Review Petition: Essential to Justice or a Cope-out?

A Review Petition in the Supreme Court is said to be the last resort a case can go to in the fight for justice. Review Petition is the concept where in front of the same court a plea to review the facts and circumstances is filed. The article deals with the current pleas filed for the Review Petition and analysis the need for the same. The article further contemplates when a petition can be filed. 

What exactly is a review petition?

The Supreme Court is the Highest Court in India. The role of this court is as a guardian of the Constitution and as the Highest Court of Appeal. There are mainly two cases that the Supreme Court accepts the first being appeals of the high court and the second being cases that involve serious human rights violation that needs immediate resolution. 

A review petition[i]is filed by the litigants when they believe there has been a miscarriage of justice by the judgment passed by the Supreme Court. The word “Review” in the legal world denotes a judicial re-examination of the case. Therefore, in order to rectify an error and prevent the gross miscarriage of justice, a provision for review has been laid down under the Section 114 of the Code of Civil Procedure which gives a substantive right of review and Order XLVII there under provides for the procedure this states that any party aggrieved by an order or judgment may apply for reviewing the said order in the same court. 

Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere.

Martin Luther King

Rationale behind Review Petition

The main question that arises is won’t re-examination and review of the case take up precious time of the court. The main rationale behind the review petition is to reconsider if there by mistake has been a miscarriage of justice done. In the case of Rupa Ashok Hurru v. Ashok Hurra[ii]it was held that “even though the judges of the highest court do their best subject to the limitation of human fallibility yet situations may arise, in the rarest of rare cases, which would require consideration of a final judgment to set the right of a miscarriage of justice.”

When can a petition for this be filed?

A petition can be reviewed on the following grounds

  1. Discovery of evidence
  2. An error that is apparent on the record 
  3. Any other sufficient reason. 

Discovery of evidence: The new evidence must be relevant to the case and the evidence should be of such a matter that, it would have altered the judgment of the suit.

An error that is apparent on the record: This expression means an error that is based on clear ignorance or disregards the provision of law. An error is not apparent until it not self-evident and hence requires an examination or argument to establish it.

Any other sufficient reason: Some of the situations where the court exercises this power in a violation of a fundamental right; violation of the principle of natural justice; the mistake of the court; Judgement was obtained by fraud; the court made the order without jurisdiction.

Review Petition and Ayodhya Verdict

In the Ayodhya dispute, there was a total of 14 litigants and 5 civil suits. The Supreme Court clubbed them all and the SC saw this dispute’s core issue as a property dispute between Hindus and Muslims which to be specific is 2.77 acres. Given the weight of evidence is in the favor of Hindus. But the court has not handed over the property to any of the Hindu parties that were litigants involved in the case. They have given the land to the government and directed what to be done for the land with a proper set of rules. The government has to ensure that the Sunni Waqf Board has been allotted with 5 acres of land.

The litigants who can file for a review petition are:

Nirmohi Akhara: In 2010 Allahabad HC divided the land into 3 parts in which 1 part belonged to him being unsatisfied with the judgment as he wanted the entire land he filed an appeal in the SC later the Court overruled the order and held Nirmohi Akhara has no claim on the disputed land and has stated a representative of Akhara can come onboard on the trust that is being formed by the government. According to the press reports no review petition to be filled.

Sunni Central Waqf board main litigant from the Muslim side. The chairman of the Sunni Waqf Board has released a signed statement that the board accepts the verdict and does not plan to file a review petition. But if a member is unhappy with individual capacity a member of the board can file the petition.

Lawyer of Sunni central waqf board stated that he was dissatisfied with the judgment and is considering going for review petition but this statement was on behalf of all India Muslim personal law board as he is the secretary and not as the counsel of Sunni board. 

Shia central waqf board: This board stated as the masjid was constructed by a Shia the dispute should be with them. But the Supreme Court dismissed this claim. This board has stated that they accept the judgment if the masjid is to be constructed anywhere in the Ayodhya. 

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has recently stated that they will be filing a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict. 

History Behind Review Petition

The process to file a review petition is given under Article 137 and within 30 days of judgment, the review petition has to be filed before the same bench of the judge. To accept the review petition is a discretionary right of the court. The principle of Stare Decisis is taken into consideration this means to stand by that which is decided. Review petition laws are found in the United States as well as in the United Kingdom where a judgment can be reviewed within 21 days.

Never mistake law for Justice.

Justice is an ideal law is a tool.

L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Advantages and disadvantages of this concept

 The advantages of a review petition are as follows:

  1. to make a wrong a right
  2. To reconsider once more if there has been a blunder made by any official of the court.
  3. To bring in light new evidence that can change the outcome of the case.
  4. To re-examine the case and overcome miscarriage of justice if occurred.

The disadvantages of the same are:

  1. Wasting the time of the court
  2. People view it as a right and not a discretionary power of the court.
  3. Delay in the justice system.

Justice delayed is Justice denied

William E. Gladstone


Review petition is a fundamental part of the judiciary that helps present miscarriage of justice while keeping in mind that judges are humans as well and a mistake can occur on their watch. Recently there has been a substantial amount of cases that has gone for review petition. Even though chance of overturning the judgement with a review petition are slight more and more litigants in who has been aggrieved by the judgement have been opting for this method.

[i]Article 137 Subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament or any rules made under article 145, the Supreme Court shall have power to review any judgment pronounced or order made by it.

[ii](2002) 4 SCC 388

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