Can a high court entertain a plea seeking review of its judgement after the Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal against the verdict?

This tricky question, on which the apex court has passed conflicting orders, has now been referred to a larger bench by the Supreme Court to put divergent opinions of two-judge benches on the issue to an end.

A bench of K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said in view of the conflicting opinions expressed by various benches earlier, the matter has to be decided by a larger bench for a definite answer.

“We notice considerable arguments are being raised before this court as well as before various high courts in the country on the maintainability of review petitions after the disposal of the special leave petition without granting leave but with or without assigning reasons on which conflicting views are also being expressed by the two-judge benches of this court,” the bench said.

“In order to resolve these conflicts and for proper guidance to the high courts, we feel it would be appropriate that this matter be referred to a larger bench for an authoritative pronouncement,” the bench said.

The bench said the matter needs to be decided as large number of review petitions are being filed by parties even after dismissal of the SLPs by apex court and depending upon the outcome of the review petitions, SLPs are again being filed before it.

While referring the tricky question to a larger bench, the bench of justices Radhakrishnan and Misra pointed out that in Palani Raman Catholic Mission versus S Bagirathi Ammal case of 2009, the apex Court had taken the view that review petition can be filed if no leave has been granted to file an appeal to the apex court.

And if there is no appeal in the superior court, the review can be preferred in the high court, the 2009 ruling of the apex court had held.

Again in the case of Bhakra Beas Management Board versus Krishan Kumar Vij of 2010, the Supreme Court had held that the mere dismissal of a special leave petition at a preliminary stage does not constitute a binding precedent, and any order passed by the high court placing reliance on earlier order, can still be challenged subsequently, pointed out the bench of justices Radhakrishnan and Misra.

But a different note was struck by the apex court in Gangadhara Palo versus Revenue Divisional Officer case of 2011 in which it said that when the apex court dismisses appeal, the high court verdict merges into the judgement of the apex court and there can be no review of a judgement which does not even exist.

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