Supreme Court Emphasizes Procedural Compliance in Dismissing Curative Petitions

The current case before the Supreme Court of India involves curative petitions filed by several corporations against the Assam State Electricity Board and others. A curative petition is a type of petition that tries to prevent abuse of the court’s procedure and to correct a serious miscarriage of justice.

The enterprises had filed proceedings under the Interest on Delayed Payments to Small Scale and Ancillary Industrial Undertakings Act, 1993, seeking interest on items delivered to the power board. The trial court decreed the suits, but the high court dismissed them due to non-maintainability. The firms filed review petitions challenging the Supreme Court’s decision, which were also dismissed following an open court session. The firms then filed curative applications, which were denied registration by the Registrar since the review petitions were not dismissed by circulation, as required by the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 and the decision in Rupa Ashok Hurra v. Ashok Hurra and Another. Firms questioned the registers miscellaneous filing application which in SC were treated as appeal. The Supreme Court had to assess whether the Registrar had the authority to deny registration of a curative petition due to noncompliance with the Rules, as well as whether the curative petitions were maintainable under the facts and circumstances of the case. The Supreme Court also designated a prominent counsel as an amicus curia to assist the court in the case.

The Hon’ble Bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sudhansu Dhulia of the Supreme Court held that in our opinion, the course to be followed by the Registry in a proceeding of this nature is contained in Order LV Rule 2 of the 2013 Rules. This was the submission of the learned Amicus Curiae and we quote below the said Rule: – “ORDER LV POWER TO DISPENSE AND INHERENT POWERS . . . 2. An application to be excused from compliance with the requirements of any of the rules shall be addressed, in the first instance, to the Registrar, who shall take instructions ofthe Judge in Chambers thereon and communicate the same to the parties, but, if, in the opinion of the Registrar, it is desirable that the application should be dealt with in open Court, he may direct the applicant to serve the other party with a notice of motion returnable before the Court.  We are of the view that a curative petition arising from an order dismissing a review petition upon hearing in open Court must contain a plea or prayer seeking excuse from compliance of making averment as contained in Order XLVIII Rule 2(1) of the 2013 Rules. The proper course for the Registry on receiving such a petition with a prayer to be excused from the above requirement would be to obtain instructions from the Judge in chambers and thereafter communicate such instructions to the parties. In the second part of Rule 2 it is provided that the Registrar herself can direct the applicant to serve the other party with a notice of motion returnable before the Court while she opines that it is desirable that the application should be dealt with in the open Court. The said part of the Rule would not apply in a case where the applicant seeking to invoke curative jurisdiction approaches this Court after the review petition is dismissed in open court hearing. The applicant for 24 invoking curative jurisdictions, in such a situation, as we have already observed, must file an application praying to be excused from compliance with Rule 2(1) of Order XLVIII of the 2013 Rules and such application shall also contain a request for the matter to be placed before the chamber judge for proper instructions. In other cases, pertaining to curative petitions, in which the review plea is dismissed by circulation, the curative petition has to be circulated first to a Bench of three senior-most Judges of this Court and the Judges who passed the judgment complained of, if available. Thereafter, the course prescribed in sub-clauses (2), (3) and (4) of Rule 4 of Order XLVIII of the 2013 Rules shall be followed as may be applicable.  So far, the present appeal is concerned, this course was not followed when the order was passed declining registration of the curative petition. This order, in our opinion, is contrary to the provisions of the Rules and thus, we set aside the impugned order.  We, however, do not consider it fit to remand the matter to the Registrar as the curative petitions were filed in the year 2020 and substantial time has lapsed since then. We have ourselves gone through the initial order passed in the Special Leave Petition as also the order of the Review Court. We have perused the curative petitions as well. We do not think any case has been made out by the appellant for invoking the curative jurisdiction to take relook into the appellant’s case. Hence, we refrain from entertaining the curative petitions. We do not think any purpose would be served in sending the matter back to the Chamber Judge for instructions in the given circumstances.  We record our appreciation for the assistance given to us by Mr. Ramachandran, learned senior counsel as Amicus Curiae.  The appeal shall stand disposed of in the above terms. This judgment will cover five other miscellaneous applications which are in effect appeals from the order of the Registrar and all these appeals shall stand disposed of in the same terms.

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Written by- Namitha Ramesh

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