Injustice Anywhere Is A Threat To Justice Everywhere - SLP In India
What is meant by a special leave petition?Special leave petition (SLP) means that an individual takes special
permission to be heard in appeal against any high court/tribunal verdict.
Thus it is not an appeal but a petition filed for an appeal.
So after an SLP is filed, the Supreme Court may hear the matter and if it deems
fit, it may grant the ‘leave’ and convert that petition into an ‘appeal’.
SLP shall then become an Appeal and the Court will hear the matter and pass a
Where is the provision mentioned for a Special Leave Petition?Under Article 136, the Constitution of India gives power to the Supreme
Court to grant special permission or leave to an aggrieved party to appeal
against an orderor judgement or decree passed in any of the lower courts or
tribunals in India.
In which circumstances can an SLP be filed?
# It can be filed against any judgment or decree or order of any high court
/tribunal in the territory of India, or
# It can be filed in case a high court refuses to grant the certificate of
fitness for appeal to Supreme Court of India.
In which circumstances can an SLP be entertained?The Honorable Supreme Court accepts SLP in those cases where there is a
question of law involved not a question of fact. Moreover if it is a question
off act then there should be an emergence of fact which is pivotal in the case
and could not be discover without due diligence and the petitioner feels that
the high court has not applied the law with due care and caution.
The case of Pritam Singh v. State, (AIR 1950 SC 169:1950 SCR 453)has had a
huge importance in understanding the SLP.
This was an appeal by special leave from a judgment and order of the High
Court of Judicature for the Province of East Punjab at Simla dated the 23rd
November, 1949, in Criminal Appeal No. 367 of 1949 upholding the conviction of
the appellant on a charge of murder and confirming a sentence of death passed on
him by the Sessions Judge of Ferozepore. On appeal, the Punjab High Court
dismissed the appeal and upheld the sentence. The counsel for the special leave
pleaded that once an appeal had been admitted by special leave, the entire case
was at large and the appellant had the freedom to contest all the findings of
the High Court or the trial Court.
The SC found this totally unwarranted. The SC actually explained how the
discretionary powers will be exercised in granting special leave to appeal. This
has actually gone on to define SLP. The appeal was subsequently dismissed.
In normal circumstances, the SC does not interfere with an order of
acquittal by the High Court as has been exemplified in the case of State of AP v
the P Anjaneyulu (AIR 1982, SC 1184).
In exceptional situation only, the SC allows an appellant to raise fresh
pleas under special leave. As, in the case of CCE v National Tobacco Co of India
Ltd. (AIR 1972 SC 2563), where the authority does not have any jurisdiction
under the rules to issue the impugned notice the SC allowed a special leave.
However, a new plea requiring investigations of facts is not generally permitted
at this level. Once again, in a situation, where an interpretation of a statute
is the basis of a new plea, leave petition may be permitted. In the case of Laxmi
& Co. v Anand R Deshpande, (AIR 1973, SC 171), it was held that “the court takes
notice of subsequent events while hearing appeals under Article 136 to shorten
litigation, to preserve the rights of both the parties and to subserve the ends
Time Limit To File SLP
It can be filed against any judgment of a high court within 90 days from the
date of judgment, or
It can be filed within 60 days against the order of a high court refusing to
grant the certificate of fitness for appeal to Supreme Court.
Who Can File SLPAny aggrieved party can file an SLP against the judgment or order of
refusal of grant of certificate.
Through SLP, an aggrieved party can appeal to the Supreme Court against
any judgment passed by any lower court or tribunal. This leave is granted when
the case involves a question of law. Mere errors of fact, mis-appreciation of
evidence or even findings of fact arrived at wrongly are not grounds of appeal
before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is only concerned with question of
law i.e. if the law was correctly applied, whether the interpretation of law was
in accordance with the settled principles of law etc.
The aggrieved party or the petitioner filing SLP has to give a brief
synopsis of the facts and issues presented in the case along with a list of
dates specifying the chronology of events pertinent to the judgment. Along with
this, the petitioner has to formulate questions of law to appeal against the
judgment. These questions should pertain to laws relevant to the general public
Once registered and presented in the Supreme Court, the petitioner will
get a hearing before the Court. Subsequently, depending on the merits of the
case, the Supreme Court will issue a notice to the opposite parties who will
then file a counter affidavit stating their views. It’s at this point that the
Supreme Court will decide whether to grant leave to the petitioner or not. If
the Court grants leave, the case is then converted into a civil appeal and will
be argued afresh in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court can rescind or revoke the earlier judgement, modify
it or allow it. The Court can also send the case back to the relevant lower
court for fresh adjudication in light of principles laid down by it or on
account of any issues missed out by the lower court.
Article 133–136 of the Constitution of India defines the appellate
jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Article 133 provides for civil appeals from
orders of the High Court, Article 134 provides for criminal appeals and Article
136 provides for special leave petition. If a case does not fall within Article
133 or Article 134 then under
Article 136 the Supreme Court may be moved and a special permission may
sought to grant leave to appeal.
Appeal to Supreme Court is not a matter of right but it is matter of
privilege which only the Supreme Court will grant to any individual if there
exists an important constitutional or legal issue involved. Appeals are
regulated by the Constitution of India and Supreme Court Rules, 2013.
According to Article 141 of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court judgement is declared as law of the land and is binding on all courts inIndia.
What is “special” about SLP?What is so special about article 136 that distinguishes it from the
general appeals listed in 132-135 are as follows.
First, it is not just restricted to appeals against judgments, decrees
and final orders of the High court but it can also be granted against the
judgments of lower courts.
The second thing to note is that article 136 is fluid and flexible
compared to articles132-135which deals with appeals. What is basically meant
is that the judgments, decrees or orders do not have to be final in nature and
appeals are allowed even against interlocutory and interim judgments and they
may be from cases or matters of either criminal or civil nature or otherwise.
However, in the normal course, it is generally expected that the
appellant has exhausted all other recourses the law provides.Moreover, there
may not be any law which limits the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court when it
comes to article 136.
Rules about Special Leave PetitionIn leading case laws the following rules have been established.
By virtue of this article, we can grant special leave in cases of civil,
criminal, Income tax related cases, cases from various tribunals and any variety
of other cases
SLP can also be filed when a High Court does not approve fitness for
appeal to Supreme Court.
Ordinarily, a private party other than the complainant should not be
permitted to appeal.
In the case of Kunhayammed v State of Kerala, AIR 2000 SC 2587, the
discussion was about the exercise of the jurisdiction under article 136 and if
it consisted of granting of the SLP and subsequently hearing the appeal. The
court has a choice to grant the SLP and if the court decides to not grant it on
its findings then the appellate jurisdiction of the court does not come into
existence. However, mere dismissal of the SLP petition does not mean that there
is res judicata, it merely means that the case was not fit for the grant of SLP
and it is open to the aggrieved party to approach the concerned court for review
under article 226.
Kapil Chandna Advocate
Practicing Advocate at Supreme Court of India
Law Article in India
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