Review | Order 47 Rule 1 CPC Can’t Curtail High Court’s Power To Pass Orders Ex Debito Justitiae: Calcutta HC
[25 May 2022] The Calcutta High Court while enumerating upon the vires of power in plenary jurisdiction observed that although Order 47, Rule 1 of the CPC imposes a restriction upon parties to approach the Court for review of an order only on the grounds mentioned therein, however such a provision does not and cannot curtail the High Court’s power to pass orders ex debito justitiae.
A Bench comprising Justice Arijit Banerjee and Justice Kausik Chanda underscored that it has been held repeatedly by the Supreme Court that that the High Court is a court of plenary jurisdiction. Opining that the Court’s inherent power to rectify a wrong cannot be restricted by legislation, the Court observed, “If the High Court feels that it has passed an erroneous order which has caused injustice to a party, in my opinion, nothing prevents the court from reconsidering the order and correcting the same by removing the error. In my opinion, not only the High Court has such power but also the solemn duty to do so. I am of the view that though O. 47 R. 1 puts a restriction on the parties to approach the court for review of an order only on the grounds mentioned therein, but, that provision does not and cannot curtail the High Court’s power to pass orders ex debito justitiae. The High Court’s inherent power to rectify an error, whether of fact or of law, cannot be abridged or restricted by legislation.” The Bench further emphasised, “Justice is a virtue which transcends all barriers and rules or procedures or technicalities of law cannot stand in the way of administration of justice. Law has to bend before justice. Law is not a set of empty and mechanical rules. It is not an end in itself. It is a means to deliver justice. A law that obstructs administration of justice is a malediction, a contradiction in terms. A law that does not ensure justice is as useless as a refrigerator that does not cool, as vain as a fancy vehicle without the engine. If the Court finds that the error pointed out in the review petition was under mistake and the earlier judgment would not have been passed but for an erroneous assumption which, in fact, did not exist and its perpetration has resulted in miscarriage of justice, nothing would preclude the court from rectifying the error.” Seeking aside the impugned order of the Coordinate Bench as well as the quashing the contempt proceedings, the Court observed, “The petitioners are very much in possession of the land which they alleged was acquired. In such circumstances, requiring the State to pay compensation to the petitioners for land which the State never acquired, would be contrary to all canons of law and equity and would amount to serious travesty of justice, apart from causing undue enrichment of the petitioner at the expense of the State exchequer. The order under review was passed on the basis of a factual assumption which has turned out to be incorrect. Ends of justice require that the order under review be recalled and/or set aside.”