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Case Comment: Union of India (UOI), Rep. By Its v/s Mysore Paper Mills Ltd

Union of India (UOI), Rep. By Its ... vs Mysore Paper Mills Ltd. And Ors. on 29 August 2003

Facts of this case are:
Two orders were filed before the Karnataka High Court on 27th Feb. 1997. The respondent wanted a refund of the excess fare charges which were recovered from him allegedly. The issue raised was whether the tribunals have jurisdiction to entertain claim petitions.

The Tribunal answered the question in negative and held that it has jurisdiction to entertain the claim petitions filed before it. The appellants were aggrieved by this order and thus filed appeal for the correctness of the same. This case is entirely based on the issue where the Jurisdiction of the Tribunals under section 115 of the Code of Civil procedure to be subordinate to the High Court and whether revision is maintainable under the same is in question. Statement of facts are not provided by the court as it did not seem important to them. The court gave its Judgement in favour of the respondents and answered this question in negative.

The main issue which the court was dealing in this case was- Are Tribunals which are established under the Karnataka Private Educational (Discipline and Control) Act, 1975 now the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, the Motor Vehicles Act and the Railways Claims Tribunal Act, Courts subordinate to the High Court for purpose of Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure?

We will first have a look on Section 115 of CPC.

Section 115. Revision: The High Court can call for the record any case which has been decided by any Court subordinate to such High Court and in which no appeal lies thereto, and if such subordinate Court appears:
  1. to have failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested; or
  2. to have exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law; or
  3. to have acted illegally in the exercise of its jurisdiction;[1]

The arguments of the counsel for both the sides and the cases cited by them were carefully analyzed.

Sri Sanjay Gowda, counsel for the appellant, said that earlier, before the establishment of these tribunals, civil courts decided all the matters. Tribunals were established for the purpose of lowering the burden of these civil courts. According to Section 23(2) of the Railway Claims Tribunal Act, (If the order is passed with the consent of the parties in a tribunal, there shall be no appeal to it.) such orders passed by them cannot be appealed.

He also said that when orders cannot be appealed, automatically revision is maintained under Section 115 of Code of Civil Procedure.  He also relied on the decision of the High Court under Bal Gopal Das V. Mohan Singh[2] which held that the Tribunal is a court and not a persona designata, and it is subordinate to the High court under section 115 CPC.
 
Sri Srinivas Kulkarni, said that according to section 115 of the CPC, a revision lies in such orders. He gave reference to the The General Manager, Karnataka vs Smt. Housamathi Shidramappa where it was held that:
When a situation arises where there are contrary decisions of the Learned single judge and a division bench, the judge who is deciding the controversy should follow the decision of the division bench. Therefore, it is held that revision under Section 115 of the Code against the order of the Claims Tribunal is maintainable.[3]

Sri Sowri Raju also laid the argument that as provision for appeal is not applicable, therefore revision should lie under the Civil Procedure Code. He also relied on the judgement of Excellent Education Society's [4] and said that tribunals should also be viewed in the same manner.

The arguments of the counsel for the other side who argue that Tribunals are not courts subordinate to the High Court and hence no revision lies.

Sri Nair laid his argument on the view that orders by the tribunal cannot be revised according to section 115 of the CPC as the jurisdiction of the civil court is taken away when a tribunal is formed. Also, there is no provision in the Railway Claims Tribunal about the revision, so we can say that no revision lies. According to section 3 of CPC,[5] we cannot say that the tribunal is a civil court. Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure says that courts should try all suits unless it is barred from doing so.[6]

Article 227 is for the general power of superintendence over courts and tribunals and not for revision. He also relied on the judgement of the Supreme Court in Associated Cement Companies Limited v. P.N. Sharma. [7]

Sri Nanjundaswamy, he relied on the fact that a tribunal is not a court and it does not have all the powers of the civil court, and therefore no revision lies. He also said that under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, appeal is an exception, and therefore, Article 227 cannot be invoked when there is a bar on jurisdiction. He relied on the judgement of Revanappa v. Gunderao[8] and said that orders by the tribunals cannot be subject to revision.

Sri Satish M. Doddamani, relied on the fact that both the tribunal and court derive power from the state. All the courts like the district court, the small cause court and other courts inferior to the district court are subordinate to the high court. Revision is done by the high court where no appeal lies.

In my opinion, the counsel for the appellants did not gave strong arguments about the issue being discussed. I tried looking down at some case laws which could have supported the reasoning of the appellants. There are several case laws apart from those mentioned in the judgement which could have supported the idea that tribunals are subordinate to the High Court and revision lies according to section 115 of The Code of Civil Procedure. But, in my view the reasoning adopted could not have a great emphasis as arguments by the counsel for the respondents are very strong. I am satisfied with the judgement delivered in this case.

In T. V. Subba Rao v. T. Koteswara Rao, the court gave emphasis on the phrase ‘any court subordinate to such High Court’, and said that this phrase does not refer to a certain category of court, but to all the categories of courts which can be considered as subordinate or inferior to the High Court. Every court or tribunal which perform its functions within the territorial limits of a particular state, the High Court has jurisdiction over all civil as well as criminal matters of that state and thus is subordinate to the High court of that State. [9]

In Narayan Nagappa Hegde v. Shankar Narasimha Bhatta, the court said that section 3 of CPC is not an exhaustive list of courts and it does not mean that all other courts will be excluded from being subordinate to the High Court. Also, if the court or tribunal lies within the territorial jurisdiction of that state, we can simply not say that it is not subordinate to the High Court. The High court has the jurisdiction over all such courts.[10]

In Balgopal v. Mohan Singh, it was decided that a tribunal which was formed under the Displaced Persons Act, 1951 was subordinate to the High Court under section 115 of CPC. It was also held that the orders passed by the tribunal can be revised by the High court. Though this case mainly focuses on the Displaced Persons Act, but it also gave its reasoning on the issue that orders passed by tribunals should be revised by the High Court or not. [11]

Some of the cases cited by the counsel for the respondents are:
In New India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Smt. Molia Devi, the person who is the appointed as a member of the Claims Tribunal is appointed as an individual and not as a member of a court. And therefore, Claims Tribunal is not subordinate to the High Court. [12] This case places contradictory reasoning when compared to the case of Bal Gopal v. Mohan Singh.

In Associated Cement Companies Ltd Case, the court based its reasoning on the point that the word ‘court’ and tribunal are different, and they are synonyms. Court is used when we talk about the Judicial Powers of the state and punish the wrongs in the administration of justice, and it denotes the Ordinary courts of Civil Judicature.

Tribunals are formed to avoid delay in the decisions of the court as the amount of pending cases in the court are huge. Tribunals perform some special and distinct functions from the court. Both have similar functions, but they are separate. Tribunals are formed for the special jurisdiction under the Special Act while Court is constituted by the State and is governed by the Constitution to exercise its judicial powers. [13]

Railway Claims Tribunal Act is specially constituted to deal with the matters related to loss, damage, compensation to people who die during accidents, refund of fares, etc. The various sections of this act include:
Section 3- Establishment of the RCT
Section 4- Composition of Tribunal
Section 13- Power, Jurisdiction and Authority of the Tribunal
Section 15- Bar of Jurisdiction
Section 18- Power and Procedure of the Tribunal
Section 23- Remedy against the order of RCT . [14]

After going across the provisions of the RCT, it becomes clear that it is formed by taking away the rights of the civil courts and giving those rights to the tribunal. Those matters which the tribunal decides should be final and the civil courts cannot revise them. Therefore, the tribunal is not subordinate to the High Court, and thus no revision lies. Thus, the argument of Sri Sanjay Gowda, counsel for the appellants when he says court subordinate should include tribunals is not correct.

Similarly, in Bal Gopal’s case, the court held that the orders of the tribunal where there is no appeal are subject to revision under section 115 CPC. But, under section 25 of the act, it is said that all proceedings of the tribunal should be governed by the provisions of CPC. So, it is the function of the Claims Tribunal to decide any matter and the argument of Sri Sowri Raju, that it is a court is not correct.

In the case of M/s Excellent Education Society, it was held that the order passed by the Education Appellate Tribunal (EAT) as a judge under 1975 Act can be revised under Section 115 CPC. But it should be clear that a district judge handles the functioning of the EAT, and they are given these powers by taking away the jurisdiction of the ordinary civil courts. Also, powers of the EAT are not dealt upon a court but powers of the Court of appeal are dealt upon a tribunal. Therefore, we can conclude that EAT is also a tribunal. The district judge functioning in the tribunal will get only limited powers as said in section 96 of the Education Act. Therefore, EAT is not subordinate to the High Court. [15]

In the case of Sadhana Lodh v. National Insurance Co. Ltd, a writ petition was filed before the high court against the order of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. The court held that every person has a right to appeal and it is a statutory right. Taking in mind Section 149(2) and 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, the court held that:
The ground of challenge cannot be enflamed by filing a petition under Article 226 or Article 227 of the constitution.

Also, when the right to appeal is given, the person cannot just go to the High court to file a petition under Article 227. If a person is not given the remedy to file an appeal, he can file a revision before the High court and if the State has barred the filing of revision under Section 115 CPC, then a person can go to the High court and file a petition under Article 227 of the constitution. According to me, this case is not appropriate with the facts of the present case, so the counsel for the appellants is not justified in citing the above case. [16]

In the case of Revannapa, the court held that revision is not maintainable. This case gave a distinction between a civil court and a tribunal. Also, in General Manager, KSRTC’s case, the judge held that revision is not maintainable under section 115 CPC. [17]

In S.S.Cooperative Housing Society Nagpur v. S.D the court held that under section 115 CPC, the High Court has the power to supervise the courts which are inferior to it. But it does not mean that if any person is aggrieved by the decision of the district court or any other court subordinate to the high court, they can appeal to the high court for relief. Therefore, revision is not a substantive right. [18]

In Chandra Kumar v. Union of India and in Sampath Kumar v. Union of India, the main issue which was referred in this case was not relevant to the facts of the present case.
As per Article 323 A and Article 323 B of the constitution, under Chapter 6, Part 6, it does not consider tribunals to be subordinate to the High Court. [19]

J. Thakur and J. Ramesh focused on the term court subordinate to the High Court. Section 3 of the CPC says that the revisional power is exercised under section 115 CPC only if a case is decided by one of the courts mentioned in section 3. If we analyze this section carefully along with section 115 CPC, we will come to the same conclusion that the tribunals are not subordinate to the High Court and therefore, no revision lies as per section 115 of CPC.

The decision held by the court in this case is correct. Tribunals are specially created to ensure an alternate institutional mechanism apart from the civil courts. These courts are relieved from the burden of a huge number of the cases and at the same time, a speedy justice is ensured to the public. The civil courts are excluded from the jurisdiction of those matters which are given to the Tribunals. The main point of difference between a Court and a tribunal is that a tribunal can choose its own procedure to function, but the court must act according to the laws enacted in the Code of Civil Procedure.  We can say thus say that the Tribunals are not civil courts and thus are not subject for revision.

The last point which the court made while deciding the case was that- Wherever a court wanted an order by the tribunal to be revised, it has mentioned for the same. An example for this is the Family Courts Act. In Section 10 of the Family Courts Act, a family court is treated to be a civil court with all its power.  In Section 19(4), it is given that an order passed by the Family Court is revisable by the High Court.[20]

In Excellent Educational Society V. Smt. J. Sahiba Begum, the court has held the view that the Education Appellate Tribunal is a court which is subordinate to the High Court under section 115 CPC.  The judges relied on the judgements of Kerala State Electricity Board V. Kunhaliumma and Chhaganlal V. Municipal Corporation.

In the first case, the judge while deciding the case was acting as a district judge of a court, compared to this case where an appeal is maintainable under Section 94 of the Karnataka Education Act, and not before a district court, but before a tribunal under section 96 of this act. While exercising its powers, the district judge acts as an Education Appellate Tribunal and certain powers of CPC are vested upon the tribunal. [21]

In Chhaganlal’s case, the court held that appeal should be provided in the cases decided by the district court whose decisions are to be final. In this case, appeals do not lie to any civil court under the Education Act. [22]

If we analyze the decision of the court in Shyam Sunder Aggarwal And Ors. V. Union of India. 1996, it becomes clear that whenever we provide powers to the authorities of Civil courts for general civil disputes, the orders given by them would be applicable for revision (if no appeal is present) under section 115 CPC.

Provided, the authority should be a general one, and not formed for some special cases out of special enactments. In this case, the tribunal is formed to decide some special set of cases, therefore they cannot be called as civil courts subordinate to the High Court under section 115 CPC. [23]

These case laws clearly strengthen the arguments by the counsel for the respondents and I agree with the decision of the Karnataka High court in this case.

End-Notes:
  1. The High Court should not, in any case, reverse any order during a suit, except where the order is given in the favour of the party who applied for revision
  2. The High Court should not, reverse any decree or order against which an appeal lies to the High court or to any Court subordinate to it.
  3. There shall be no revision before the Court except where the suit is stayed by the High court. Mohd Aqib Aslam, Revisional Jurisdiction of High Court: Section 115 Code Of Civil Procedure, legalserviceindia.com, http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-1826-revisional-jurisdiction-of-high-court-section-115-code-of-civil-procedure.html
  4. Bal Gopal Das vs Mohan Singh, (1964) All 504 (India).
  5. The General Manager, Karnataka vs Smt. Housamathi Shidramappa, (1999) KAR 170 (India).
  6. 3. Subordination of Courts .- The District Court is subordinate to the High Court, and every Civil Court of a grade, inferior to that of a District Court and every Court of Small Causes is subordinate to the High Court and District Court., The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, bareactslive.com, (Mar. 4) (2020), http://www.bareactslive.com/ACA/ACT379.HTM.
  7. Section 9 of the Code of Civil procedure The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, bareactslive.com, (Mar. 4) (2020), http://www.bareactslive.com/ACA/ACT379.HTM.
  8. Associated Cement Companies Limited V. P.N. Sharma, (1964) SCR (2) 366.
  9. Revanappa v. Gunderao, (1981) KarLJ 361
  10. T. V. Subba Rao v. T. Koteswara Rao, (1962) AP 37.
  11. Narayan Nagappa Hegde v Shankar Narasimha Bhatta, (1965) KAR 143 (India)
  12. Bal Gopal Das vs Mohan Singh, (1964) All 504 (India).
  13. Anirudh Prasad Ambasta And Ors. vs State Of Bihar, (1989) BLJR 622.
  14. Associated Cement Companies Limited V. P.N. Sharma, (1964) SCR (2) 366.
  15. Union Of India v. Mysore Paper Mills Ltd, (2003) KAR 4155 (India)
  16. Union Of India v. Mysore Paper Mills Ltd, (2003) KAR 4155 (India)
  17. Sadhana Lodh v. National Insurance Co. Ltd., (2003) (India)
  18. Union Of India v. Mysore Paper Mills Ltd, (2003) KAR 4155 (India)
  19. Union Of India v. Mysore Paper Mills Ltd, (2003) KAR 4155 (India).
  20. Part VI - The States --- Chapter V The High Courts in the States, ConstitutionofIndia.blogspot.com http://constitutionindia.blogspot.com/2008/08/part-vi-states-chapter-v-high-courts-in.html#:~:text=(1)%20Notwithstanding%20anything%20in%20article,writs%2C%20including%20writs%20in%20the.
  21. Union Of India v. Mysore Paper Mills Ltd, (2003) KAR 4155 (India).
  22. Union Of India v. Mysore Paper Mills Ltd, (2003) KAR 4155 (India).
  23. Union Of India v. Mysore Paper Mills Ltd, (2003) KAR 4155 (India).
  24. Shyam Sunder Aggarwal v. Union of India, (1996) SCC (2) 471.

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