SC Registry has no power to decline registration of a curative petition because review petition was dismissed in open court: Supreme Court

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While hearing the M/S. Brahmaputra Concrete Pipe Industries vs. The Assam State Electricity Board case, the Supreme Court (SC) of India ruled that the top court’s registry has no power to decline registration of a curative petition on the ground that review petition was heard and dismissed in open court. Further, the SC clarified, “The grounds on which the Registrar may refuse to receive a petition have been enumerated in Rule 5 of Order XV of the 2013 Rules. In the order under appeal, the aforesaid Rule has been referred to. But this Rule does not empower the Registrar to decline registration of a curative petition on the ground as disclosed in declining registration of the present curative petition.” While pronouncing the judgment. a two-judge bench consisting of Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Aniruddha Bose said, “The proper course for the registry would be to obtain instructions from the judge in chambers and thereafter communicate the same to the party, on receiving such an application”. 

In this case, the appellants were firms who were aggrieved by an order of the SC Registrar declining registration of a set of petitions labeled as curative petitions. This was a common order passed in six similar petitions founded on similar factual and legal grounds. These appeals have been filed under Rule 5 of Order XV of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013. The origin of the dispute ultimately leading to the passing of the aforesaid order relates to the maintainability of a suit instituted by the appellant under ‘The Interest on Delayed Payments to Small Scale and Ancillary Industrial Undertakings Act, 1993’. The suit of the appellant was decreed by the Civil Judge, Senior Division, but was dismissed by the High Court in appeal mainly on the grounds of the suit not being maintainable. The HC held that the suit under the 1993 Act would not lie in respect of the transactions that had taken place before 23.09.1992, the date on which the Act became operational. The appeal against the HC judgment was dismissed by a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court. 

Further, the matter was mentioned before the SC bench. The bench said that under the Constitution of India or any other statutory provision, there is no specific jurisdiction conferred on this Court to entertain curative petitions except the Rules of this Court made in 2013. During the proceedings, the main point urged on behalf of the appellant was that the Registrar has no power or jurisdiction to decline registration of a curative petition and it should be decided by the SC bench. The SC observed, “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.” At last, the SC ordered that the order was contrary to the provisions of the Rules and thus, set aside the impugned order.