Supreme Court of India
Major S. S. Khanna vs Brig. F.J. Dillon on 14 August, 1963
Held :The High Court was right in setting aside the order
passed by the trial Judge and in holding that without
investigation as to the respective claims made by the
parties by their pleadings on the matters in dispute, the
suits could not be held as not maintainable. The decision
of the trial Judge affected the rights and obligations of
the parties directly. It was the decision on an issue
relating to the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the
suit filed by the respondent. The decision attracted cl.
(c) of s. 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
Per Sarkar and Shah, JJ. The expression "case" is a word of
comprehensive import. It includes civil proceedings other
than suits and is not restricted by anything contained in s.
115 to the entirety of the proceedings in a civil court. To
interpret the expression "case"as an entire proceeding
only and not a part of the proceedingwould be to impose
an unwarranted restriction on the exerciseof powers of
superintendence and may result in certain cases in denying
relief to the aggrieved litigant where it is most needed and
may result in the 'perpetration of gross injustice.
The High Court is not obliged to exercise its jurisdiction
when a case is decided by a subordinate court and the
conditions in cls. (a), (b) or (c) of s. 115 are satisfied.
Exercise of the jurisdiction is discretionary and the High
Court is not bound to interfere merely because the
conditions are satisfied. The interlocutory character of
the order, existence of another remedy to the aggrieved
party by way of appeal from the ultimate order or decree in
the proceeding or by a suit, and the general equities of the
case being served by the order made are all matters to be
taken into account in considering whether the High Court
even in cases where the conditions which attract the
jurisdiction exist, should exercise its jurisdiction.
Revisional jurisdiction of the high Court may be exercised
irrespective of the question whether ;an appeal lies thereto
from the ultimate decree or order passed in the suit or not.
The expression "in which no appeal lies thereto" does not
mean that it excludes the exercise of the revisional
jurisdiction when an appeal may be competent to the High
Court from the final order. The use of the word "in" is not
intended to distinguish orders passed in proceedings not
subject to appeal from the final adjudication, from those
from which no appeal lies. If an appeal lies against the
adjudication directly to the -High Court or to another court
from the decision of which an appeal lies to the High Court,
it has no power to exercise its revisional jurisdiction
against the adjudication, but where the decision itself is
not appealable to the High Court directly or indirectly,
exercise of the revisional jurisdiction by the High Court
would not be deemed excluded.
Under Or. 14, r. 2, where issues both of law and fact arise
in the same suit and the court is of the opinion that the
case ,or part thereof could be disposed of on the issues of
law only, it shall try those issues first, and for that
purpose, may, if it thinks fit, postpone settlement of the
issues of fact until after the issues of law have been
determined. The jurisdiction to try issues of law apart
from the issues of fact may be exercised only where in the
opinion of the Court the whole suit may be disposed of on
the issues of law alone, but the Code of Civil Procedure
confers no jurisdiction upon the court to try a suit on
mixed issues of law and fact as preliminary issues.
Normally, all issues in the suit should be tried by the
Court; not to do so ,especially when the decision on issues
even of law depends upon the decision of issues of fact,
would result in a lop-sided trial of the suit.
Per, Hidayatullah, J.-A decision of the subordinate Court is
amenable to the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court
unless that jurisdiction is clearly barred by a special law
or an appeal lies therefrom. The expression "in which no
appeal lies" does not speak' of the Appeal "under the Code".
The expression is a general one and applies to every
decision of a court subordinate to the High Court in which
no appeal lies, whether under the Code or otherwise.
The decision of the trial Judge was erroneous because he
denied himself the jurisdiction of holding that the suits were
not maintainable. The fact that he did not dismiss the
suits and did not draw up decrees for that purpose, was
itself an exercise of jurisdiction with material
irregularity, if not also illegality. In so far as the
parties were concerned, the suits were no longer live suits
as the decision had put an end to them.
The word "case" in s. 115 does not mean a concluded suit or
proceeding but each decision which terminates a part of the
controversy involving a matter of jurisdiction. Where no
question of jurisdiction is involved, the court's decision
cannot be impugned under s. 115 because the court has
jurisdiction to decide wrongly as well as rightly.
Supreme Court of India
D.L.F. Housing & Construction ... vs Sarup Singh And Others on 12 September, 1969
The position thus seems to. be firmly established that while exercising the jurisdiction under s. 115, it is not competent to the High Court to correct errors of fact however gross or even errors of law unless the said errors have relation to the jurisdiction of the Court to try the dispute itself. Clauses (a) and (b) of this section on their plain reading quite clearly do not cover the present case. was not contended, as indeed it was not possible to contend, that the learned Additional District Judge had either exercised a jurisdiction not vested in him by law or had failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested in him, in recording the order that the proceedings under reference be stayed till the decision of the appeal by the High Court in the proceedings for specific performance of the agreement in question. Clause (c) also does not seem to apply to the case in hand. The words "illegally" and "with material irregularity" as used in this clause do not cover either errors of fact or of law; they do not refer to the decision arrived at but merely to the manner in which it is reached. The errors contemplated by this clause may, in our view, relate either to breach of some provision of law or to material defects of procedure affecting the ultimate decision, and not to. errors either of fact or of law, after the prescribed formalities have been complied with. The High Court does not seem to have adverted to the limitation imposed on its power under s. 115 of the Code. Merely because the High Court would have felt inclined, had it dealt with the matter initially, to come to a different conclusion on the question of continuing stay of the reference proceedings pending decision of the appeal, could hardly justify interference on revision under s. 115 of the Code when there. was no illegality or material irregularity committed by the learned Additional District Judge in his manner of dealing with this question.