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Special Leave Petition in Supreme Court

The Constitution of India grants the Supreme Court with exclusive power to provide special leave for appeal against any judgment, order, or decree made by any Court/tribunal within Indian Territory (Article 136).

The Supreme Court of India holds a special power as the country's apex court. It has the authority to grant leave to appeal in cases involving substantial constitutional questions or instances of gross injustice. This bestowed power allows the court to carefully consider and review judgments, ensuring justice is upheld.

Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) hold a significant role within the Indian judicial system. They grant the aggrieved party a unique opportunity to present their case before the Apex court, appealing any judgment or order issued by a Court or tribunal in India.

To verify if the Special Leave Petition (SLP) was filed or not, it is advisable to visit the official website of the Supreme Court.

The Parties who can file SLP

Any party who feels aggrieved can file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) against a judgment or order of any Court or Tribunal ion India.

Circumstances under which SLP can be filed
You can file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) against any judgment, decree, or order issued by a High Court or tribunal in India.

Alternatively, if the High Court denies granting the certificate of fitness for appeal to the Supreme Court of India, SLP can be filed.

SLP filing time frame

You can file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) against any judgment of the High Court within 90 days from the date of the judgment.

Alternatively, an SLP (Special Leave Petition) can be filed within 60 days if the High Court denies granting a certificate of fitness for appeal to the Supreme Court.

You can file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) even after 90 days from the date of judgment, as long as you provide valid reasons for the delay to the court. The court will then evaluate those reasons and determine if they are satisfactory before accepting your SLP.

Contents of SLP

The petition must include all relevant facts that would assist the court in deciding whether to grant the Special Leave Petition (SLP). It should be signed by an Advocate on record. Additionally, the petition should state that the petitioner has not filed any other petition in the High Court.

When filing an appeal, it is important to include a certified copy of the judgment that is being appealed against. The petitioner should also provide an affidavit verifying this copy. Additionally, all the documents that were submitted in the lower court should be included with the appeal.

Supreme Court's power under Article 136

The Indian constitution grants the Supreme Court of India with discretionary power. This means that the Supreme Court has the ability to decide whether or not to grant special leave to appeal against any judgment, decree, or order made by any court or tribunal in India. The Supreme Court also has the discretion to refuse such leave if it deems necessary.

A party who is dissatisfied with a judgment or decree from the high court does not have an automatic right to claim special leave to appeal. It is a privilege that only the Supreme Court of India has, and it can grant this leave to appeal if deemed appropriate.

If an aggrieved party has a constitutional or legal issue that needs clarification, they can approach the Apex Court under Article 136. The Supreme Court of India can then hear the case as either a civil or criminal appeal, depending on the nature of the matter.

Supreme Court of India has this residual power.

High Court can initiate contempt proceedings if there is no stay order in SLP

In certain cases, the High Court has the authority to initiate contempt proceedings even if there is no stay order in the Supreme Court's Special Leave Petition (SLP). This decision depends on the specific details and circumstances surrounding the case.

SLP filed can be withdrawn
If the Supreme Court admits a special leave petition and valid reasons are presented, the petitioner has the option to withdraw it. The court understands that all available options regarding the cause of action mentioned in the SLP have been exhausted by the petitioner.

SLP can be filed by a Private Party
In the case of Ramakant Rai v. Madan Rai and Ors, it was established that a private party can appeal under Article 136 if there are errors in the decision made by the High Court and the state has not appealed against those errors.

SLP cannot be filed for infringement of fundamental rights
You cannot file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court for the infringement of fundamental rights. Instead, you must file a writ petition under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution to address any such infringement.

High Court can review its own order even after the Supreme Court rejects the Special Leave Petition (SLP)
Even if the Supreme Court rejects the special leave petition (SLP), high courts retain the power to review their judgments.

Writ Petition can be filed after the SLP is dismissed by the Apex Court
If the special leave petition is dismissed, there is still an option to file a writ petition before the High Court. Therefore, the court should not reject a writ petition solely because the Supreme Court dismissed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) without giving reasons.

Court Judgments on SLP
There have been numerous judgments discussing the scope of power of the Supreme Court under Article 136 and the issue of maintainability of special leave petitions (SLPs). Here are some noteworthy judgments that address these topics.

In the case of Narpat Singh v. Jaipur Development Authority (2002) 4 SCC 666, the Supreme Court made the following observation:

The power granted to the Supreme Court by Article 136 of the Constitution is not a right of appeal for parties involved in litigation, but rather a discretionary power that allows the Court to ensure justice is served. This power is exceptional and should be used sparingly, only in cases where there is a significant failure of justice or extraordinary situations. Alternatively, it can also be used as an overriding power to rectify injustice and deliver fair outcomes.

According to a Supreme Court case, Ashok Nagar Welfare Association v. R.K. Sharma AIR 2002 SC 335, the Court has the authority to exercise its discretion even after granting special leave and when the appeal is heard.

The Supreme Court has clarified that a Special Leave Petition (SLP) cannot be filed to challenge an order passed by the High Court on its administrative side., 8 September, 2023

In the case of Tirupati Balaji Developers Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Bihar, AIR 2004 SC 2351, the Supreme Court emphasized the significance of Article 136 of the Constitution, which grants the court exceptional authority and discretion. The court highlighted that this power should be exercised with utmost care and caution, ensuring fairness and justice in the process. It's important to note that Article 136 does not grant an automatic right of appeal to any party; instead, it places trust in the Supreme Court to use its discretion for upholding justice and rectifying injustices.

In the case of Jamshed Hormusji Wadia v. Board of Trustees, Port of Mumbai (AIR 2004 SC 1815, para 33), the Court stated that the Supreme Court's discretionary power is extensive and cannot be defined by specific words in Article 136 itself. This discretionary power can only be invoked in exceptional circumstances, such as when a question of law with general public importance arises or when a decision being challenged before the Supreme Court is particularly egregious. The exercise of this overriding and exceptional power should be rare and limited to cases where special circumstances have been demonstrated and it serves to uphold justice in extraordinary situations.

Although Article 136 grants the Supreme Court discretionary power without any apparent limitation, the Court itself has placed certain restrictions on this power. In cases like Ram Saran Das and Bros. v. Commercial Tax Officer, Calcutta & Ors. AIR 1962 SC 1326(1328) and Kunhayammed v. State of Kerala 2000(6) SCC 359 (para 13), the Supreme Court has emphasized that this power should be used sparingly and only in exceptional circumstances. The Court has also asserted that a more or less consistent approach should be taken when granting special leave in the wide range of matters covered under Article 136 (as stated in Pritam Singh v. The State AIR 1950 SC 169).

N. Suriyakala v. A. Mohan doss and Others (2007) 9 SCC 196
The Supreme Court, when discussing the purpose of Article 136, acknowledged that it is not a common avenue for appeals. Instead, it is considered a "residual" provision that grants the Supreme Court discretionary power to review and overturn judgments or orders made by any court or tribunal in India.

Columbia Sportswear Company v. Directorate of Income Tax (Judgment of Supreme Court of India in SLP no 31543 of 2011)
The issue in the current case before the Supreme Court revolves around whether an SLP (Special Leave Petition) can be filed to challenge a decision or order made by the Authority for Advance Ruling (AAR); the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR) was established under the Income Tax Act and the Finance Act of 1993 to provide rulings on tax liabilities for specific categories of taxpayers involved in certain transactions. These rulings held a binding effect on taxpayers.

In this case, the Petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court of India against the ruling of AAR through an SLP (Special Leave Petition).

The Supreme Court has the authority to deny special leave to appeal, even if there are valid grounds for challenging the Ruling of AAR. This discretion allows them to refuse an appeal and suggest pursuing a writ petition under Article 226/227 in the High Court as an alternative method to challenge the decision made by AAR.

Mathai @ Joby v. George [ (2010) 4SCC 358]

The court made an observation that Article 136, similar to Article 226, is a discretionary remedy. This means that the court has the choice to intervene or not, even if there is an error of law or fact in the order being challenged.

Article 136 does not grant any party the right to appeal. It is clear from the language used that Article 136 simply gives the Supreme Court the authority to intervene in exceptional cases at its discretion.

The court also highlighted the need for a constitutional bench to establish general guidelines on which types of cases should be brought under Article 136.

The inclusion of the phrase "in its discretion" in Article 136 makes it clear that this article does not grant an automatic right of appeal to any party. Instead, it gives the Supreme Court the power to intervene in exceptional cases.

This point has been highlighted in previous cases such as:
M/s. Bengal Chemical & Pharmaceutical Works Ltd. v. Their Employees (AIR 1959 SC 633), Kunhayammed & Ors v. State of Kerala & Anr (2000(6) SCC 359), and State of Bombay v. Rusy Mistry (AIR 1960 SC 391). It was further emphasized in Municipal Board, Pratabgarh & Anr v. Mahendra Singh Chawla & Ors [1982(3) SCC 331] and Chandra Singh v. State of Rajasthan (AIR 2003 SC 2889), where it was noted that the Court is not bound to overturn an order just because it does not comply with the law, as the power granted by Article 136 is discretionary.

The Special Leave Petition (SLP) holds a significant position in the Indian judicial system. It serves as a "residual power" granted to the Supreme Court of India and is only exercised when there is a substantial question of law or when gross injustice has occurred. The Supreme Court of India has discretionary power to grant leave to appeal, and it has the authority to refuse such leave if deemed necessary. The party seeking redress cannot demand special leave to appeal under certain circumstances.


Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

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