1. S. R. No. 23086 of 1953 relates to a civil revision petition purporting to be filed under Article 227, Constitution of India against the decree and judgment of the District Collector of East Godavari at Kakinada in summary Appeal No. 41 of 1952. That appeal was against the order of the Deputy Collector, Peddapuram, in S. S. No. 11 of 1949, which was instituted for the recovery of emoluments attached to the office of the barber service in Tendapalli village of Pithapuram taluk. The suit was filed under Section 13 of Madras Act III of 1895 and the appeal was under Section 23 of that Act. S. R. NO. 17106 ol 1953 relates to a similar appeal under Section 23 of Madras Act III of 1895. The question is whether Article 237 of the Constitution enables a person aggrieved by an order of a tribunal like the District Collector to invoke the revisional powers of this court, or in other words, whether Article 227 of the Constitution confers on the High Court the power to interfere with the order of judicial or quasi-judicial tribunals. The answer to the question depends entirely on a construction of Article 227 which runs thus:
"227. (1) Every High Court shall have superintendence over all courts and tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions, the High Court may-
(a) call for returns from such courts,--
(b) make and issue general rules and prescribe forms for regulating the practice and proceedings of such courts; and
(c) prescribe forms in which books, entries and accounts shall be kept by the officers of any such courts;
(3) The High Court may also settle tables of fees to be allowed to the sheriff and all clerks and officers of such courts and to attorneys, advocates and pleaders practising therein:
Provided that any rules made, forms prescribed or tables settled under Clause (2) or Clause (3) shall not be inconsistent with the provision of any law for the time being in force, and shall require the previous approval of the Governor.
(4) Nothing in this Article shall be deemed to confer on a High Court powers of superintendence over any court or tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed Forces."
The contention on behalf of the petitioners is that the power of superintendence conferred on the High Court under Article 227(1) over all courts and tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction includes the power to revise the judgments and orders of any such tribunal,
2. The origin of this Article goes back to the Charter Act of 1881 (24 and 25 Vict. Ch. 104), Section 15 of that Act in so far as it is material, ran thus:
"Each of the High Courts established under this Act shall have superintendence over all courts which may be subject to its appellate jurisdiction ...... ...... ......"
It wilt be noticed that there is no reference to tribunals in this section and the courts are described as courts subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court.
3. Section 107, Government of India Act, 1915, was an almost exact reproduction of Section 15, so far as this part is concerned. Section 224, Government of India Act of 1935, which is the corresponding provision in that Act however contained an important qualification. Section 224(1) was identical with Section 107(1) of the 1915 Act, but Section 224(2) was in the following terms:
"Nothing in this section shall be construed as giving to a High Court any jurisdiction to question any judgment of any inferior court which is not otherwise subject to appeal or revision."
In Article 227 of the Constitution which corresponds to Section 224 of the Government of India Act, 1933, there are two significant changes. One is that Tribunals have been added along with "Courts" as subject to the superintendence of the High Court. There is nothing corresponding to Section 224(2) in Article 227. There is another change too, namely, for the words "for the time being subject to its appellate jurisdiction", the following words have been substituted "throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction." A change in the Marginal Note may also be noticed, though it may not be very conclusive of the matter. The Marginal Note for Section 224 of the Government of India Act of 1935 was: "Administrative functions of High Courts," while the Marginal Note of Article 227 of the Constitution is: "Power of superintendence over all courts by the High Court." The corresponding headnote for Section 107, Government of India Act of 1915 was "Powers of High Court with respect to subordinate courts."
4. In -- 'Gobind Coomar v. Kisto Coomar', 7 WB 520 (A), a Pull Bench of the Calcutta High Court decided that the High Court could, in the exercise of the power of superintendence conferred on it by Section 15 of the Charter Act, interfere with an order of the Deputy Collector in a suit for arrears of rent. Loch J. said;
"I think that under the words 'shall have superintendence over all courts' used in Section 15 of 24 and 25 Vict. Ch. 104, this court has the power in eases where no appeal lies to the Judge, of directing a lower court to do that which is legal, and to correct that which is illegal in its proceedings."
In a subsequent case, a Division Bench of the same Court followed the above Full Bench decision as authority for interfering with an order made by a Deputy Commissioner in proceedings in execution of a rent decree. This case went up on appeal to the Privy Council, -- 'Nilmoni Singh Deo v. Taranath Mookerjee', 9 Cal 295 (B). A question was raised with respect to the jurisdiction of the High Court to entertain the revision. Their Lordships did not think it necessary to say anything upon the point except that they entirely agreed with the view taken say the High Court of their own jurisdiction. It must not be overlooked that there was at that time a provision in the civil Procedure Code corresponding to Section 115 of the present Code which conferred revisional jurisdiction on the High Court. That Section 15, of the Charter Act conferred powers of a judicial character apart from those conferred on the Court by the Code of Civil Procedure was taken as granted by the Courts in India.
5. In -- 'Muhammad Sulaiman Khan v. Fatima', 9 All. 104 (FB) (C) Edge C. J. considered that under Section 15 of the Charter Act, it was competent to the High Court in the exercise of its power of superintendence to direct a subordinate court to do its duty or to abstain from taking action in matters of which it has no cognizance but the High Court was not competent in the exercise of this jurisdiction to interfere with and set right the orders of a subordinate court on the ground that the order of the subordinate court had proceeded on error of law or an error of fact. straight J. observed, "I think that the word 'superintendence' used in Section 15 of the Charter Act, contemplated and now includes powers of a judicial or 'quasi-judicial character, apart from those conferred on the court by Section 622, Civil P. C." 115 of the present Code). In -- 'Somasundaram Chettiar v. Desika Gnanasambanda Pandarasanncdhi', 31 Mad 60, (D), a Division Bench of this court held that the High Court had power under Section 15 of the Charter Act to interfere with an order passed by the District Munsif for the examination of a witness on commission. The learned Judges referred to the ruling of the Calcutta High Court in '7 WR 520 (A)' and the Privy Council's approval of that ruling in '9 Cal. 293 (PC) (B)' as sufficient authority on the scope of Section 15 of the Charter Act. They thought it was unnecessary to rely on Section 622, Civil P. C. but they expressly stated that they should not be understood as holding that Section 622 would not authorise them to interfere with the order of the lower court.
6. As Section 107 Government of India Act of 1915 substantially reproduced Section 15 of the Charter Act, the same view was taken of the power conferred on the High Court by that section. In -- 'Ealakrishna Hari v. Emperor', AIR 1933 Bom 1 (SB) (E), Sir John Beaumont C. J. took it as undisputed that the rights of superintendence under Section 107 included not only superintendence on administrative points but superintendence on the judicial side, and under this power the High Court could correct any error in a judgment of a court subject to its appellate jurisdiction. The scope of this section as laid down by the several courts in India has been fully set out in 'Mullah's Commentary' on the Code of Civil Procedure, 12th Edn. at page 1384 'et seq.'
The limitations of the power under this section were understood to be two-fold: (1) the High Court was not competent in the exercise of this power to interfere with an order of a subordinate court on the ground that it proceeded on an error of law or an error of fact and (2) the High Court would not ordinarily interfere except in cases of grave and otherwise irreparable injustice. Whatever the limitations be, it was taken as established beyond doubt that the power of superintendence under Section 107, Government of India Act was not merely an administrative power, but also a judicial power of revision. The fact that Clause 15 of the Letters Patent which confers a power of appeal from the judgment of a single Judge of the High Court excepts an order made in the exercise of the power of superintendence under the provisions of Section 107, Government of India Act, is clearly on the assumption that such an order could be a judicial order.
7. In the face of the express provision in Section 224(2), Government of India Act, 1935, it was of course obvious that the power of Judicial interference which. Section 107, Government of India Act of 1915 had conferred on the High Court had been taken away. Vide -- In re Somanna', AIR 1938 Mad 631 (F).
8. Article 227 of the Constitution came up for consideration in many of the High Courts in India. The omission of a provision corresponding to Section 224(2), Government of India Act of 1935 largely influenced the courts in coming to the conclusion that the effect of Article 227 was to restore the position as it stood before the Government of India Act of 1935. It has been repeatedly held in Calcutta that Article 227 has conferred on the High Court the power to interfere in revision with the judicial orders of subordinate courts and tribunals. In -- 'Bimla Prosad v. State of West Bengal', (SB) (G) Harries C. J. delivering the judgment on behalf of a Special Bench of that court, adopted this construction of Article 227 on grounds which have appealed to the Judges of other courts as well, He observed:
"It is, therefore, clear that whilst the Government of India Act, 1935, was in force the power of superintendence over courts subject to our appellate jurisdiction did not give this court a right to interfere with judicial orders of such courts. The power of superintendence is again given to this court and other High Courts by Article 227 of the Constitution and it is to be observed that the provisions in Sub-section (2) of Section 224 restricting the powers of this court find 110 place in Article 227 of the Constitution. The powers of superintendence given to the High Courts under Article 227 of the Constitution are somewhat similar to the powers given to High Courts by the Government of India Act 1915, which were, as I have said later restricted by Sub-section (2) of Section 224, Government of India Act of 1935, It seems to me that it was the intention of the Constituent Assembly to restore the law to what it was before the Government of India Act of 1935 was enacted. That is the only inference which can be drawn from the omission of the provisions of Sub-section (2) of Section 224, Government of India Act of 1935 from Article 227 of the Constitution. That being so, it appears to me that this court is bound to hold that it has the same powers of judicial interference as it had before the Government of India Act, 1935 was enacted if not greater powers. It must be held therefore that Article 227 of the Constitution give this court a right in appropriate cases to interfere judicially with orders of courts and tribunals made amenable to its jurisdiction by that Article."
In -- 'Haripada Dutt v. Ananta Mandal', (H), a
Division Bench of that court consisting of Chakravartti and Mookerjee JJ. discussed at great length the scope of Article 227 in relation to orders of tribunals. According to Chakra-vartti J.:
"The effect of the addition of the word 'tribunal' to the word 'court' in Article 227 and the removal of the bar against revision of Judgments in exercise of the power of superintendence, is that all agencies whether courts or not, performing the duty of deciding disputed questions of right between parties on behalf of and under the sanction of the State and in accordance with State made laws, are placed under the administrative and judicial control of the High Court."
9. It is unnecessary to refer at any length to the decisions of other Courts which nave taken the same view and on similar reasoning. Vide -- 'Jodhey v. State', AIR 1952 All 783 (I), -- 'Shridhar v. Collector, Nagpur', AIR 1951 Nag 90 (J), -- 'Khusiram v. Aminchand', AIR 1951 Punj 124 (K), -- 'Israil Khan v. State', AIR 1951 Assam 103 CD and -- 'A. R. Sarin v. B. C. Patil', (M). A learned Judge of this Court Ramaswami J., has exhaustively dealt with the case law on the point and arrived at the same conclusion, a conclusion which appears to us to be irresistible, having regard to the significant omission of a provision corresponding to Section 224(2), Government of India Act of 1935. (In re, Annamalai Mudaliar, (N) ).
10. The learned Advocate General who appeared to be of assistance to us suggested that a provision corresponding to Section 224(2) of the 1935 Act was omitted as superfluous probably because Article 226 conferred adequate power on the High Court, to interfere with orders of Judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals and therefore there would be no need to invoke Article 227 in support of a revisional jurisdiction in the High Court, so far as such orders of tribunals are concerned. According to him Article 227 must be confined to administrative superintendence. The fallacy in this argument is that it completely overlooks the fact that Article 226 does not contemplate interference by the High Court with orders of the subordinate courts whereas Article 227 expressly mentions "court's" as well as "tribunals". Moreover, the argument, that Article 226 is wide enough to confer a sort of revisional jurisdiction on the High Court in respect of the orders-of judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals and therefore Article 227 should not be understood as conferring more or less similar power, is without force, having regard to the consensus of judicial opinion on the effect and scope of Section 107, Government of India Act and Section 15 of the Charter Act, which existed alongside of the express provision in the Civil P. C. conferring revisional jurisdiction on the High Court.
We have seen how the learned Judges have held that the same order could well be revised both under Section 662 of the then Civil P. C. (Now Section 115) and under Section 107, Government of India Act or Section 15 of the Charter Act. In the same way, it might be that there is some overlapping between Articles 226 and 227. Chakeravartti J. in -- ' (H)', to which reference was made earlier does
notice this overlapping between the two articles. But it is not difficult to conceive of cases to which Article 223 may not be applicable, but Article 227 might be applied. Take the case for instance, where the High Court feels that in the interests of justice and to avoid multiplicity of proceedings there should be a stay of a proceeding pending before a tribunal till the disposal of a suit pending in a civil court. Article 220, according to the Supreme Court cannot be invoked for the sole purpose of obtaining an interlocutory order. Vide -- 'the State of Orissa v. Madan GopaV, (O). But under Article 227, in exercise of the power of superintendence, the High Court may well direct such a stay. Even assuming there is overlapping to a large extent, we cannot from that circumstances alone refuse to adopt a construction of the Article which was adopted in respect of a similar provision before the Government or India Act of 1935.
11. Mr. Chandrasekhara Sastri who appeared for one of the petitioners, during the course of his argument, tried to avoid overlapping between the two sections by confining Article 226 to persons and authorities and excluding from its operation courts and tribunals, which he contended, but we think it is too late in the day to hold that Article 226 does not confer power on the High Court to interfere with the orders of judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals.
12. There can be no doubt whatever that in the changed set up which prevailed at the time of the coming into force of the Constitution and which was expected to continue in future, judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals would play a large part in the determination of disputes in several spheres of national activity. The importance of such tribunals is well demonstrated by the fact that Article 133 provides for the grant of special leave to appeal to the Supreme Court from any determination or order made or passed by any Tribunal in the territory of India (vide -- 'the Bharat Bank Ltd., Delhi v. Employees of the Bharat Bank Ltd., Delhi', (P). It is ctherefore not surprising that the makers of the Constitution thought fit to confer a general power of superintendence on the High Court over such tribunals as well as courts, and such superintendence should not be confined to administrative matters only.
13. We therefore hold that a petition or an application, can be filed in this court under Article 227 of the Constitution to revise the order of any subordinate court or tribunal. The two petitions now before us will therefore be numbered as civil revision petitions.
14. It is not necessary at this stage to embark on a discussion as to the limits of the power of the High Court under Article 227. Nor is this the occasion to consider what should be the proper Court-fee for a petition under Article 227.