It is human nature to make mistakes. Judges are also humans. So they're no exception to this
kind of behavior. A judge can make an error in the course of his duties as well. There is yet to be
born a man who has not made a mistake.
For centuries now, the provisions of appeal review and revision have been a part of the law.
These provisions are some important steps in the attempt to remove or reduce the errors by the
Because one of the reasons behind law's birth was to preserve the rights of the public. And so the
existence of law becomes worthless when the judgment of any lawsuit goes wrong. People in
situations where they are wronged, try to get the shelter of law. But when law fails to provide a
person with the shelter, the person becomes helpless and loses his trust in law. It is, therefore, a
common principle that the law should not be mistaken. But it's very difficult not to make
mistakes. For this reason, the provisions of appeal review and revision were born.
Meaning of the term in the legal world
Review means when the court re-examines the decisions made by itself, the examination of any
legislation made by the government or any act of the administrative organizations; it rectifies the
error in an act, judgment, or legislation. According to many leading legal philosophers and
luminaries, the main purpose of this law is to protect the rights of the people as the judgments
made by the courts, not mostly, but at times are fallible. In the process of review, the court might
either overturn the decision or make necessary changes in it. The constitution of India has
provided us with enough provisions of review to make the principles of justice more efficient 1.
Article 32 allows the Supreme Court to issue directions or writs and gives the right to an
individual to knock on the door of the court if his fundamental right has been infringed or
violated. The Parliament can also entrust any other court with the jurisdiction to exercise the
power of the Supreme Court. It allows the individual to avoid the extensive or lengthy legal
procedure and directly file a case in the Supreme Court if his fundamental right has been violated.
So, if there is any law or act of the government that encroaches upon the fundamental
right of an individual, his rights will be enforced under this article. The law or the act will be
reviewed by the court which makes it the most important article in the process of legal review.
According to the Rules of the Supreme Court, such a request must be submitted within 30 days
from the date of judgment or order.
Article 136 of the Indian Constitution, on the similar lines, gives the Supreme Court the
discretionary powers to grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, order, decree, sentence
or determination, in any cause, which has been passed by any court or tribunal. The Supreme
Court thus enjoys being appellate in most of the cases. The Supreme Court often deals with cases
that involve the „question of law', where it thinks that the verdict given by the other court is not
satisfactory. The discretionary power of the Supreme Court is subject to judicial review 2.
Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, on the lines of Article 32, vests powers like issuing writs
and giving directions in the High Court. According to this article, a person whose fundamental
rights have been violated can approach the High Court. The High Court can issue a direction to
any government, person or organization. The High Court acts as a protector of the fundamental
right and gives the ground for judicial review.3
Article 227 of the Indian Constitution, gives the power of supremacy to the High Courts of India
over other courts or tribunals within its jurisdiction (i.e. the courts that lie in its territory). The
High Court can issue directions to the subordinate courts under this article and the courts are
bound by it. The High Court enjoys the power of revision under articles 226 and 227 of the
Constitution of India.
Review is one of the most important parts to ensure justice and this principle is almost present in
every democratic country. Review enables an individual to ensure that his right is not violated by
any act, any law made by the government or by an error of any court. Review truly holds
together the concept of complete justice and separation of power and this function acts as the backbone of the democracy.
If there had not been a system of review in the judicial process, then
the law made by the government would not be subject to the examination or review by the court
And the entire judicial process would become futile. The principle of judicial review ensures the
principle of complete justice. The Supreme Court and the High Court have used this principle
while delivering landmark verdicts like in the case of Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan, where the
Supreme Court laid down the famous Vishaka guidelines.
Under the review petition, the binding judgments of the Supreme Court/High Court can be
reviewed. Generally, in view of stare decisis (the legal principle of determining points in
litigation according to precedent), courts do not disturb a ruling without a solid case. This review
provision is thus an exemption from the legal stare decisis principle. Article 137 of the
Constitution provides for the authority of the Supreme Court of India to revise any judgment it
pronounced (or orders made) pursuant to Article 145 of the Constitution.
The concept of review is one of the important aspects in maintaining human rights, as the
fundamental rights like the right to life, right to speech and expression and right to practice any
religion are enforceable because of the process of judicial review. The contravention of these
rights by the government or by any other legal person can be challenged in the court only by the
process of judicial review. So, this makes it an indivisible part of the judicial process.
The concept also helps in maintaining the limits of the organization of a state, like courts or
government organizations, and checking that there is no outreach of power by the organizations.
The constitution of India has classified the judicial review under three
- Judicial review of constitutional amendments:
The Supreme Court can check the
constitutional amendment in order to see that it doesn't violate any fundamental
or the basic structure of the constitution. The leading case, in this category,
is Kesavananda Bharati vs. Union of India.
- Judicial review of legislation of Parliament, State Legislatures as
The court can review the legislation in order to
examine that the laws made don't violate the fundamental rights and it is mainly
done to check the limitations of the legislatures.
- Judicial review of administrative action of the Union of India, as
well as the State Governments and authorities falling within the meaning of State:
The administrative functions of the governments of both the Union and the states,
can be brought under check by the process of judicial review.
Presidential pardon in terms of judicial review is also an important function of the Indian judicial
system. The president can commute the capital punishment given to a person by the court on the
grounds of morality and mercy. This process involves the President's review, which is entirely in
his hands. In the case of Kehar Singh v. Union of India, the Supreme Court held that the order of
the president in the cases of mercy petition cannot be a subject of judicial review.
Nature, scope and objectives
Judicial review enables a person to enforce his right that might have been overlooked by the
administrative organs or the courts. In the process of judicial review, the court will not look into
the merits, but into the law of the act. If it finds contravention to any dominant law at the time of
review then it would set the decision aside.
The court can set aside any legislation made by the parliament or any act done by the
government or any order passed by the inferior court if they find it to be unconstitutional or
violative of the natural justice principle. The Supreme Court and the High Court can also issue
writs, if the situation demands so, as a part of the process of safeguarding the fundamental
The objective behind this procedure is to make review a tool to ensure complete justice and to
enforce the fundamental rights of an individual. The purpose is to have a check over the working
of the legislature, in order to check the constitutionality or legality of the laws made by them.
The act ensures that the laws made by the legislature passed the litmus test of the constitution.
Another objective behind this law is to rectify the legal errors made while delivering the verdicts. 4. Cases where review lies:
Non-appealable cases– Non-appealable cases are cases where no right is given to the suffered
party or when an appeal is rejected on the grounds of incompetence or being time-barred. The
party who has suffered can hence file for review.
Where appeal lies but is not preferred- In cases where the benefit of an appeal lies but is not
preferred by the party, the party can file for a review but the review must not be against the order
because that would be going into the facts which are not entertained by the courts. When the
party has already filed for an appeal before the court which is pending, in such cases the petition
for review will not be entertained by the court. However, if the review petition is filed first and
the appeal is filed subsequently then the court's jurisdiction to review can't be questioned under
What are the grounds of review cases?
- Discovery of new evidence:
When of new evidence or matter which is substantial to
the case and was not in the cognizance of the concerned person, then that person can
successfully apply for review. However, the burden of proof lies on the concerned
person to prove that at the time of the verdict he was completely unaware of the fact
or evidence that could have an influence in the decision making. However, the mere
fact that the concerned party was not cognizant of the ruling in any other case which
might have impacted the decision wouldn't be considered by the court for review.6
- Error on the face of record:
The prima facie error that looks pretty
conspicuous without a legal analysis of the judgment can only be taken into account for
review under this ground. The error or mistake could either be a mistake in law or a
mistake in fact.
- Other sufficient reason:
This ground of review has given a very wide coverage
of the reviewing process. In the landmark case of Chajju Ram v. Neki it was held
that the sufficient reason shall be connected with the other two reasons in the least
possible way. The mere fact that the court ignored an important fact will not
make a valid point
under this ground.
Who can file for a review?
- Review can be filed by any person who feels himself to be deprived of
rights or aggravated under the law or the rule of law under Rule 1 order 47 of the CPC.
- Or; in non-appealable cases, where no right is given to the suffered party
when an appeal is rejected on the grounds of incompetence or it being time-barred, then
party who has suffered can file for review.
- Or; in cases where the benefit of an appeal lies but is not preferred by
the party, the party can file for a review but the review must not be against the order because
that would go into the merits which are not entertained by the courts. When the party
has already filed for an appeal before the court which is pending, in such cases the
petition for review will not be entertained by the court.7 However, if the review
petition is filed first and the appeal is filed subsequently then the court's jurisdiction
to review can't be questioned under law.
Court of plenary jurisdiction
Under Article 136 of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court of India has the special power
to grant special leave from any judgment, order or sentence made by any court or tribunal in
the territory of India except to those belonging to the Armed Force Courts or tribunals. All
adjudicating bodies that have been formed by the state can be counted as tribunals except the
Armed Force Tribunal.
Article 136 has a very wide scope as it vests the power of plenary
jurisdiction in the Supreme Court by granting it the power to hear any appeal against any kind of
judgment and pass an order related to the appeal if needed, so as to preserve the principle of
justice. Thus plenary power truly stands upon the ideals of democracy as it makes sure that
justice will always be served at last, and removes the concept of injustice by an error of law. The
concept laid down by the constitution-makers was to prevent the miscarriage of justice.
Suo motto review
In law, sua sponte or suo motu (on its own motion) describes the act of authority, to take up the
matter without the request of the other party. This term is generally used for measures taken by a
judge on his own, without a prior motion or application from the parties.
It is a well-known fact that even if time restrictions are imposed on the application, the Court has
the power of suo moto to rectify its own mistakes. Where inherent powers are exercised, the
issue of limitation does not preclude a solution. The decision making authorities can be vested
with suo motu powers of review in the interest of justice. If there are strong reasons present for a
judgment to be reviewed, then there is no excuse why the court should be restrained from
exercising the power of review.
Distinction between Review and Revision
- Review is contained in Section 114 and Order 47 of the CPC whereas
revision is contained in Section 115 of the CPC
- Review is given by the court which passed 8
the decree or made the order whereas revision is executed only by the High Court.
- Review can be done only after the passing of the order whereas revision
can be done when the case has been decided.
- The decree granting a review is appealable whereas the decree granting a
revision is not appealable.
- The grounds for review are the discovery of new evidence, error on the
face of the record and any other sufficient reason however the ground for revision is a jurisdictional error by the lower courts.
The maintenance of justice which is important for every society in a democracy
is possible dueto the presence of the Constitution. The principles of democracy have been
preserved by the
provisions of review.
- The provisions have been used by the appellate courts while delivering verdicts. The
main principle behind review is to protect the sanctity of complete justice and protect
the rights of the individual through the legal process that is dominion over the republic
of India. Review not only protects the right but also the dignity of the individual and
makes sure that there is no miscarriage of justice.
- Justice vs judiciary is a topic that has been a century-long debate but the review
system acts as an invisible bridge and ensures harmony between both by the due
procedure of law. The provision removes the possibility of human error while
delivering verdicts and ensures that the rights of every individual are protected in the
eyes of law.
- The concept of review gives the power to a person to enforce his rights to establish
justice against injustice. The review system is also very essential for checking and
balancing the overreaching acts that the government might perform in the course of
administration. If the legislature makes any law or the government performs any act
that contravenes the right of any person in India and that contravention per se is not
allowed by law, then review acts as a tool to salvation for that person, and any such
act or law passed will be set aside by the appellate court.