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Report No. 162

4.16. Locus standi of aggrieved party to review the order and the need to provide explicitly the extent of the powers of review of CAT and the need to publish it in the newspapers and to circulate it by the concerned department so that persons can intervene in the proceedings by which they will be adversely affected.-

Section 22(3)(f) of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 enunciates the powers of the Tribunal concerning reviewing its decision and provides as follows:-

"(3) A Tribunal shall have, for the purposes of discharging its functions under this Act, the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), while trying a suit, in respect of the following matters, namely,-

(f) reviewing its decisions."

Rule 17 of the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987 prescribes the procedure for making an application for review. Under sub-rule (1) of rule 17, it is provided that no application for review shall be entertained unless it is filed within 30 days from the date of receipt of a copy of the order sought to be reviewed.

In the case of K. Ajit Babu v. Union of India, AIR 1997 SC 3277 the question arose as to whether a review application can be filed by a person not a party to a case but who would be adversely affected by an earlier judgment of the tribunal. The Supreme Court held as follows:-

"4 Often in service matters the judgments rendered either by the tribunal or by the court also affect other persons, who are not parties to the cases. It may help one class of employees and at the same time adversely affect another class of employees. In such circumstances the judgments of the Courts or the Tribunals may not be strictly judgments in personam affecting only to the parties to the cases, they would be judgments in rem. In such a situation, the question arises; what remedy is available to such affected persons who are not parties to a case, yet the decision in such a case adversely affects their rights in the matter of their seniority.

In the present case, the view taken by the Tribunal that the only remedy available to the affected persons is to file a review of the judgment which affects them and not to file a fresh application under section 19 of the Act. Section 22(3)(f) of the Act empowers the Tribunal to review its decisions. Rule 17 of the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure and Rules) (hereinafter referred to as "the Rules") provides that no application for review shall be entertained unless it is filed within 30 days from the date, of receipt of the copy of the order sought to be reviewed.

Ordinarily, right of review is available only to those who are party to a case. However, even if we give wider meaning to the expression "a person feeling aggrieved" occurring in section 22 of the Act whether such person aggrieved can seek review by opening the whole case decided by the Tribunal. The right of review is not a right of appeal where all questions decided are open to challenge. The right of review is possible only on limited grounds, mentioned in Order 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Although strictly speaking the Order 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure may not be applicable to the Tribunals but the principles contained therein surely have to be extended. Otherwise there being no limitation on the power of review it would be an appeal and there would be no certainty of finality of a decision. Besides that, the right of review is available if such an application is filed within the period of limitation. The decision given by the Tribunal, unless reviewed or appealed against, attains finality.

If such a power to review is permitted, no decision is final, as the decision would be subject to review at any time at the instance of party feeling adversely affected by the said decision. A party in whose favour a decision has been given cannot monitor the case for all times to come. Public policy demands that there should be end to law suits and if the view of the Tribunal is accepted the proceedings in a case will never come to an end. We, therefore, find that a right of review is available to the aggrieved persons on restricted ground mentioned in Order 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure and if filed within the period of limitation."

In a recent decision in the case of Sri Gopa Bandhu Biswal v. Krishna Chandra Mohanty, 1998 (3) SCALE 226, the decision in K. Ajit Balm, (supra) was also referred to and it was observed as regards third parties are concerned as follows:-

"10 We will assume for the time being that the applicants are persons aggrieved. Even so, the question is whether they can have a judgment which has attained finality by virtue of an order of this Court, set aside in review. There is no doubt that as between the parties to the main judgment, the judgment is final and binding.

The respondents, State of Orissa and Union of India, are therefore, bound to give effect to the judgment of the Tribunal in T.A. No. 1 of 1989 in the case of Gopa-Bandhu Biswal. if this is so, can a third party by filing a review petition get that same judgment reviewed and obtain an order that Gopa-Bandhu Biswal is not entitled to the benefits of the directions contained in the main judgment since that judgment is now set aside? In our view this is wholly impermissible.

It will lead to reopening a matter which has attained finality by virtue of an order of this court. The applicants, even if they are persons aggrieved, do not have, in the present case, a right of review under any part of Order 41, rule 1. Even under Order 47, rule 1(2), the party not appealing from a decree or order can apply for review only on grounds other than the grounds of appeal which were before the appellate court, and during the pendency of the appeal.

In the present case all the grounds which were urged in review were, in fact urged before the Tribunal at the time when the tribunal decided the main application and they were also urged by the petitioner in the Special Leave Petition which was filed before this court. The Special Leave Petition has been dismissed. The same grounds cannot be again urged by way of a review petition by another party who was not a party in the main petition.

11. According to the applicants certain documents though produced before the Tribunal were not noticed by the Tribunal in deciding the main matter. Even so once a judgment of a tribunal has attained finality, it cannot be reopened after the Special Leave Petition against that judgment has been dismissed. The only remedy for a person who wants to challenge that judgment is to file a separate application before the Tribunal in his own case and persuade the tribunal either to refer the question to a larger Bench or, if the tribunal prefers to follow its earlier decision, to file an appeal before the Tribunal's judgment and have the Tribunal's judgment set aside in appeal. Review is not an available remedy.

12. Undoubtedly when the tribunal interprets Service Rules and Regulations, the interpretation so given may affect other members of that service past, present or future. One can understand a wider meaning in this context being given to the phrase "person aggrieved", thus enlarging the right of persons to intervene at the hearing before the Tribunal, or in appeal, or for filing a review petition. Nevertheless, this right must be exercised at the appropriate time and in accordance with law.

A review petition must be within the scope of section 22(3)(f) of the Administrative Tribunals Act read with Order 47 Rule and must comply with the rules framed under the Administrative Tribunals Act. The present review applications are not within the principles laid down in Order 47, rule 1. They also do not comply with the relevant rules. Rule 17 of the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987 prescribes, inter alia that no application for review shall be entertained unless it is filed within 30 days from the date of the receipt of the copy of the Order sought to be reviewed."

16. If the tribunal decides to follow its earlier judgment the respondents in these applications can file petitions for leave to appeal if they so desire; and any other person aggrieved may also, with the leave of the court, apply for special leave to file an appeal. In the event of the Tribunal coming to a conclusion that its earlier judgment requires re-consideration, the tribunal can refer the question to a larger-Bench. In either case the persons aggrieved can apply and intervene to put forward their point of view."

From the aforesaid decisions of the Supreme Court, it is evident that:-

(a) ordinarily a right of review is available only to those who are party to a case,

(b) in circumstances where the judgments may also affect other persons, who are not parties to the cases, such judgments being strictly not judgments in personam affecting only the parties to the cases, a right of review should be available to the aggrieved persons with the leave of the Tribunal on the restricted grounds mentioned in Order 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure and above all if an application is filed within the period of limitation,

(c) the right of review of the decisions of the tribunal or court should be available only on limited grounds mentioned in Order 47, C.P.C. and the principles contained therein have to be extended to the tribunal.

In view of the above, the Commission is of the considered opinion that section 22(3)(f) of the Act should be amended to explicitly incorporate the right of review to an aggrieved person (who is not a party to the proceedings) with the leave of the Tribunal but restricted to the ground mentioned in Order 47, C.P.C., so far as the parties are concerned, the right of review is already secured by the said provision.

4.17. There should be a reform of the administrative justice system in order to ensure better standards of independence, accessibility/openness, expertise, representativeness, efficiency and accountability.



Review of functioning of Central Administrative Tribunal - Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal and Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal Back




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