is no limit, as in other Articles where it is provided that an appeal can lie only from a judgment, decree or final order. Even from interim orders, leave to appeal is permissible. Whereas under other Articles, appeals lie to the Supreme Court from the High Courts, there is no such restriction in Article 136 and appeals lie from any court or tribunal in the territory of India. The only restriction imposed is contained in sub-clause (2) of the Article. Article 136 reads as follows:

136. Special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court-
(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, the Supreme Court may, in its discretion, grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India.

(2) Nothing in clause (1) shall apply to any judgment, determination, sentence or order passed or made by any court or tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed Forces."

Scope And Extent of The Jurisdiction of The Court Under Article 136

Special Leave Petitions Against Decree In Second Appeals

In Om Prakash v. Lauti Ram, the Court stated that under Article 136 the Supreme Court will entertain an appeal against a decree passed in second appeal if a substantial question of law of general or public importance arises which may not only determine the dispute between the parties, but will be a precedent for guidance for determination of similar

disputes in other cases. The Court may, if it appears that substantial injustice has resulted or that there had been no proper trial of the case or for other similar reasons, interfere with the order or the decree passed by the High Court in second appeal. The mere fact that some question of law arises out of the decision of the High Court will not enable a party to claim a right of appeal to the Supreme Court.

Special Leave Petitions In Criminal Matters

A Legislative Enactment Cannot Override or Take Away Powers of The Supreme Court Under Article 136 of The Constitution

An Undertaking Given By The Tenant To Vacate The Premises Cannot Take Away The Right Under Article 136

Conditions Required To Be Satisfied For Invoking Jurisdiction of The Court Under Article 136

Judicial Or Quasi-Judicial Or A Purely Administrative (Or Executive) Act

In Province of Bombay v. Khushaldas S. Advani, the Supreme Court held that there was an indefinable yet an appreciable difference between the doing of an executive or administrative act or a quasi-judicial act. The question whether an act is a purely ministerial or a judicial one depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. The Court has further held that where on authority was required to act judicially either by express provision of the statute under which it acts or by necessary implications of the said statute, the decisions of such an authority generally amounted to a quasi-judicial decision. Where, however, the executive or administrative bodies were not required to act judicially and were competent to deal with the issues referred to them administratively, their conclusions could not be treated as quasi-judicial conclusions.

In Jaswant Singh Sugar Mills Ltd., Meerut v. Lachmichand, the Court. following the decision in Province of Bombay v. K.S. Advani, (supra) laid down the following tests to determine whether an act is a judicial act:

To make a decision or an act judicial, the following criteria must be satisfied:
(1) It is in substance a determination upon investigation of a question by the application of objective standards to facts found in the light of pre-existing legal rules

(2) It declares rights or imposes upon parties obligations affecting their civil rights; and

(3) that the investigation is subject to certain procedural attributes contemplating an opportunity of presenting its cases to a party ascertainment of facts by means of evidence if a dispute be on question of fact, and if the dispute be on question of law, on the presentation of legal argument, and a decision resulting in the disposal of the matter on findings based upon those questions of law and fact."

Applying these tests, the Court held that the Conciliation Officer ingranting or refusing permission to alter the terms of employment of workmen at the instance of the employer has to act judicially. His decision as not made to depend upon any subjective satisfaction; he was required to investigate and ascertain facts, apply objective standards to facts found, and to declare whether the employer makes out a case for granting permission to alter the terms of employment of his employees. The Court held that the U.P. Industrial Disputes Act and the Order framed thereunder did not lay down any specific procedure, but the duty cast upon the Conciliation Officer to decide the matter after investigating facts by the application of objective standards involved an obligation to evolve a procedure consistent with the purpose and nature of the enquiry, which assured to the disputing parties an opportunity to present their respective cases, and to substantiate the same by evidence and argument.

The question that arose for consideration in some cases before the Court was whether orders made by a High Court on the administrative side would amenable to jurisdiction under Article 136. In Dev Singh v. Registrar Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Court observed:
There is clear distinction between the courts of law exercising judicial powers and other bodies. The decisions by courts are clearly judicial. That is not the case with bodies exercising administrative or executive powers. In certain matters even the Judges have to act administratively and in doing so, they have to act quasi-judicially in dealing with the matters entrusted to them. It is only where the authorities are required to act judicially either by express provisions of the statute or by necessary implication that the decisions of such an authority would amount to a quasi-judicial proceeding. When Judge in exercise of their administrative functions decide cases, it cannot be said that their decisions ate either judicial or quasi-judicial decisions.

In the instant case, the Court held that the High Court, exercising its powers under Rule X(2) of the Rules framed by the High Court under Section 35(3) of the Punjab Court Rules, 1918 against an order passed by a District Judge dismissing employees of a subordinate court, acts in an administrative capacity.

Suppression of Material Facts And Misleading The Court-Leave Can Be Revoked

Jurisdiction under Article 136 is of extraordinary nature and granting of leave is a purely discretionary power. While granting special leave, the Court generally relies upon the statement made by the petitioner in the special leave petition. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the statement made in the special leave petition should be true and correct and no attempt should be made to mislead the Court. No material fact should be suppressed. Whenever it has been brought to the notice of the Court that some material facts have been suppressed or that the Court has been misled by the petitioner, the Court has not hesitated to revoke the special leave granted even at the time of the hearing of such an appeal. In Hari Narain v/s Badri Das, the Court observed:

"It is of utmost importance that in making material statements and setting forth grounds in an application for special leave, care must be taken not to make any statements which are inaccurate, untrue or misleading. In dealing with applications for special leave, the Court naturally takes statements of fact and grounds of fact contained in the petitions at their face value and it would be unfair to betray the confidence of the Court by making statements which are untrue and misleading."

In R.A. Rehman Munshi v. V.D. Modi, the Court observed:

"A party who approaches this Court invoking the exercise of this overriding discretion of the Court must come with clean hands. If there appears to be any attempt to overreach or mislead the Court by false or untrue statement or by withholding true information, which would have a bearing on the exercise of the discretion, the Court would be justified in refusing to exercise the discretion or if a discretion has been exercised, in revoking the leave to appeal granted even at the hearing of the appeal"

In S.M.Newade v. C.J. Bhadke, the Court held that if there was an untrue averment regarding material statements or a false statement on a matter of importance or a deliberate untrue statement regarding valuation has been made to mislead the Court, then the special leave grant can be revoked. In the particular facts of this case, however, the Court held that the mistake was not deliberate as the special leave petition was drafted on the basis of the valuation given in the judgment of the High Court itself, which was corrected long afterwards.

The Court has held that were the petitioner's senior counsel before the High Court, made certain concessions and further did not press the grounds in the application, the filing of the special leave petition without disclosure of the fact would amount to suppression of facts and would disentitle the Petitioner from receiving relief under Article 136 of the Constitution.

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Tribunals Within The Meaning of Article 136

Illustrative Instances of Interference Under Article 136

It has been the practice of the Supreme Court not to embark upon an enquiry into facts and evidence of cases in a special leave petition. The practice which has been followed by the Federal Court and the Supreme Court in respect of the interference with the findings and the appreciation of the evidence has been adopted from the Privy Council in Bibhabati Devi v/s Ramendra Narayan Roy, where it summed up the principles as follows:
(1) The practice applies in the case of all the various judicatures whose final tribunal is the Board.

(2) It applies to the concurrent findings of facts of two courts, and not to the concurrent findings of the Judges who compose such courts Therefore a dissent by a member of the appellate court does not obviate the practice.

(3) A difference in the reasons which bring the Judges to the same finding of fact will not obviate the practice.

(4) In order to obviate the practice, there must be some miscarriage of justice or violation of some principle of law or procedure Miscarriage of justice means such a departure from the rule which permeate all judicial procedure as to make that which happened not in the proper sense of the word judicial procedure at all. The violation of some principle of law or procedure must be such an erroneous proposition of law that if that proposition of law be corrected, the finding cannot stand; or it may be the neglect of some principle of law or procedure whose application will have the same effect. The question whether there is evidence on which the courts arrive at their finding is such a question of law.

(5) The question of admissibility of evidence is a proposition of law, but it must be such as to affect materially the finding. The question of the value of the evidence is not a sufficient reason for departure from practice.

(6) The practice is not a cast-iron one, and the foregoing statement asto reasons which will justify departure is illustrative only, and there may occur cases of such an unusual nature as will constrain the Board to depart from the practice.

(7) The practice relates to the findings of the courts below, which are generally stated in the order of the court, but may be stated findings on the issue before the Courts in the judgments, provided that they are directly related to the final decision of the court.

In Nihar Singh v. State of Punjah, the Court had an occasion to discuss its powers to interfere with the findings of fact and to reassess the evidence in hearing appeals under Article 136. In the words of the Court:

"Article 136 of the Constitution is couched in the widest phraseology. This Court's jurisdiction is limited only by its discretion. It can, therefore, in its discretion, entertain an appeal and exercise all the powers of an appellate court in respect of judgments, decrees, determinations, sentences or orders mentioned therein....But this wide jurisdiction has to be regulated by the practice of this Court."

The Court further held that the practice of the Privy Council followed by the Federal Court and the Supreme Court is not to interfere on questions of fact except in exceptional cases when the finding is such that it shocks the conscience of the Court or by disregard to the forms of the legal process or some violation of the principles of natural justice or otherwise, substantial and grave injustice has been done.

Although normally the Supreme Court is reluctant to interfere with concurrent findings of fact, if essential ingredients necessary for the finding of a fact have not in fact been found by the courts below, then the Court is bound to examine the question whether injustice or wrong is done. The burden of showing that a concurrent finding of two or more courts or tribunals is manifestly unjust lies on the petitioner. But once that burden is discharged it is not only the right but the duty of the Supreme Court to remedy the injustice.

In another case, the Court has observed:
"It has been ruled in many cases before that this Court will not reassess the evidence at large, particularly when it has been concurrently accepted by the High Court and the court or courts below. In other words, this Court does not form a fresh opinion as to the innocence or the guilt of the accused. It accepts the appraisal of the evidence in the High Court and the court or courts below. Therefore before this Court interferes something more must be shown, such as that there has been in trial a violation of the principles of natural justice or a deprivation of the rights of the accused or a misreading of vital evidence or an improper reception or rejection of evidence which, if discarded or received, would leave the conviction unsupportable, or that the court or courts have committed an error of the law or of the forms of legal process or procedure by which justice itself has failed."

In Bharwada Bhoginbhai Hirjibhai v. State of Gujarat, the Court summarized the circumstances when concurrent findings of the courts below in a criminal matter can be reopened by the Supreme Court in an appeal under Article 136 of the Constitution:
(1) that the finding is based on no evidence, or
(2) that the finding is perverse, it being such as no reasonable person could have arrived at even if the evidence was taken at its face value, or
(3) the finding is based and built on inadmissible evidence, which evidence, if excluded from vision, would negate the prosecution case or substantially discredit or impair it, or
(4) some vital piece of evidence which would tilt the balance in favour of the convict has been overlooked, disregarded wrongly discarded."

The Court will not interfere unless the findings are vitiated by errors of law or the conclusions reached by the Courts below are so patently opposed to well-established principles as to amount to a miscarriage of justice. The Court will interfere in a case where it finds that the appellate Court has not at all applied its judicial mind to the appreciation of the evidence and grave injustice has resulted therefrom. Where the Court is satisfied that the findings are vitiated by errors of law or that the conclusions reached by the courts below are so patently opposed to well-established principles of judicial approach, that they can be characterized as wholly unjustified and even perverse, it will reassess the evidence and interfere.

In a case where there were suspicious circumstances regarding execution and attestation of a will noted by the High Court and some difference in the approach of the two Judges composing the Bench of the High Court existed, the Supreme Court allowed the counsel of the parties to go into the entire evidence so that it could ascertain whether the High Court reached the right conclusion or not.

In Indira kaur v. Sheo Lal Kapoor, the Court observed that there are no fetters on the powers of the Court under Article 136 to re-examine the finding and if the Court is satisfied that great injustice has been done it is not only the right but also the duty of the Court to reverse the error and the injustice and upset the finding, notwithstanding the fact that the same has been affirmed thrice. It is not the number of times that a finding has been reiterated that matters; what really matters is whether the finding is manifestly an unreasonable and unjust one in the context of evidence on record. The Court observed:

"Article 136 of the Constitution does not forge any such fetters expressly. It does not oblige this Court to fold its hands and become a helpless spectator even when this Court perceives that a manifest injustice has been occasioned. If and when the court is satisfied that great injustice has been done it is not only the 'right' but also the 'duty of this Court to reverse the error and the injustice and to upset the finding notwithstanding the fact that it has been affirmed thrice. There is no warrant to import the concept of the conclusiveness of divorce on the utterance of Talaq' thrice in interpreting the scope of the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 136. It is not the number of times that a finding has been reiterated that matters. What really matters is whether the finding is manifestly an unreasonable, and unjust one in the context of evidence on record. It is no doubt true that this Court will unlock the door opening into the area of facts only sparingly and only when injustice is perceived to have been perpetuated. But in any view of the matter, there is no jurisdictional lock which cannot be opened in the face of grave injustice".

Sometimes, what amounts to a question of fact has itself been a subject matter of dispute.

Whether the witness should or should not be believed is prima facie a matter for courts of fact to determine and it is a question of fact. Whether a particular accused is guilty of criminal conspiracy along with the other for the commission of the offence is a question of fact. Whether the parties have entered into any wagering transaction is a question of fact.

Whether the appellants are hereditary tenants or not is a question of fact and the Supreme Court declined to interfere with the concurrent findings of the lower courts.53 Whether the consideration mentioned in a deed of sale had been paid or not is a question of fact, and also whether there was sufficient nucleus of joint family property for acquiring new properties by the manager of a joint Hindu family is a question of fact.

Whether a deity was not merely a family deity in which the public had no interest, and that the properties given, to the deity constituted a religious and charitable endowment of a public nature are findings of fact. The Court further held that a mistaken inference from documents is no less a finding of fact if there is no misconstruction of the documents. Whether at a partition between members of a joint Hindu family certain property was left undivided is a question of fact. The finding that the plaintiff had attained majority more than three years prior to the suit is one of fact.

A finding of the authority hearing objections to a scheme under Section 68-F of the Motor Vehicles Act that there was due service of notice on objectors was a finding of fact. The finding that the appellant put the signatures of his father, who was already dead, on the relevant documents attested them and got the securities transferred in the name of the father and received the money from the Post Office are findings of fact. The question whether there was a go-slow during a certain period is a question of fact, and where the Tribunal has come to the conclusion that there was a go-slow during the period, ordinarily the Supreme Court will not go into the findings.

Interference With Interlocutory Orders Under Article 136


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Interference Under Article 136 Where Mixed Questions of Law And Fact Are Involved


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