Judgment Summarized by Delhi Law Academy – Jaipur
Challenge in this appeal is to the order passed by a learned Single Judge of the Gauhati High Court on an application for review under Order XLVII Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. The application was filed by respondent No. 1 for review of the judgment and order dated 21.8.2002 passed in Second Appeal.
One Kalipada Das , (respondent No. 1 in the review petition) the original owner of the suit property, entered into an oral agreement with the appellant on 19.8.1982 and on the same day, the appellant paid a sum of Rs. 14,000/- towards the agreed consideration of Rs. 46,000/- to sell his portion of the suit property, with a dwelling house standing thereon. The possession of the suit property was also handed over to the appellant, with a promise that a sale deed would be executed in favour of the appellant within three years. Again on 23.8.1982 the appellant paid a further sum of Rs. 31,000. In essence Rs. 45,000 was paid leaving only a nominal sum of Rs. 1,000 to be paid at the time of execution of the sale deed.
As the time for execution of the sale deed was nearing, the appellant learnt that the said Kalipada Das with a view to defeat the appellant’s right was trying to sell part of the property to one Chunnilal Deb and to mortgage part of the suit property with the Housing Board of Karimganj. He started openly threatening the appellant to dis-possess him of the suit property.
The appellant paid the balance amount of Rs.1,000 and asked Kalipada to execute the registered sale deed in his favour in respect of the property. In view of threatened dispossession, the appellant with a view to protect his possession of the suit property filed Title Suit No. 201/85 inter alia, seeking confirmation of possession over the suit land and premises, and for permanent injunction restraining Kalipada Das from dispossessing the appellant and from selling the suit property to any third party. In the said plaint the appellant exclusively reserved his right to file another suit for getting the sale deed executed.
By an interim order Kalipada Das was directed to maintain status quo in respect of the suit property. The appellant filed another suit being Title Suit No. 1 of 1986 for specific performance of the agreement for sale and for the execution of the proper deed of sale in respect of the suit property.
During the pendency of the said proceedings, Kalipada Das executed and registered a sale deed in favour of one Usha Rani Banik, defendant No. 3 – Respondent No. 1 herein, while possession of the suit property still remained with the appellant. Immediately thereafter, the appellant filed Title Suit No. 2 of 1987 for cancellation of the said sale deed as the same was illegal, fraudulent and void. The respondent No. 1 also filed a suit being Title Suit No. 22/87 for declaration of her title to the suit property on the basis of the sale deed.
Title Suit No. 2 of 1987 filed by the appellant was decreed whereby the sale deed executed in favour of the Respondent No. 1 was cancelled. Against the said decree, the respondent No. 1 preferred an appeal before learned District Judge, Karimganj, which was allowed setting aside the decree passed in Title Suit No. 2 of 1987. The appellant preferred Second Appeal No. 12 of 1993 before the High Court. The Second Appeal was allowed restoring the judgment and decree passed in Title Suit No. 2 of 1987.
By the impugned order as noted above the High Court held that no leave under Order II Rule 2 CPC was obtained by the respondent in Title Suit No. 201 of 1985. Therefore, the Title Suit No. 1 of 1986 filed for specific performance of the agreement for sale of land is hit by the provisions of Order II CPC. According to the High Court this is a case where review was permissible on account of some mistake or error apparent on the face of the record.
In order to appreciate the scope of a review, Section 114 of the CPC has to be read, but this section does not even adumbrate the ambit of interference expected of the Court since it merely states that it “may make such order thereon as it thinks fit.” The parameters are prescribed in Order XLVII of the CPC and for the purposes of this lis, permit the defendant to press for a rehearing “on account of some mistake or error apparent on the face of the records or for any other sufficient reason”.
The former part of the rule deals with a situation attributable to the applicant, and the latter to a jural action which is manifestly incorrect or on which two conclusions are not possible. Neither of them postulates a rehearing of the dispute because a party had not highlighted all the aspects of the case or could perhaps have argued them more forcefully and/or cited binding precedents to the Court and thereby enjoyed a favourable verdict. This is amply evident from the explanation in Rule 1 of Order XLVII which states that the fact that the decision on a question of law on which the judgment of the Court is based has been reversed or modified by the subsequent decision of a superior Court in any other case, shall not be a ground for the review of such judgment. Where the order in question is appealable the aggrieved party has adequate and efficacious remedy and the Court should exercise the power to review its order with the greatest circumspection.
This Court in Thungabhadra Industries Ltd. v. Andhra Pradesh [1964 SC] held:
There is a distinction which is real, though it might not always be capable of exposition, between a mere erroneous decision and a decision which could be characterized as vitiated by “error apparent”. A review is by no means an appeal in disguise whereby an erroneous decision is reheard and corrected, but lies only for patent error. Where without any elaborate argument one could point to the error and say here is a substantial point of law which states one in the face and there could reasonably be no two opinions entertained about it, a clear case of error apparent on the face of the record would be made out.
A perusal of the Order XLVII, Rule 1 show that review of a judgment or an order could be sought : (a) from the discovery of new and important matters or evidence which after the exercise of due diligence was not within the knowledge of the applicant; (b) such important matter or evidence could not be produced by the applicant at the time when the decree was passed or order made; and (c) on account of some mistake or error apparent on the face of record or any other sufficient reason.
An error which has to be established by a long drawn process of reasoning on points where there may conceivably be two opinions can hardly be said to be an error apparent on the face of record. Where an alleged error is far from self-evident and if it can be established, it has to be established, by lengthy and complicated arguments, such an error cannot be cured by a writ of certiorari as per rules governing powers of the superior Court to issue such writ.
Observations of this Court in the case of Parsion Devi v. Sumiri Devi:
Under Order XLVII, Rule 1, CPC a judgment may be open to review inter alia, if there is a mistake or an error apparent on the face of the record. An error which is not self evident and has to be detected by a process of reasoning, can hardly be said to be an error apparent on the face of the record justifying the Court to exercise its power of review under Order XLVII, Rule 1, CPC. In exercise of the jurisdiction under Order XLVII, Rule 1, CPC it is not permissible for an erroneous decision to be reheard and corrected. A review petition, it must be remembered has a limited purpose and cannot be allowed to be an appeal in disguise.
When the aforesaid principles are applied to the facts of the present case, the position is clear that the High Court had clearly fallen in error in accepting the prayer for review. First, the crucial question which according to the High Court was necessary to be adjudicated was the question whether the Title Suit No. 201 of 1985 was barred by the provisions of Order II Rule 2 CPC. This question arose in Title Suit No. 1 of 1986 and was irrelevant so far as Title Suit No. 2 of 1987 is concerned. Additionally, the High Court erred in holding that no prayer for leave under Order II Rule 2 CPC was made in the plaint in Title Suit No. 201 of 1985. The claim of oral agreement dated 19.8.1982 is mentioned in para 7 of the plaint, and at the end of the plaint it has been noted that right to institute suit for specific performance was reserved. That being so the High Court has erroneously held about infraction of Order II Rule 2 CPC. This was not a case where Order II of Rule 2 CPC has any application.
The judgment of the High Court in review application is set aside.