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M/s. Hindustan Ispat Private Limited Vs. The Commercial Tax Officer, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad and Others - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberReview WPMP No. 31587 of 2014 in W.P. No. 16279 of 2014
Judge
AppellantM/s. Hindustan Ispat Private Limited
RespondentThe Commercial Tax Officer, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad and Others
Excerpt:
andhra pradesh vat act, 2005 €“ constitution of india, 1950 €“ article 226 €“ alternative remedy €“ exercise of discretion €“ petitioner filed petition for issuance of writ to declare the action of the respondent in passing the assessment order under the act, as arbitrary, illegal and in violation of principles of natural justice €“ petition was dismissed as not maintainable €“ petitioner filed slp (civil) contending that high court had remitted the matter to the assessing authority €“ high court had remitted the matter to supreme court and granted liberty to petitioner to file an application for review €“ whether the order of which review was sought suffered from an error apparent.....ramesh ranganathan, j. this petition is filed seeking review of the order passed by the division bench of this court in w.p. no.16279 of 2014 dated 16.06.2014. in w.p. no.16729 of 2014, the petitioner had sought a writ of mandamus to declare the action of the respondent, in passing the assessment order dated 06.05.2014 for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 under the a.p. vat act, as arbitrary, illegal and in violation of principles of natural justice; to declare that, under section 13 of the a.p. vat act for the claim of input tax credit, the petitioner should produce only a valid tax invoice issued by the selling dealer as illegal; and to declare that the petitioner was entitled to input tax credit since they had purchased iron and steel from registered vat dealers who were assessees on the.....
Judgment:

Ramesh Ranganathan, J.

This petition is filed seeking review of the order passed by the Division bench of this Court in W.P. No.16279 of 2014 dated 16.06.2014. In W.P. No.16729 of 2014, the petitioner had sought a writ of mandamus to declare the action of the respondent, in passing the assessment order dated 06.05.2014 for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 under the A.P. VAT Act, as arbitrary, illegal and in violation of principles of natural justice; to declare that, under Section 13 of the A.P. VAT Act for the claim of input tax credit, the petitioner should produce only a valid tax invoice issued by the selling dealer as illegal; and to declare that the petitioner was entitled to input tax credit since they had purchased iron and steel from registered VAT dealers who were assessees on the rolls of the Commercial Taxes Department, and were in possession of valid tax invoices.

In the order under review, the Division Bench observed that the assessment order was appealable and hence the petitioner could raise all the points, raised in the Writ Petition, before the Appellate Forum. The Writ Petition was dismissed as not maintainable. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner filed SLP (Civil) No.15911 of 2014 contending that, in similar circumstances, the High Court had remitted the matter to the assessing authority. Without expressing any opinion on the contention that, in similar matters the High Court had remitted the matter to the assessing officer, the Supreme Court, by its order dated 17.07.2014, granted liberty to the petitioner to file an application for review within two weeks, if so advised. Pursuant thereto the present review petition is filed.

Sri E. Manohar, Learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of Sri V. Bhaskar Reddy, Learned Counsel for the petitioner, would submit that the order under review suffers from an error apparent, as the Division bench had failed to follow the two earlier Division bench judgments in W.P. No.4801 of 2009 and batch dated 29.01.2010, and in W.P. No.10043 of 2009 dated 16.02.2010; W.P. No.10043 of 2009 was filed against the assessment order; both the Division bench judgments were binding on the co-ordinate Division bench which passed the order under review; there was total non-consideration of the aforesaid two judgments in the order under review; if the Division bench was of the view that the earlier two Division bench judgments required reconsideration, it ought to have referred the matter to a Full bench; failure of the Division bench to consider the two judgments, which were brought to its notice, is an error apparent; the alternative remedy of an appeal, in these circumstances, is not efficacious; the order in W.P. No.16279 of 2014 dated 16.06.2014 necessitates being reviewed; and the Writ Petition should be disposed of in terms of the earlier two Division bench judgments. Reliance is placed by the Learned Senior Counsel on Thungabhadra Industries Ltd. v. Government of A.P (AIR 1964 SC 1372) and State of Rajasthan v. Surendra Mohnot ((2014) 14 SCC 77).

On the other hand Sri M. Govind Reddy, Learned Special Standing Counsel for Commercial Taxes, would submit that the jurisdiction exercised by the High Court, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, is discretionary; the Division bench, while passing the order under review, had merely directed the petitioner to avail the statutory remedy of appeal; while refusing to exercise discretion, to entertain the Writ Petition on the ground that the petitioner had an effective and efficacious alternate remedy, the High Court would not consider the contentions urged on merits; the Division bench was, therefore, justified in not examining whether or not the two judgments, cited by the petitioner, were applicable to the case before it; exercise of discretion, not to entertain the Writ Petition where there exists an alternative statutory remedy, is not an error apparent on the face of the record; the two Division bench judgments, relied upon by the petitioner, can be brought to the notice of the statutory Appellate Authority also; the Division bench had permitted the petitioner to raise all the points, raised in the Writ Petition, before the appellate authority which included the two earlier Division bench judgments; if, as contended by the petitioner, these two Division bench judgments are applicable to the facts of the case, and the matter should be remanded to the assessing authority, such an order can be passed by the appellate authority also; and refusal by the earlier Division bench to exercise discretion to entertain the Writ Petition, on the ground of existence of an alternative remedy, is not an error apparent on the face of the record necessitating the order being reviewed. Reliance is placed by the Learned Special Standing Counsel on Northern India Caterers (India) Ltd. v. Lt. Governor of Delhi ((1980) 2 SCC 167).

The scope of interference, in review proceedings, is extremely limited. A review proceeding cannot be equated with the original hearing of the case, and the finality of the judgment delivered by the Court will not be reconsidered except "where a glaring omission or patent mistake or like grave error has crept in earlier by judicial fallibility ?. (Northern India Caterers (India) Ltd. (Supra); Sow Chandra Kante v. Sheikh Habib ((1975) 1 SCC 674)). A party is not entitled to seek review of a judgment merely for the purpose of a rehearing and a fresh decision of the case. The normal principle is 657that a judgment pronounced by the Court is final, and departure from that principle is justified only when circumstances, of a substantial and compelling character, make it necessary to do so. (Northern India Caterers (India) Ltd. (Supra); Sajjan Singh v. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1965 SC 845)).

Review is not a rehearing of an original matter. The power of review cannot be confused with the appellate power which enables a superior court to correct all errors committed by a subordinate court. (Kamlesh Verma v. Mayawati ((2013) 8 SCC 320)). The power of review must be exercised with extreme care, caution and circumspection and only in exceptional cases. (Jain Studios Ltd. v. Shin Satellite Public Co. Ltd. ((2006) 5 SCC 501) Kamlesh Verma (Supra)). An error which is not self-evident, and has to be detected by a process of reasoning, can hardly be said to be an error apparent on the face of the record justifying the Court to exercise its power of review. A review is by no means an appeal in disguise whereby an erroneous decision is reheard and corrected, but lies only for a patent error. (Kamlesh Verma (Supra)).

The question which this Court is required to consider, in the present proceedings, is whether the order, of which review is sought, suffers from an error apparent on the face of the record. The power to make an assessment is conferred on the assessing authority under Section 21 of the A.P. VAT Act, 2005. Section 31(1) of the AP VAT Act enables a VAT dealer, objecting to any order or proceeding recorded by any authority under the provisions of the A.P. VAT Act, to prefer an appeal to such authority as are prescribed under the Rules. Under the second proviso thereto, an appeal so preferred shall not be admitted by the appellate authority unless the dealer produces proof of payment of tax admitted to be due, or of such instalments as have been granted, and proof of payment of 12 % of the difference of the tax assessed by the authority prescribed and the tax admitted by the appellant, for the relevant tax period, in respect of which the appeal is preferred. The mere fact that 12 % of the disputed tax is required to be deposited, for an appeal under Section 31(1) of the A.P. VAT Act to be admitted, would not, by itself, justify an assessee invoking the extra-ordinary jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

The right to prefer an appeal is a statutory right, and can be circumscribed by the conditions in the grant. If the statute gives a right to appeal upon certain conditions, it is upon fulfilment of those conditions that the right becomes vested in, and exercisable by, the appellant. (Vijay Prakash D. Mehta v. Collector of Customs ((1988) 4 SCC 402)). As the right of appeal is a creature of a statute, there is no reason why the legislature, while granting the right, should not impose conditions for its exercise. (Seth Nand Lal v. State of Haryana (1980 Supp SCC 574);Shyam Kishore v. Municipal Corpn. of Delhi ((1993) 1 SCC 22); and Anant Mills Co. Ltd. v. State of Gujarat ((1975) 2 SCC 175)). Without a statutory provision, creating a right of appeal, the person aggrieved is not entitled to file an appeal. In the absence of any special reasons, there is no legal or constitutional impediment to the imposition of conditions for the exercise of the right to appeal. Such conditions merely regulate the exercise of the right of appeal to prevent its abuse by a recalcitrant litigant, and to avoid difficulty in enforcement, of the order appealed against, in case the appeal is ultimately dismissed. It is open to the Legislature to imposean accompanying liability upon a party upon whom a legal right is conferred or to prescribe conditions for the exercise of the right. Any requirement for the discharge of that liability or the fulfilment of that condition, in case the party concerned seeks to avail of the said right, is a valid piece of legislation. (Anant Mills Co. Ltd. (Supra)). The mere fact that the A.P. VAT Act prescribes deposit of 12 % of the disputed tax, as a pre-condition for admission of an appeal, would not mean that the statutory remedy is not efficacious. Accepting such a contention would mean that, where any such condition is stipulated in a statute, the petitioner would then be entitled to avoid availing the alternative statutory remedy, and instead invoke the extra-ordinary jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

Some exceptions to the rule of alternative remedy have been recognized i.e. where the statutory authority has not acted in accordance with the provisions of the enactment in question, or in defiance of the fundamental principles of judicial procedure, or has resorted to the provisions which are repealed, or when an order has been passed in total violation of the principles of natural justice. (CIT v. Chhabil Dass Agarwal ((2014) 1 SCC 603)). The jurisdiction of the High Court to entertain a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, inspite of the alternative statutory remedy, is not affected specially in a case where the authority against whom the writ is filed is shown to have no jurisdiction or had purported to usurp jurisdiction without any legal foundation. (Paschim Gujarat Vij Co. Ltd. v. Devabhai Memabhai Myatra (AIR 2014 Guj 26); Whirlpool Corporation v. Registrar of Trade Marks, Mumbai (2008(1) SCC 1)).

The High Court, in extraordinary circumstances, may exercise the power under Article 226 if it comes to the conclusion that there has been a breach of the principles of natural justice or the procedure required for decision has not been adopted. (Chhabil Dass Agarwal (Supra); K.S. Rashid and Sonv. Income Tax Investigation Commission (AIR 1954 SC 207); Sangram Singh v. Election Tribunal (AIR 1955 SC 425); Union of India v. T.R. Varma (AIR 1957 SC 882); State of U.P. v. Mohd. Nooh (AIR 1958 SC 86); K.S. Venkataraman and Co. (P) Ltd. v. State of Madras (AIR 1966 SC 1089); N.T. Veluswami Thevar v. G. Raja Nainar (AIR 1959 SC 422); Municipal Council, Khuraiv. Kamal Kumar (AIR 1965 SC 1321); Siliguri Municipality v. Amalendu Das ((1984) 2 SCC 436); S.T. Muthusami v. K. Natarajan ((1988) 1 SCC 572); Rajasthan SRTC v. Krishna Kant ((1995) 5 SCC 75); Kerala SEB v. Kurien E. Kalathil ((2000) 6 SCC 293); A. Venkatasubbiah Naidu v. S. Chellappan ((2000) 7 SCC 695); L.L. Sudhakar Reddy v. State of A.P. ((2001) 6 SCC 634); Shri Sant Sadguru Janardan Swami (Moingiri Maharaj) Sahakari Dugdha Utpadak Sanstha v. State of Maharashtra ((2001) 8 SCC 509); Pratap Singh v. State of Haryana ((2002) 7 SCC 484); and GKN Driveshafts (India) Ltd. v. ITO ((2003) 1 SCC 72)). Where there is an allegation of infringement of fundamental rights or when, on the undisputed facts, the taxing authorities are shown to have assumed jurisdiction, which they do not possess, it can be a ground on which the writ petition can be entertained. (State of H.P. v. Gujarat Ambuja Cement ((2005) 142 STC 1) (SC))).

The High Court, while exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226, is duty-bound to consider, among others, whether the petitioner has an alternative remedy for the resolution of the dispute. (City and Industrial Development Corpn. v. Dosu Aardeshir Bhiwandiwala (AIR 2009 SC 571)). The High Court does not, by assuming jurisdiction under Article 226, trench upon an alternative remedy provided by the statute for obtaining relief. Where it is open to the aggrieved petitioner to move another tribunal, the High Court, normally, will leave the party, applying to it, to seek resort to the machinery set up under the statute. (Thansingh Nathmal . Superintendent of Taxes (AIR 1964 SC 1419); LandT Finance Limited v. Anup Kumar Bera (AIR 2014 Calcutta 78)). Where a right or liability is created by a statute which gives a special remedy for enforcing it, the remedy provided by that statute only must be availed of. Where a liability, not existing in common law, is created by a statute, which at the same time gives a special and particular remedy for enforcing it, the remedy provided by the statute must be followed. The form given by the statute must be adopted and adhered to. (Titaghur Paper Mills Co. Ltd. v. State of Orissa ((1983) 2 SCC 433); Wolverhampton New Waterworks Co. v. Hawkeesford ((1859) 6 CBNS 336: 141 ER 486); Neville v. London Express Newspapers Ltd. (1919 AC 368: (1918 -19) All ER Rep. 61 (HL)); Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago v. Gordon Grant and Co. Ltd (1935 AC 532); Secy of State v. Mask and Co. ((1939 - 40) 67 IA 222: AIR 1940 PC 105); LandT Finance Limited (Supra)).

The High Court will not ordinarily permit, by entertaining a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, the machinery created under the statute to be bypassed. (Kanaiyalal Lalchand Sachdev v. State of Maharashtra ((2011) 2 SCC 782); Sadhana Lodhv. National Insurance Co. Ltd. ((2003) 3 SCC 524);Surya Dev Rai v. Ram Chander Rai ((2003) 6 SCC 675);SBI v. Allied Chemical Laboratories ((2006) 9 SCC 252); Chhabil Dass Agarwal (Supra); Nivedita Sharmav. Cellular Operators Assn. of India ((2011) 4 SCC 337); Thansingh Nathmal (Supra)).Where the Act provides for a complete machinery to challenge an order of assessment, the challenge should be by the mode prescribed by the Act, and not by a petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution. Ordinarily, the assessee should not be allowed to bypass the statutory remedies. (Titaghur Paper Mills Co. Ltd. (Supra)). When a revenue statute provides for a person, aggrieved by an assessment thereunder, a particular remedy to be sought in a particular forum in a particular way, it must be sought in that forum and in that manner, and all the other forums and modes of seeking the remedy are excluded. (Union of India v. Guwahati Carbon Ltd. ((2012) 11 SCC 651); Munshi Ram v. Municipal Committee, Chheharta ((1979) 3 SCC 83); Chhabil Dass Agarwal (Supra)).Refusal by the earlier Division bench to exercise jurisdiction under Article 226, and in relegating the petitioner to the alternative statutory remedy of appeal, is in accordance with law and is not illegal.

The question which necessitates examination in this writ petition is not whether a writ petition should be entertained despite existence of alternative remedy, but whether exercise of discretion by the High Court not to entertain a writ petition, as an alternative remedy of appeal was available to the assessee, is an order which can be said to suffer from an error apparent on the face of record necessitating its being reviewed. It is necessary, in this context, to refer to the judgments relied upon by Sri E. Manohar, Learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioners.

In Thungabhadra Industries Ltd. (Supra),the appellant, having failed before the departmental authorities in getting their claim for deduction allowed, approached the High Court filing a Tax Revision Case, but the High Court upheld the view of the department. An application was, thereafter, made to the High Court to grant a certificate of fitness, under Article 133(1) of the Constitution, on the ground that substantial questions of law, as to the interpretation of the General Sales Tax Act and the Rules made thereunder, as well as of certain other enactments which were relied upon by the appellants, in support of their claim, arose for decision in the case. The High Court granted the certificate. Thereafter the appeal was entertained by the Supreme Court, and was finally disposed of. Meanwhile, with regards assessment for three succeeding years, the same question was raised and was decided against the appellant by the Sales Tax Officer. The appeal was dismissed by the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, and by the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal. The Tax Revision Cases were dismissed by the High Court following their earlier decision. As on that date the correctness of the decision of the High Court, in the earlier T.R.C, was pending adjudication in the Supreme Court by virtue of the certificate of fitness granted earlier by the High Court under Article 133(1) of the Constitution.

As they wished to file an appeal to the Supreme Court, against the judgment of the High Court in these three Tax Revision Cases also, the appellant filed three miscellaneous petitions praying for a certificate of fitness. The High Court, however, dismissed the petitions. The appellant filed three applications for review of this order. The High Court dismissed the applications for review holding that the only ground argued, in support of the review petitions, was that leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was granted in similar circumstances in regard to the previous year, and there was no reason why leave should have been refused in these cases and that would furnish sufficient ground for reviewing the order dismissing the petitions seeking leave to file an appeal to the Supreme Court; that apart the Supreme Court was moved, under Article 136 of the Constitution, for grant of special leave, and that was dismissed may be on the ground that it was not filed in time; and, in the circumstances, the order could not be reviewed. The appellants thereupon filed applications, for special leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, challenging the correctness of this last order, and leave was granted. The question which fell for consideration by the Supreme Court was, primarily, whether the order of the High Court, refusing to grant a certificate of fitness, was vitiated by an error apparent on the face of the record.

It is in this context that the Supreme Court held that only one reason was given by the High Court for rejection of the certificate of fitness; in the first sentence of their order, they stated that the judgment was one of affirmance, but that was merely preliminary to what followed where they recorded that the certificate was refused for the reason that the case did not involve any substantial question of law regarding the interpretation of the Constitution; the preliminary statement that their judgment was one of affirmance would, however, seem to show that what the learned Judges had in mind were the terms of Article 133 of the Constitution where alone - as distinct from Article 132 -there is a reference to a judgment of affirmance; though per incuriam, the High Court had reproduced the terms of Article 132(1); asit was the case of no 185party that any question of interpretation of the Constitution was involved, the reference to "the substantial question of law relating to the interpretation of the Constitution" was obviously a mistake for a substantial question of law arising in the appeal; what they were concerned with was whether the statement in the order, that the case did not involve any substantial question of law, was an "error apparent on the face of the record"; the fact that on an earlier occasion the High Court had held, on an identical set of facts, that a substantial question of law arose would not per se be conclusive, for the earlier order itself may be erroneous; similarly, even if the statement was wrong, it would not follow that it was an "error apparent on the face of the record", for there is a distinction between a mere erroneous decision and a decision which could be characterised as vitiated by "error apparent"; a review lies only for a patent error; where, without any elaborate argument, one could point to the error and say here is a substantial point of law which stares one in the face, and there could reasonably be no two opinions entertained about it, a clear case of error apparent on the face of the record would be made out; no questions of fact were involved in the decision of the High Court; the entire controversy turned on the proper interpretation of Rule 18(1) of the Turnover and Assessment Rules, and other pieces of legislation, which were referred to by the High Court in its earlier order; it could not be doubted or disputed that these were substantial questions of law; and, in the circumstances, the submission of the appellant that the subsequent 187order of the High Court was vitiated by an "error apparent'' of the kind envisaged by O. XLVII r. 1, Civil Procedure Code, when it stated that "no substantial question of law arose", appeared to be well-founded.

In Thungabadra Industries Ltd (Supra), the order of the High Court refusing to grant a certificate, on the ground that the case did not involve any substantial question of law, was held to suffer from an error apparent on the face of the record as interpretation of Rule 18(1) of the turnover and assessment rules, and other pieces of legislation, gave rise to a substantial question of law. Unlike in Thungabadra Industries Ltd (Supra), the order under review, whereby the High Court merely exercised its discretion not to entertain the Writ Petition and to relegate the petitioner to the remedy of a statutory appeal, does not suffer from an error apparent from the record as it is not even the case of the petitioner that the alternative remedy of a statutory appeal is unavailable to them.

In Surendra Mohnot (Supra), the Supreme Court held that the application for review did not require a long drawn process of reasoning; it did not require any advertence on merits which is in the province of the appellate court; it was a manifest and palpable error; a wrong authority, which had nothing to do with the lis, was cited and that was conceded to; an already existing binding precedent was ignored; at a mere glance it would have been clear to the writ court that the decision was rendered on the basis of a wrong authority; the error was self-evident; when such self-evident errors come to the notice of the court, and they are not rectified in exercise of review jurisdiction or jurisdiction of recall which is a facet of plenary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, a grave miscarriage of justice occurs; in appeal the Division Bench did not think it necessary to look at the judgments, and did not apprise itself of the fact that an application for review had already been preferred before the learned Single Judge, and faced rejection; and it had transiently and laconically addressed itself to the principle enshrined in Section 96(3) of the Code of Civil Procedure, as a consequence of which the decision rendered by it has carried the weight of legal vulnerability.

In Surendra Mohnot (Supra), a wrong authority was cited and conceded to; and at a mere glance it would have been clear to the High Court that the decision was rendered on the basis of a wrong authority. In the present case, it is not even known whether the judgments relied upon by the petitioner are applicable to the facts of the present case or not. Reliance placed by Sri E. Manohar, Learned Senior Counsel, on Thungabadra Industries Ltd1 and Surendra Mohnot (Supra)is, therefore, misplaced.

While refusing to entertain the writ petition, on the ground of existence of an effective alternative remedy, the Division Bench was not required to examine the contentions urged on merits or whether the judgments, in W.P. No.4801 of 2009 and batch dated 29.01.2010 and W.P. No.10043 of 2009 and batch dated 16.02.2010, were applicable to the facts of the case before it. While the law declared by the Division Bench of the High Court is no doubt binding on a co-ordinate bench, it is also binding on the jurisdictional appellate authority. Under Article 215, every High Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself. Under Article 226, it has the plenary power to issue orders or writs for the enforcement of the fundamental rights and for any other purpose to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases any Government, within its territorial jurisdiction. Under Article 227 it has jurisdiction over all courts and tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction. (East India Commercial Co. Ltd. v. Collector of Customs (AIR 1962 SC 1893)).

It would be anomalous to suggest that a tribunal, over which the High Court has superintendence, can ignore the law declared by that court and start proceedings in direct violation of it. If a tribunal can do so, all the subordinate courts can equally do so, for there is no specific provision, just like in the case of Supreme Court, making the law declared by the High Court binding on subordinate courts. It is implicit in the power of supervision conferred on a superior tribunal that all the tribunals subject to its supervision should conform to the law laid down by it. Such obedience would also be conducive to their smooth working: otherwise, there would be confusion in the administration of law and respect for law would irretrievably suffer. The law declared by the highest court in the State is binding on authorities or tribunals under its superintendence, and they cannot ignore it either in initiating a proceeding or deciding on the rights involved in such a proceeding. (East India Commercial Co. Ltd. (Supra)). If the contention, that the aforesaid two Division bench judgments apply to the facts of the present case, were to merit acceptance, the appellate authority would also be required to follow the said judgments, and apply the law declared therein to the case of the appellants before him.

Even otherwise examination of the contention, urged on behalf of the petitioners, that the Division Bench judgments in W.P.No.4801 of 2009 and batch dated 29.01.2010 and in W.P. No.10043 of2009 dated 16.02.2010 squarely apply to the facts of the present case, would require advertence on merits which is in the province of an appellate Court, and not that of the Court exercising its review jurisdiction. As the earlier Division Bench did not entertain the Writ Petition and had relegated the petitioner to the alternative remedy of a statutory appeal, it did not, nor was it required to, examine whether the judgments relied upon by the petitioner were applicable to the case on hand.

We are unable to accept the submission of Sri E. Manohar, Learned Senior Counsel, that wherever it is contended that the question which falls for consideration in a particular case is covered by precedents, the High Court should examine the contentions on its merits, and cannot relegate the petitioner to the alternative remedy of a statutory appeal. Whether a writ petition should be entertained against an assessment order, or the assessee should be relegated to the remedy of a statutory appeal, are matters which fall within the discretionary jurisdiction of the High Court. Non-entertainment of petitions, under the writ jurisdiction by the High Court when an efficacious alternative remedy is available, is a rule of self-imposed limitation. It is essentially a rule of policy, convenience and discretion rather than a rule of law. Undoubtedly, it is within the discretion of the High Court to grant relief under Article 226 despite the existence of an alternative remedy. (Chhabil Dass Agarwal (Supra); Mohd. Nooh (Supra);Titaghur Paper Mills Co. Ltd. (Supra);Harbanslal Sahnia v. Indian Oil Corpn. Ltd. ((2003) 2 SCC 107); and Gujarat Ambuja Cement Ltd. (Supra)). The rule of exclusion of writ jurisdiction, by availability of alternative remedy, is a rule of discretion and not one of compulsion. (Harbans Lal Sahnia (Supra); Gujarat Ambuja Cement (Supra)). The existence of an adequate or suitable alternative remedy available to a litigant is a factor which a court entertaining an application under Article 226 will consider for exercising the discretion to issue a writ under Article 226. (S.J.S. Business Enterprises (P) Ltd. v. State of Bihar ((2004) 7 SCC 166)).

While the rule of exhaustion of alternative remedy is a rule of discretion, it is difficult to fathom any reason why the High Court should entertain a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution ignoring the fact that the petitioner can avail the effective alternative remedy by filing application, appeal, revision, etc. and the particular legislation contains a detailed mechanism for redressal of his grievance. (United Bank of India v. Satyawati Tondon ((2010) 8 SCC 110). It is one thing to say that, in exercise of the power vested in it under Article 226 of the Constitution, the High Court can entertain a writ petition against any order passed by or action taken by the State and/or its agency/instrumentality or any public authority or order passed by a quasi -judicial body/authority, but it is an altogether different thing to say that each and every petition, filed under Article 226 of the Constitution, must be entertained by the High Court as a matter of course ignoring the fact that the aggrieved person has an effective alternative remedy. When a statutory forum is created by law for redressal of grievances, a writ petition should not ordinarily be entertained ignoring the statutory dispensation. (LandT Finance Ltd (Supra)).

It is only where, without any elaborate argument, one could point to the error and say that there is a substantial point of law which stares one in the face, and there could reasonably be no two opinions entertained about it, a clear case of error apparent on the face of the record would be made out. (Thungabhadra Industries Ltd. (Supra)Surendra Mohnot (Supra)). An error, apparent on the face of the record, exists if, of the two or more views canvassed on the point, it is possible to hold that the controversy can be said to admit of only one of them. If the view adopted by the Court in the original judgment is a possible view, having regard to what the record states, it is difficult to hold that there is an error apparent on the face of the record. (Northern India Caterers (India) Ltd. (Supra)).

The error must be such which is apparent on the face of the record, and not an error which has to be fished out and searched. It must be an error of inadvertence. The power of review can be exercised for correction of a mistake but not to substitute a view. The possibility of two views on the subject is not a ground for review. (Kamlesh Verma (Supra); andLily Thomasv. Union of India [(2000) 6 SCC 224]). Mere disagreement with the view expressed in the judgment cannot be a ground for invoking the review jurisdiction. In review proceedings, the Court shall interfere only when there is a glaring omission or patent mistake or when a grave error has crept in the judgment. (Union of India v. Sandur Manganese and Iron Ores Ltd., [(2013) 8 SCC 337]).

Examination of the question, whether the earlier two Division bench judgments are applicable to the present case, are within the province of the appellate Court, and not in review proceedings. Even if the submission of Sri E.Manohar, Learned Senior counsel, that, in the light of the prior two Division Bench judgments, the Division bench, in the order under review, should not have relegated the petitioner to the alternative statutory remedy, is presumed to be a possible view, the view expressed by the Division Bench, that these contentions can as well be urged before the appellate authority, is also a possible view. The order under review cannot, therefore, be said to suffer from an error apparent on the face of the record.

It is not in dispute that the petitioner has an alternative remedy of appeal under Section 31(1) of the A.P. VAT Act. It is also not in dispute that exercise of jurisdiction, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, is discretionary and the High Court has the discretion not to entertain the writ petition where there exists an alternative statutory remedy. As the High Court has the discretion to relegate the petitioner to the alternative remedy of appeal, exercise of discretion by the High Court to refuse to entertain a writ petition, on the ground that all the contentions urged therein can as well be urged before the appellate authority, cannot be said to suffer from an error apparent necessitating review. The review petition fails and is, accordingly, dismissed. Miscellaneous Petitions, if any pending, shall also stand dismissed. No costs.


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