State Of Telangana vs Mohd. Abdul Qasim(D) 2024 INSC 310 – CPC – Review Jurisdiction- Environment – Forest Act

Code Of Civil Procedure, 1908; Section 114 and Order XLVII Rule 1 – Mistake or error apparent on the face of record would debar the court from acting as an appellate court in disguise, by indulging in a re-hearing. A decision, however erroneous, can never be a factor for review, but can only be corrected in appeal. Such a mistake or error should be self-evident on the face of record. The error should be grave enough to be identified on a mere cursory look, and an omission so glaring that it requires interference in the form of a review. Being a creature of the statute, there is absolutely no room for a fresh hearing. The court has got no role to involve itself in the process of adjudication for a second time. Instead, it has to merely examine the existence of an apparent mistake or error. Even when two views are possible, the court shall not indulge itself by going into the merits- The material produced, at this stage, should be of such pristine quality which, if taken into consideration, would have the logical effect of reversing the judgment. Order XLVII Rule 1 of the CPC, 1908 indicates that power of review can be exercised by courts, in three different situations, but these occasions ought to be read in an analogous manner. In other words, they should be read in a manner to mean that a restrictive power has been conferred- Order XLVII Rule 1(c) -A subsequent event per se cannot form the basis of a review- The important matter or evidence produced must have been available at the time when the decree was passed. This is a matter of rule. On a very rare occasion, an exception can be carved out. Such an exception can only be exercised when the said matter or evidence is of unimpeachable quality. It is not only a new matter or evidence that should be taken into consideration, but it should also be an important one- While exercising the said power, the court has to first check the evidentiary value of such discovery, including the circumstances under which it emanated, particularly when it inherently lacks jurisdiction or the evidence cannot be made admissible in law and therefore, is not relevant. In such a circumstance, there is no question of proceeding further in deciding the review application. -The words “as it thinks fit” cannot be interpreted to mean anything beyond what is conferred under Order XLVII Rule 1- Section 114 has to be read along with Order XLVII Rule 1. While they are to be read together, Section 114 is more procedural, whereas Order XLVII Rule 1 is substantially substantive- The words “due diligence”, though one of fact, places onus heavily on the one who seeks a review. It has to be seen from the point of view of a reasonable and prudent man. Though an element of flexibility is given to any evidence or matter on its discovery, it has to be one which was not available to the court 16 earlier. It could not have been produced despite due diligence, meaning thereby that it should have been available and, therefore, in existence at least at the time of passing the decree- The words “for any other sufficient reason” ought to be read in conjunction with the earlier two categories reiterating the scope. Being a judicial discretion, it has to be exercised with circumspection and on rare occasions. It is a power to be exercised by way of an exception, subject to the rigours of the provision- Caselaws discussed (Para 18-25)

Constitution of India, 1950; Part III and Part IV– Part III and Part IV of the Constitution are like two wheels of a chariot, complementing each other in their commitment to a social change and development. They form the core of nation building and a progressive society.

Environmental Laws –The approach required to be adopted by the courts where the onus is on the violator to prove that there is no environmental degradation- There is a constitutional duty enjoined upon every court to protect and preserve the environment. Courts will have to apply the principle of parens patriae in light of the constitutional mandate enshrined in Articles 48A, 51A, 21, 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India, 1950. Therefore, the burden of proof lies on a developer or industrialist and also on the State in a given case to prove that there is no such degradation -Not being an adversarial litigation, the court shall utilise all possible resources, including scientific inventions, in its endeavour to preserve the environment. While adopting an ecocentric approach, the concept of inter- related existence has to be kept in mind. A narrow or pedantic approach should be avoided. While considering the economic benefits, the invisible value and benefits provided by the forests shall also be factored into. There has to be an inclusive approach, which should be society centric, meaning thereby that all species should co-exist with minimum collateral damage. The effort is to minimise the damage to the environment, even in a case where the need for human development is indispensable. While having a pragmatic and practical approach, courts will have to weigh in the relevant factors and thus, perform a balancing act. (Para 38-39)

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