Wednesday, November 28, 2012

IPAB Dismisses Astra Zeneca’s Appeal Against Order in Review Petition

In an order dated November 26, 2012, the IPAB dismissed Astra Zeneca’s appeal against an order passed by the Controller in a review petition. I thank Mr.Bharat S.Kumar, advocate and friend for bringing this development to my attention!

The ground for dismissal was that there is no provision for appeal against an order passed in a review petition. We had earlier discussed an order passed by the IPAB on these lines in October.

The IPAB also observed that the grounds of review raised by Astra Zeneca in its review petition before the Controller were not in the nature of review, but more in the nature of an appeal.

The IPAB noted that a party cannot seek re-hearing of a matter under the garb of review unless there is an error which is apparent on the face of the record. This position is consistent with the principles laid down by the Supreme Court for entertaining a review petition under Order 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Following is the observation of the Supreme Court on scope of review:

It is well settled that review proceedings have to be strictly confined to the ambit and scope of Order 47 Rule 1 CPC. In Thungabhadra Industries Ltd. Vs. The Government of Andhra Pradesh (1965 (5) SCR 174 at 186) this Court opined:

"What, however, we are not concerned with is whether the statement in the order of September 1959 that the case did not involve any substantial question of law is an "error apparent on the face of the record". The fact that on the earlier occasion that Court held on an identical state of facts that a substantial question of law arose would not per se be conclusive, for the earlier order itself might 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 which is real, though it might not always be capable of exposition between a mere erroneous decision and a decision which could be characterised as vitiated by "error apparent."  

A review is by no means an appeal in disguise whereby an erroneous decision is reheard and corrected, but lies only for patent error."

Again, in Smt. Meera Bhanjia Vs. Smt. Nirmala Kumari Choudhury (1995 (1) SCC 170) while quoting with approval a passage from Abhiram Taleshwar Sharma Vs. Abhiram Pishak Sharma & Ors. (1979 (4) SCC 389), this Court once again held that review proceedings are not by way of an appeal and have to strictly confined to the scope and ambit of Order 47 Rule 1 CPC.

Under Order 47 Rule 1 CPC a judgment may be open to review inter alia if there is a mistake or an error apparent on the face of the record. 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 review under Order 47 Rule 1 CPC.

In exercise of the jurisdiction under Order 47 Rule 1 CPC it is not permissible for an erroneous decision to be "reheard and corrected". A review petition, it must be remembered has limited purpose and cannot be allowed to be "an appeal in disguise."

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