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Writ of Certiorari: Supreme Court reiterates HC’s writ jurisdiction

Writ of Certiorari: Supreme Court reiterates HC’s writ jurisdiction
Supreme Court/Photo: Anil Shakya
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The Supreme Court on 12th September reiterated the principle that a High Court can issue a writ of Certiorari correcting the judicial excesses of a Tribunal only when the Tribunal is yet to conclude its proceedings. A Certiorari writ jurisdiction is not an appellate power, and for the same reason, court cannot review or reweigh evidence in such a case.

The bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph, in an appeal against the Orissa High Court judgment dismissing the writ application challenging the Award passed by the Labour Court in Bhubaneswar.

The apex court in General Manager, Electrical Rengali Hydro Electric Project, Orissa vs. Sri Giridhari Sahu said, “The jurisdiction to issue writ of Certiorari is supervisory and not appellate. The Court considering a writ application of Certiorari will not don the cap of an Appellate Court. It will not reappreciate evidence.”

Court also laid down the following observations:

  1. Once a decision is rendered by a body amenable to Certiorari jurisdiction, certiorari could be issued when a jurisdictional error is clearly established. The jurisdictional error may be from failure to observe the limits of its jurisdiction.
  2. The body whose decision which comes under attack may decide a collateral fact which is also a jurisdictional fact and assume jurisdiction. Such a finding of fact is not immune from being interfered with by a Writ of Certiorari. As far as the finding of fact which is one within the jurisdiction of the court, it is ordinarily a matter ‘off bounds’ for the writ court. This is for the reason that a body which has jurisdiction to decide the matter has the jurisdiction to decide it correctly or wrongly. It would become a mere error and that too an error of fact. However, gross it may amount to, it does not amount to an error of law.
  3. An error of law which becomes vulnerable to judicial scrutiny by way of Certiorari must also one which is apparent on the face of the record.
  4. A finding of fact which is not supported by any evidence would be perverse and in fact would constitute an error of law enabling the writ court to interfere. It is also to be noticed that if the overwhelming weight of the evidence does not support the finding, it would render the decision amenable to certiorari jurisdiction.

Court however also pointed out that in case of Writ of Certiorari, no doubt, the Court also bears in mind that it is not axiomatic, or that upon a finding of illegality, a court is bound to interfere. The court may still exercise its discretion and decline jurisdiction unless there is manifest injustice.

Thus finding such manifest injustice in the High Court’s order, Court allowed appeal, also setting aside the Labour Court’s award.

–India Legal Bureau

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