Meghalaya High Court Affirms Limitations of Review Petitions in Landmark Decision

Meghalaya High Court reinforces review petition boundaries, emphasizes judgments' finality, dismissing appeal disguised as review.

The Meghalaya High Court recently made a significant ruling regarding the limitations of review petitions in legal proceedings. The court dismissed a Review Petition in the case titled Commissioner of CGST vs. Manaksia Ltd [Review Petition No.3/2024], affirming that a review application cannot be utilized as an "appeal in disguise."

In a bench led by Chief Justice S. Vaidyanathan and Justice H.S. Thangkhiew, the court delivered its verdict concerning a Review Petition filed against an order issued by the Commissioner of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST).

The petitioner had initially sought relief from the Meghalaya High Court, but their plea was rejected on September 23, 2021. Following this, the petitioner took the matter to the Supreme Court, which, on September 4, 2023, granted permission to file a review petition before the high court.

During the proceedings, the petitioner argued that since the Supreme Court had authorized the review, the High Court had the power to rectify any errors in the case. However, the respondent's counsel countered this argument by referencing the statutory provisions governing appeals and reviews in tax matters, particularly Section 35L of the Central Excise Act, 1944, which limits appeals to the Supreme Court, thus restricting the jurisdiction of the High Court.

After considering the arguments presented by both sides, the bench concluded that the petitioner's legal recourse was solely before the Supreme Court as per the provisions of the Central Excise Act. Even if Order 47 Rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Code were to apply, the review petition would not be maintainable.

The court emphasized that the grounds cited in the review petition exceeded the scope of Order 47 Rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Code and the established legal precedents set by the Supreme Court and High Court. It reiterated that a review petition cannot be utilized to rewrite a judgment, as the review jurisdiction does not permit such actions.

The court summarized the key points of the judgment as follows:

  • A judgment may be subject to review if there is a mistake or error apparent on the face of the record.
  • A judgment pronounced by the Court is final, and departure from this principle is warranted only under compelling circumstances.
  • Errors that require a process of reasoning to detect cannot be considered as errors apparent on the face of the record justifying the exercise of the power of review.
  • Under Order 47, Rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Code, it is impermissible to rehear and correct an erroneous decision.
  • A Review Petition has a specific purpose and cannot be treated as an appeal in disguise.
  • Issues that have already been addressed and decided cannot be reargued through a review petition.
  • An error apparent on the face of the record should be evident upon a mere glance at the record without requiring extensive reasoning.
  • Changes in law or subsequent judgments cannot alone be grounds for review.

In light of these principles, the Meghalaya High Court dismissed the Review Petition, reiterating the limitations of review jurisdiction and emphasizing the finality of judgments once pronounced.