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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Once, the High Court entertains a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution against the order of Armed Forces Tribunal and decides the matter, the person who thus approached the High Court, will also be precluded from filing an appeal under Section 30 with leave to appeal under Section 31 of the Act against the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal as he cannot challenge the order passed by the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution under Section 30 read with Section 31 of the Act. Thereby, there is a chance of anomalous situation. Therefore, it is always desirable for the High Court to act in terms of the law laid down by this Court as referred to above, which is binding on the High Court under Article 141 of the Constitution of India, allowing the aggrieved person to avail the remedy under Section 30 read with Section 31 Armed Forces Act. 38. The High Court (Delhi High Court) while entertaining the writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution bypassed the machinery created under Sections 30 and 31 of Act. However, we find that Andhra Pradesh High Court and the Allahabad High Court had not entertained the petitions under Article 226 and directed the writ petitioners to seek resort under Sections 30 and 31 of the Act. Further, the law laid down by this Court, as referred to above, being binding on the High Court, we are of the view that Delhi High Court was not justified in entertaining the petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. 39. For the reasons aforesaid, we set aside the impugned judgments passed by the Delhi High Court and upheld the judgments and orders passed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court and Allahabad High Court. Aggrieved persons are given liberty to avail the remedy under Section 30 with leave to appeal under Section 31 of the Act, and if so necessary may file petition for condonation of delay to avail remedy before this Court. 40. The Civil Appeal Nos.7400, 7375-7376, 7399, 9388, 9389 of 2013 are allowed and the Civil Appeal Nos.7338 of 2013 and 96 of 2014 are dismissed.

                                                                  REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7400 OF 2013

UNION OF INDIA & ORS.                           ... APPELLANTS

                                   VERSUS


MAJOR GENERAL SHRI KANT SHARMA & ANR.            ... RESPONDENTS


WITH

CIVIL APPEAL NO.7338 OF 2013,
CIVIL APPEAL NOS.7375-7376 OF 2013,
CIVIL APPEAL NO.7399 OF 2013,
CIVIL APPEAL NO.9388 OF 2013,
CIVIL APPEAL NO.9389 OF 2013 AND
CIVIL APPEAL NO.96 OF 2014.




                               J U D G M E N T


SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, J



      In these appeals the question raised is whether the  right  of  appeal
under Section 30  of  the  Armed  Forces  Tribunal  Act,  2007  (hereinafter
referred to as the  'ct'),  against  an  order  of  Armed  Forces  Tribunal
(hereinafter referred to as the 'Tribunal') with the leave of  the  Tribunal
under Section 31 of the Act or leave granted by the Supreme  Court,  or  bar
of leave to appeal before the Supreme Court  under  Article  136(2)  of  the
Constitution of India, will bar the jurisdiction of  the  High  Court  under
Article 226 of the Constitution of India regarding matters related to  Armed
Forces.
Union of India and others are  the appellants in all  these  appeals  except
in C.A.No.7338, C.A.No. 7399 of 2013 and  C.A.No.96/2014  wherein  they  are
the respondents. The respondents in  all  these  appeals  except  the  three
mentioned above  are-Army  Personnel  who  moved  before  the  Tribunal  for
adjudication or trial of disputes and complaints with respect  to  condition
of service. Having not granted  relief,  the  Army  personnel  assailed  the
order passed by  the  Tribunal  before  the  respective  High  Courts  under
Article 226 of the Constitution. The appellant in  C.A.No.7338  of  2013  on
being aggrieved by the order passed by the Armed Forces  Tribunal,  Regional
Bench, Chennai challenged the same before the High Court  of  Judicature  of
Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad. In the cases  in  hand  except  C.A.No.7338  of
2013 and C.A.No.96 of 2014 the High Court  entertained  the  writ  petitions
and adjudicated the disputes. The High Court  having  granted  relief  after
reversing the order of Tribunal, the  Union  of  India  has  challenged  the
same. In C.A.No.7338 of 2013 and  C.A.No.96  of  2014,  the  appellants-Army
Personnel have challenged  the  orders  by  which  High  Courts  refused  to
entertain their writ petitions. In C.A. No. 7399  of  2013,  the  appellant-
Army Personnel has challenged the order of Delhi  High  Court  allowing  the
writ petition of respondent No.2 therein.
2.    At the outset, in all the writ  petitions  preliminary  objection  was
raised on behalf of the Union of India as  to  the  maintainability  of  the
writ petition on the ground that against the orders  impugned  a  remedy  of
appeal to the Supreme Court is  provided  under  Section  30  of  the  Armed
Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.
3.    Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Union  of  India  submitted
that the High Court cannot entertain writ petitions  under  Article  226  of
the Constitution of India contrary to the  law  enacted  by  the  Parliament
being  the  Armed  Forces  Tribunal,  2007  which  is  a  special  enactment
exclusively provided for an appellate remedy by way  of  leave  before  this
Court.
      Further, according to learned counsel for the Union of India  as  none
of the respondents raised any issue of jurisdiction of the Tribunal  and  it
was essentially a challenge to the order of the Armed Forces  Tribunal  only
on merits. Therefore, the High Court was not  correct  in  entertaining  the
writ petitions under Article  226  of  the  Constitution  against  the  well
considered and reasoned order passed by the Tribunal.
4.     Col.  A.D.  Nargolkar  appeared  in   person   made   the   following
submissions:
      (i)   The power of judicial review under Article 226 and  227  of  the
Constitution is an inviolable part  of  its  basic  structures.  This  power
cannot be ousted by an Act of Parliament  i.e.  the  Armed  Forces  Tribunal
Act, 2007.
      (ii)  Section 14 of the Act itself provides  for  judicial  review  by
the High Court under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution.  There  exists
clear and recorded legislative intent behind the specific provisions.
      (iii)  Article  227(4)  of  the  Constitution  does  not  exclude  the
jurisdiction of the High Court over the Armed Forces  Tribunal  as  no  such
Tribunal existed when Article 227(4) of the Constitution was substituted.
      Similar submissions were made by the learned Senior  Counsel  for  the
respondent-Army Personnel.
5.    For the determination of the present issue it is  necessary  to  refer
the relevant provisions of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act,  2007,  the  power
of the High Court under Sections 226 and 227 of the  Constitution,  and  the
power of Supreme Court under Articles 32 and 136 of the Constitution.
6.    The Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007 has been enacted  to  provide  for
adjudication or trial by Armed Forces Tribunal of  disputes  and  complaints
with respect  to  commission,  appointments,  enrolment  and  conditions  of
service in respect of persons subject to the Army Act, 1950, the  Navy  Act,
1957 and the Air Force At, 1950 and also to provide for appeals arising  out
of orders, findings or sentences of Courts-Martial held under the said  Acts
and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
7.    As per Section 14 of the Act,  the  Armed  Forces  Tribunal  has  been
established by the Central Government to exercise the  jurisdiction,  powers
and authority conferred on it by the said  Act.  Section  14  specifies  the
jurisdiction, powers and authority of the Tribunal in  relation  to  service
matters as follows:
"Section 14. Jurisdiction, powers and authority  in  service  matters.-  (1)
Save as otherwise  expressly  provided  in  this  Act,  the  Tribunal  shall
exercise, on and from the appointed day, all the  jurisdiction,  powers  and
authority, exercisable immediately before that day  by  all  courts  (except
the Supreme Court or a High Court  exercising  jurisdiction  under  articles
226 and 227 of the Constitution) in relation to all service matters.

(2) Subject to the other provisions of this Act, a person  aggrieved  by  an
order pertaining to any service  matter  may  make  an  application  to  the
Tribunal in such form and accompanied by such documents  or  other  evidence
and on payment of such fee as may be prescribed.

(3) On receipt of an application relating to service matters,  the  Tribunal
shall, if satisfied after due inquiry, as it may deem necessary, that it  is
fit for adjudication by it, admit such application; but where  the  Tribunal
is not so satisfied, it may dismiss  the  application  after  recording  its
reasons in writing.

(4) For the purpose of adjudicating an application, the Tribunal shall  have
the same powers as are vested in a Civil  Court  under  the  Code  of  Civil
Procedure, 1908, (5  of  1908)  while  trying  a  suit  in  respect  of  the
following matters, namely-

summoning and enforcing the attendance     of any person and  examining  him
on oath;

requiring the discovery and production of documents;

receiving evidence on affidavits;

subject to the provisions of sections 123 and 124  of  the  Indian  Evidence
Act, 1872, (1 of 1872) requisitioning any public record or document or  copy
of such record or document from any office;

issuing commissions for the     examination of witnesses or documents;

reviewing its decisions;

dismissing an application for default  or deciding it exparte;

setting aside any order of dismissal of any application for default  or  any
order passed by it exparte; and

any other matter which may be prescribed by the Central Government.

(5) The Tribunal shall decide both questions of law and facts  that  may  be
raised before it."

      It is clear that in relation to service matters the Tribunal has  been
empowered to exercise the jurisdiction, powers  and  authority,  exercisable
by all the Courts except  the  power  of  Supreme  Court  or  a  High  Court
exercising jurisdiction under Section 226 and 227 of the Constitution.
8.    Section 15 specifies the jurisdiction,  powers  and  authority  to  be
exercised by the Tribunal relating to matters of appeal against  the  Court-
Martial.  The said Section reads  as fellows:
"Section 15.  Jurisdiction,  powers  and  authority  in  matters  of  appeal
against court-martial.-(1) Save as  otherwise  expressly  provided  in  this
Act, the Tribunal shall exercise, on and from the  appointed  day,  all  the
jurisdiction, powers and authority exercisable under this  Act  in  relation
to appeal against any order, decision,  finding  or  sentence  passed  by  a
court martial or any matter connected therewith or incidental therto.

 (2) Any person aggrieved by an order, decision, finding or sentence  passed
by a court martial may prefer an appeal in  such  form,  manner  and  within
such time as may be prescribed.

(3) The Tribunal shall have power to grant bail to any person accused of  an
offence and in military custody, with or without  any  conditions  which  it
considers necessary:

Provided that no accused person  shall  be  so  released  if  there  appears
reasonable ground for believing that  he  has  been  guilty  of  an  offence
punishable with death or imprisonment for life.

(4) The Tribunal shall  allow  an  appeal  against  conviction  by  a  court
martial where -

the finding of the court martial is legally  not  sustainable   due  to  any
reason whatsoever; or


the finding involves wrong decision on a question of law; or


there was a material irregularity in the course of the  trial  resulting  in
miscarriage of justice,

but, in any other case, may dismiss the appeal where the Tribunal  considers
that no miscarriage of justice is  likely  to  be  caused  or  has  actually
resulted to the appellant:

Provided that no order dismissing  the  appeal  by  the  Tribunal  shall  be
passed unless such  order  is  made  after  recording  reasons  therefor  in
writing.

(5)  The  Tribunal  may  allow  an  appeal  against  conviction,  and   pass
appropriate order thereon.

(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions  of  this
section, the Tribunal shall have the power to-

substitute for the findings of the court martial, a finding  of  guilty  for
any other offence for which the offender  could  have  been  lawfully  found
guilty by the court martial and pass  a  sentence  afresh  for  the  offence
specified or involved in such findings under  the  provisions  of  the  Army
Act, 1950 (46 of 1950) or the Navy Act, 1957 (62 of 1957) or the  Air  Force
Act, 1950, (45 of 1950) as the case may be; or

if sentence is found to be excessive, illegal or unjust, the Tribunal may-

 remit the whole or any part of the sentence, with  or  without  conditions;
(ii) mitigate the punishment awarded;

(iii)       commute such punishment to any lesser punishment or  punishments
mentioned in the Army Act, 1950, (46 of 1950) the  Navy  Act,  1957  (62  of
1957) and the Air Force Act, 1950, (45 of 1950) as the case may be;

enhance the sentence awarded by a court -martial:

Provided that no such sentence shall be enhanced unless  the  appellant  has
been given an opportunity of being heard;

(d)    release the appellant, if sentenced to imprisonment, on  parole  with
or without conditions;

suspend a sentence of imprisonment;

pass any other order as it may think appropriate.


(7) Notwithstanding any other provisions in this Act, for  the  purposes  of
this section, the Tribunal shall be deemed to be a criminal  court  for  the
purposes of sections 175, 178, 179, 180, 193, 195, 196 or 228 (45  of  1860)
of the  Indian  Penal  Code  and  Chapter  XXVI  of  the  Code  of  Criminal
Procedure, 1973. (2 of 1974)."

      Sub-section (2) of Section 15 specifies the right  of  any  person  to
prefer an appeal against order, decision, finding or sentence  passed  by  a
Court-Martial.
9.    Chapter V of the Act relates to appeal. Section 30 which provides  for
an appeal to the Supreme Court and Section 31 deals with  leave  to  appeal.
The said Sections read as under:
"Section 30. Appeal to Supreme Court :-(1)  Subject  to  the  provisions  of
section 31, an appeal shall lie to  the  Supreme  Court  against  the  final
decision or order of the Tribunal (other than an order passed under  section
19):

Provided that such appeal is preferred within a period  of  ninety  days  of
the said decision or order:

Provided further that there shall be  no  appeal  against  an  interlocutory
order of the Tribunal.

(2) An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court as of right from any  order  or
decision of the Tribunal in the exercise of its jurisdiction to  punish  for
contempt: .

Provided that an appeal  under  this  sub-section  shall  be  filed  in  the
Supreme Court within  sixty  days  from  the  date  of  the  order  appealed
against.

(3) Pending any appeal under sub-section (2), the Supreme  Court  may  order
that-

the execution of the punishment or the order appealed against be  suspended;
or

if the appellant is in confinement, he be released on bail:

Provided that where an appellant satisfies the Tribunal that he  intends  to
prefer an  appeal,  the  Tribunal  may  also  exercise  any  of  the  powers
conferred under clause (a) or clause (b), as the case may be.

Section 31. Leave to appeal.- (1) An appeal to the Supreme Court  shall  lie
with the leave of the Tribunal; and such leave shall not be  granted  unless
it is certified by the Tribunal that  a  point  of  law  of  general  public
importance is involved in the decision, or it appears to the  Supreme  Court
that the point is one which ought to be considered by that Court.

(2) An application to the Tribunal for leave to appeal to the Supreme  Court
shall be made within a period of thirty days beginning with the date of  the
decision of the Tribunal and an application to the Supreme Court  for  leave
shall be made within a period of thirty days  beginning  with  the  date  on
which the application for leave is refused by the Tribunal.

(3) An appeal shall be treated as pending until any  application  for  leave
to appeal is disposed of and if  leave  to  appeal  is  granted,  until  the
appeal is disposed of; and an application  for  leave  to  appeal  shall  be
treated as disposed of at the expiration of the time within which  it  might
have been made, but it is not made within that time."

10.   Section 32 empowers the Supreme Court to condone  the  delay  i.e.  to
extend the time within which an appeal may be preferred  by  the  person  to
the Court under Section 30 or sub-section  (2)  or  Section  31.   The  said
Section reads as follows:
"Section 32.Condonation.- The Supreme Court may, upon  an  application  made
at any time by the appellant, extend the time within which an appeal may  be
preferred by him to that Court  under  section  30  or  sub-section  (2)  of
section 31."

11.   Section 33 excludes the  jurisdiction  of  Civil  Courts.  Section  34
deals with transfer of pending cases  before  any  court  including  a  High
Court or other authority immediately before the  date  of  establishment  of
the Tribunal, the cause of action  of  which  would  have  been  within  the
jurisdiction of Tribunal. Sections 33 and 34 read as under:
      "Section 33. Exclusion of jurisdiction of civil courts.- On  and  from
the  date  from  which  any  jurisdiction,  powers  and  authority   becomes
exercisable by the Tribunal in relation-to service matters under  this  Act,
no Civil Court shall have, or be entitled to  exercise,  such  jurisdiction,
power or authority in relation to those service matters.

34. Transfer of pending cases.- (1) Every suit, or other proceeding  pending
before any court including a  High  Court  or  other  authority  immediately
before the date of establishment of the Tribunal under  this  Act,  being  a
suit or proceeding the cause of action whereon it is based, is such that  it
would have been within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, if  it  had  arisen
after such establishment within the jurisdiction  of  such  Tribunal,  stand
transferred on that date to such Tribunal.

(2) Where any suit, or other proceeding stands transferred  from  any  court
including a High Court or other authority to the Tribunal under  sub-section
(1),-

the court or other authority shall, as soon as may be, after such  transfer,
forward the records of such suit, or other proceeding to the Tribunal;

the Tribunal may, on receipt of such records,  proceed  to  deal  with  such
suit, or other proceeding, so far as may be, in the same' manner as  in  the
case of an application made under sub-section (2) of section  14,  from  the
stage which was reached before such transfer or from any  earlier  stage  or
de novo as the Tribunal may deem fit."


12.   A plain reading of the above provisions shows:

   A remedy of appeal to Supreme Court against any  final  order  passed  by
the Tribunal under Section 30 with the leave of  the  Tribunal  is  provided
under Section 31 of the Act.
  In case leave is refused by the Tribunal, an application  to  the  Supreme
Court for leave can be made as provided under sub-section  (1)  and  (2)  of
Section 31 of the Act.
Against any order or decision of the  Tribunal  made  under  Section  19  in
exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt, an  appeal  under  sub-
section (2) of Section 30 lies to the Supreme Court as of right.
Section 33 excludes the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts and  not  the  High
Court under Article 226 and 227. However, Section 34 relates to transfer  of
pending cases, suits and cases pending in other courts  including  the  High
Court.  The  suit  pending  before  any  Court  or  High  Court  may   stand
transferred if the cause of action comes under the jurisdiction of the  Arms
Forces Tribunal Act but it does not affect  the  power  of  the  High  Court
under Section 226 and 227 of the Constitution.
13.   The Parliamentary 10th Standing Committee for  Defence  in  May,  2006
deliberated on the proposed Section 30 and 31 of the  Act.  Chapter  XIV  of
the recorded deliberations provides insight into the legislative intent  and
replies/advice of the Law Ministry, relevant portion of which is  reproduced
below:
"CHAPTER XIV
CLAUSE 30 : JURISDICTION OF TRIBUNAL AND HIGH  COURT             IN  MATTERS
RELATING TO APPEAL
84. Clause 30 provides:-
1. Subject to the provision of section  31,  an  appeal  shall  lie  to  the
Supreme Court against the final decision or order  of  the  Tribunal  (other
than an order passed under section 19):
Provided that such appeal is preferred within a period  of  ninety  days  of
the said decision or order.
Provided further that there shall be  no  appeal  against  an  interlocutory
order of the Tribunal.
2. An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court as of right from  any  order  or
decisions of the Tribunal in the exercise of its jurisdiction to punish  for
contempt.
Provided that an appeal  under  this  sub-section  shall  be  filed  in  the
Supreme Court within  sixty  days  from  the  date  of  the  order  appealed
against.
3. Pending any appeal under sub-section (2), the  Supreme  Court  may  order
that:-
(a) the execution of  the  punishment  or  the  order  appealed  against  be
suspended;
(b) if the appellant is in confinement, he be released on bail;
Provided that where an appellant satisfies the Tribunal that he  intends  to
prefer an  appeal,  the  Tribunal  may  also  exercise  any  of  the  powers
conferred under clause (a) or clause (b), as the case may be.
85. The Committee enquired  about  the  nature  of  the  proposed  Tribunal,
whether it would be a judicial, quasi judicial body in the line  of  Central
Administrative Tribunal, the Ministry replied:-
"Since the Armed Forces Tribunal  would  be  dealing  with  offences,legally
awardable punishments and termination of service etc. and  the  Tribunal  is
being armed with the powers of contempt, it would be  a  judicial  body.  It
would be a permanent Tribunal and a Court of record."
86. When Committee asked, whether appeal would be preferred in  High  Courts
or Supreme Court, the Ministry stated:
"Clause 30 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Bill, 2005 provides that  an  appeal
against the final decision or order of Armed Forces Tribunal  shall  lie  to
the Supreme Court. Under the Constitution, the power of  superintendence  of
High Court is already excluded against a Court Martial verdict."
87. On a specific query to the representatives of  the  Ministry  of  Law  &
Justice, on the issue of appeal against the  order  of  the  Tribunal,  they
stated:-
"In a case, L. Chandrakumar's  case,  which  was  relating  to  the  Central
Administrative Tribunal, which was established  by  an  Act  of  Parliament,
similar provisions were there where an appeal  against  the  orders  of  the
Central Administrative Tribunal was preferred to the Supreme Court  but  for
some  time  it  was  entertained  by  the  Supreme  Court.  But  later   on,
subsequently in L. Chandrakumar's case, the  Supreme  Court  said  that  the
powers of the High Court under articles 226 and 227 cannot be taken away  by
an Act of Parliament. Thus, you  know  again  from  the  orders  of  Central
Administrative Tribunal, we have started  preferring  appeals  to  the  High
Court under article 226."
88. They further supplemented:
"It is not only in one case but also subsequently in a number of cases,  the
Supreme Court reiterated that principle. Many High  Courts  have  reiterated
that principle. When in another Bill, that is,  National  Tax  Tribunal  was
being processed in this Committee Room  by  another  Committee,  there  also
many hon. Members of  the  Standing  Committee  said  that  in  view  of  L.
Chandrakumar's case, you cannot have a touch tribunal  from  which  you  can
directly go to the  Supreme  Court  and  we  had  accede  that  before  that
Committee tha article 226 is still there with the  High  Court.  The  minute
you abolish article 226, then it will be treated by the Supreme Court  as  a
violation of the essential characteristics of the  basic  structure  of  the
Constitution, which is a limitation even  on  the  power  of  Parliament  to
amend the Constitution."
89. When the Committee  asked  the  Ministry  of  Law  &  Justice  regarding
possible solution of it, they stated that:
"We have processed the Bill. In the Bill we have taken the  precaution  that
the Chairman of the Tribunal should be a retired judge or  a  sitting  judge
of the Supreme Court. If the Chairman of the Tribunal himself is  a  Supreme
Court judge, then  you  know  the  High  Courts  are  slightly  hesitant  in
interfering with the judgment.
That is only thing but if a judge  finds  that  there  is  a  Constitutional
violation of certain fundamental rights or there is  a  gross  arbitrariness
in an order of the Tribunal, then it will exercise  its  jurisdiction  under
article 226."
In this connection, the Ministry of Defence in a written note stated:
"The  proposed  Armed  Forces  Tribunal  Bill,  2005  does  not  envisage  a
situation where an accused can approach the High Court in an appeal  against
the order of the Tribunal. There can be no equation between the  High  Court
and any other Tribunal. On the other hand, analogy can be drawn between  the
CAT and the proposed Armed Forces  Tribunal.  In  CAT,  single  member  also
constitutes a Bench [section 5(6)]. However, in the Armed  Forces  Tribunal,
the minimum number of members to constitute a  Bench  is  two.  Further,  as
opposed to the CAT where the Chairperson is a serving or retired High  Court
judge, the Chairperson of the Armed Forces Tribunal  is  a  retired  Supreme
Court Judge or retired Chief Justice of  the  High  Court.  Further  Article
227(iv) of the Constitution excludes the power of  superintendence  of  High
Courts over any court or Tribunal constituted by or under any  law  relating
to the Armed Forces. Therefore, an accused cannot go to the  High  Court  in
appeal against the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal."
90. The Committee note that clause 30 provides that  subject  to  provisions
of section 31, an appeal shall  lie  to  Supreme  Court  against  the  final
decision or order of the Tribunal. The  Committee,  however,  are  given  to
understand that in the case of L. Chanderkumar,  where  appeal  against  the
order of the  Central  Administrative  Tribunal  was  preferred  to  Supreme
Court, the Court stated that powers of the High  Court  under  Articles  226
and 227 cannot be taken away by an Act of Parliament. The Committee  are  of
the view that the appeal against the Tribunal should  be  preferred  as  per
the provisions of the Constitution.
NEW DELHI; BALASAHEB VIKHE PATIL,
16 May, 2006 Chairman,
26 Vaisakha, 1928 (Saka)Standing Committee on Defence."

14.   Therefore, it is clear from the scheme of the  Act  that  jurisdiction
of the Tribunal constituted under  the  Armed  Forces  Tribunal  Act  is  in
substitution of the jurisdiction of Civil Court and the High  Court  so  far
as it relates to suit relating  to  condition  of  service  of  the  persons
subject to Army Act, 1950, the Navy Act, 1957 and the Air Force  Act,  1950,
which are special laws enacted by the  Parliament  by  virtue  of  exclusive
legislative power vested under Article 246  of  the  Constitution  of  India
read with Entries 1 & 2 of List I of the Seventh Schedule.

15.   Constitution of India
In this context, it is also necessary to notice Articles 32 and  33  of  the
Constitution. Article 32 falls under Chapter III of the  Constitution  which
deals with fundamental right.  The said  article  guarantees  the  right  to
move  before  the  Supreme  Court  by  appropriate   proceedings   for   the
enforcement of the fundamental rights conferred by the  Part  III.   Article
32 reads as follows:
"Article 32. Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this  Part.-(1)
The right to move the Supreme  Court  by  appropriate  proceedings  for  the
enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed.

(2) The Supreme Court shall have power to  issue  directions  or  orders  or
writs,  including  writs  in  the  nature  of   habeas   corpus,   mandamus,
prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate,  for
the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part.

(3) Without prejudice to the  powers  conferred  on  the  Supreme  Court  by
clauses (1) and (2), Parliament may  by  law  empower  any  other  court  to
exercise within the local limits of its  jurisdiction  all  or  any  of  the
powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause (2).
(4) The right guaranteed by this article shall not be  suspended  except  as
otherwise provided for by this Constitution."

16.   Article 33  empowers  the  Parliament  to  restrict  or  abrogate  the
application  of  fundamental  rights  in  relation  to  Armed  Forces,  Para
Military Forces,  the  Police  etc.  (refer:  Ous  Kutilingal  Achudan  Nair
vs.Union of India, (1976) 2 SCC 780).  The said article reads as follows:

 "Article 33. Power of Parliament to modify the  rights  conferred  by  this
Part in their application to Forces, etc.-Parliament may, by law,  determine
to what extent any of the rights conferred by  this  Part  shall,  in  their
application to,-

(a)   the members of the Armed Forces; or

(b)   the members of the Forces  charged  with  the  maintenance  of  public
order; or

(c)   persons employed in any bureau or other  organisation  established  by
the State for purposes of intelligence or counter intelligence; or


(d)   person employed in,  or  in  connection  with,  the  telecommunication
systems set up for  the  purposes  of  any  Force,  bureau  or  organisation
referred to in clauses (a) to (c),
be restricted or abrogated so as to ensure the  proper  discharge  of  their
duties and the maintenance of discipline among them."

17.   Article 226 empowers High Court to issue prerogative writs.  The  said
Article reads as under:
      "Article 226.Power  of  High  Courts  to  issue  certain  writs.-  (1)
Notwithstanding anything in article 32 every High Court  shall  have  power,
throughout the territories in relation to which it  exercises  jurisdiction,
toissue to any person or authority,  including  in  appropriate  cases,  any
Government, within those territories directions, orders or writs,  including
1[writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo  warranto
and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of  any  of  the  rights
conferred by Part III and for any other purpose.

(2) The power conferred by clause (1) to issue directions, orders  or  writs
to any Government, authority or person may also be  exercised  by  any  High
Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to the  territories  within  which
the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises  for  the  exercise  of  such
power, notwithstanding that the seat of such Government or authority or  the
residence of such person is not within those territories.

(3) Where any party against  whom  an  interim  order,  whether  by  way  of
injunction or  stay  or  in  any  other  manner,  is  made  on,  or  in  any
proceedings relating to, a petition under clause (1), without-

furnishing to such party copies  of  such  petition  and  all  documents  in
support of the plea for such interim order; and

(b)  giving such party an opportunity of being heard, makes  an  application
to the High Court for the vacation of such order and  furnishes  a  copy  of
such application to the party in whose favour such order has  been  made  or
the counsel of such party, the High Court shall dispose of  the  application
within a period of two weeks from the date on which it is received  or  from
the date on which the copy of such application is  so  furnished,  whichever
is later, or where the High Court is closed on the last day of that  period,
before the expiry of the next day afterwards on  which  the  High  Court  is
open; and if the application is  not  so  disposed  of,  the  interim  order
shall, on the expiry of that period, or, as the case may be, the  expiry  of
the said next day, stand vacated.

(4) The power conferred on a High Court by this  article  shall  not  be  in
derogation of the power conferred on the Supreme  Court  by  clause  (2)  of
article 32."




18.   Article 227 relates to power of superintendence of  High  Courts  over
all Courts and Tribunals. It reads as follows:

"Article 227. Power of superintendence over all courts by the  High  Court.-
(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 provision, the High Court may-

call for returns from such courts;

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."

19.   In this context, it is also necessary to notice  Article  136  of  the
Constitution which provides special leave to appeal to Supreme Court:
        "136.Special   leave   to   appeal   by   the   Supreme   Court.-(1)
Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, the  Supreme  Court  may,  in  its
discretion, grant  special  leave  to  appeal  from  any  judgment,  decree,
determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed  or  made  by
any court or tribunal in the territory of India.

(2) Nothing in clause  (1)  shall  apply  to  any  judgment,  determination,
sentence or order passed or made by any court or tribunal constituted by  or
under any law relating to the Armed Forces."


      In view of clause (2) of Article  136  which  expressly  excludes  the
judgments or orders passed by any Court or Tribunal constituted by or  under
any law relating to Armed Forces, the aggrieved persons  cannot  seek  leave
under Article 136 of Constitution of India; to appeal from such judgment  or
order. But right to appeal is available  under  Section  30  with  leave  to
appeal under Section 31 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.
20.   We may also refer to Article 227(4) of the Constitution,  which  reads
as under:
"Article 227(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."

      Thus, we find that there  is  a  constitutional  bar  not  only  under
Article 136(2) but also under Article 227(4) of the  Constitution  of  India
with regard to entertaining any determination or order passed by  any  court
or Tribunal under law relating to Armed Forces.
21.   Judicial review under Article 32 and 226 is a  basic  feature  of  the
Constitution beyond the plea of amendability. While under Article 32 of  the
Constitution  a  person  has  a  right  to  move  before  Supreme  Court  by
appropriate proceedings for enforcement of the rights conferred by Part  III
of the Constitution, no fundament right can be  claimed  by  any  person  to
move before the High Court by appropriate proceedings under Article 226  for
enforcement of the rights conferred by the Constitution or Statute.
22.   In L. Chandra kumar vs. Union of India, (1997)3 SCC  261  a  Bench  of
seven-Judge  while  dealing  with  the  essential  and  basic  features   of
Constitution - power of review and jurisdiction conferred on the High  Court
under Article 226/227 and on the Supreme Court  under  Article  32  held  as
follows:


      "75. In Keshav Singh,  (1965) 1 SCR 413  while addressing this issue,
Gajendragadkar, C.J. stated as follows: (SCC at pp. 493-494)

"If the power of the High Courts under Article  226  and  the  authority  of
this Court under Article 32 are not  subject  to  any  exceptions,  then  it
would be futile to contend that a citizen cannot move  the  High  Courts  or
this Court to invoke their jurisdiction even in cases where his  fundamental
rights have been violated. The existence of judicial power  in  that  behalf
must necessarily and inevitably postulate the existence of a  right  in  the
citizen to move the Court in that behalf; otherwise the power  conferred  on
the High Courts and this Court would be rendered virtually meaningless.  Let
it not be forgotten that the judicial power conferred  on  the  High  Courts
and this Court is meant for the  protection  of  the  citizens'  fundamental
rights, and so, in the existence  of  the  said  judicial  power  itself  is
necessarily involved the right of the citizen to appeal to  the  said  power
in a proper case."
(emphasis added)

76. To express our opinion on  the  issue  whether  the  power  of  judicial
review vested in the High Courts and in the  Supreme  Court  under  Articles
226/227 and 32 is part of the basic structure of the Constitution,  we  must
first attempt to understand what constitutes  the  basic  structure  of  the
Constitution. The doctrine of basic structure  was  evolved  in  Kesavananda
Bharati case (1993 4 SCC 225). However, as already mentioned, that case  did
not lay down that the specific and particular  features  mentioned  in  that
judgment alone would constitute the basic  structure  of  our  Constitution.
Indeed, in the judgments of Shelat and Grover,  JJ.,  Hegde  and  Mukherjea,
JJ. and Jaganmohan Reddy, J., there are specific observations to the  effect
that their list of essential features comprising the basic structure of  the
Constitution are illustrative and are not  intended  to  be  exhaustive.  In
Indira Gandhi case, (1975 Supp SCC 1), Chandrachud, J. held that the  proper
approach for  a  Judge  who  is  confronted  with  the  question  whether  a
particular facet of the Constitution is part of the basic structure,  is  to
examine, in each individual case, the place of  the  particular  feature  in
the  scheme  of  our  Constitution,  its  object  and   purpose,   and   the
consequences of its denial  on  the  integrity  of  our  Constitution  as  a
fundamental instrument for the governance of the country. (supra at pp. 751-
752). This approach was specifically adopted  by  Bhagwati,  J.  in  Minerva
Mills case [(1980) 3 SCC 625] (at pp. 671-672) and is not  regarded  as  the
definitive test in this field of Constitutional Law.

77. We find that the various  factors  mentioned  in  the  test  evolved  by
Chandrachud, J.  have  already  been  considered  by  decisions  of  various
Benches of this Court that have been  referred  to  in  the  course  of  our
analysis. From their conclusions, many of which have been  extracted  by  us
in toto, it appears that this Court  has  always  considered  the  power  of
judicial review vested in the High Courts and in this Court  under  Articles
226 and 32 respectively, enabling legislative action to be subjected to  the
scrutiny of superior courts, to be integral to  our  constitutional  scheme.
While several  judgments  have  made  specific  references  to  this  aspect
[Gajendragadkar, C.J. in Keshav Singh  case,  Beg,  J.  and  Khanna,  J.  in
Kesavananda  Bharati  [pic]case,  Chandrachud,  C.J.  and  Bhagwati,  J.  in
Minerva Mills, Chandrachud, C.J. in Fertilizer  Kamgar[(1981)  1  scc  568],
K.N. Singh, J. in Delhi Judicial Service Assn. [(1991)4 scc 406], etc.]  the
rest have made general observations highlighting the  significance  of  this
feature."

23.   In S.N. Mukherjee vs.Union of  India,  (1990)4  SCC  594,  this  Court
noticed the special provision in regard to the members of the  Armed  Forces
in the Constitution of India and  held as follows:
[pic]" 42. Before referring to the relevant provisions of the  Act  and  the
Rules it may be mentioned that the  Constitution  contains  certain  special
provisions in regard to members of the Armed  Forces.  Article  33  empowers
Parliament to make law determining the extent to which  any  of  the  rights
conferred by Part III shall, in their application  to  the  members  of  the
Armed Forces  be  restricted  or  abrogated  so  as  to  ensure  the  proper
discharge of their duties and the maintenance of  discipline  amongst  them.
By clause (2) of Article 136 the appellate jurisdiction of this Court  under
Article 136 of the  Constitution  has  been  excluded  in  relation  to  any
judgment, determination, sentence or order passed or made by  any  court  or
tribunal constituted by or under any  law  relating  to  the  Armed  Forces.
Similarly clause (4) of Article 227 denies to the High Courts the  power  of
superintendence over any court or tribunal constituted by or under  any  law
relating to the Armed Forces. This Court  under  Article  32  and  the  High
Courts under Article 226 have, however, the  power  of  judicial  review  in
respect of proceedings of courts  martial  and  the  proceedings  subsequent
thereto and can grant  appropriate  relief  if  the  said  proceedings  have
resulted in denial of the fundamental rights guaranteed under  Part  III  of
the Constitution or if the said proceedings  suffer  from  a  jurisdictional
error or any error of law apparent on the face of the record."


24.   A three-Judge Bench of this Court in R.K. Jain vs. Union  of  India  &
ors., (1993) 4 SCC 119, observed:
"66. In S.P. Sampath Kumar v. Union  of  India  this  Court  held  that  the
primary duty of the judiciary is to interpret the Constitution and the  laws
and this  would  predominantly  be  a  matter  fit  to  be  decided  by  the
judiciary, as judiciary alone would be possessed of expertise in this  field
and secondly  the  constitutional  and  legal  protection  afforded  to  the
citizen would  become  illusory,  if  it  were  left  to  the  executive  to
determine the legality of its own action. The Constitution  has,  therefore,
created an independent machinery i.e. judiciary to resolve  disputes,  which
is vested with the power of judicial review to  determine  the  legality  of
the legislative and executive actions and  to  ensure  compliance  with  the
requirements of law on the part of  the  executive  and  other  authorities.
This function is discharged by the judiciary  by  exercising  the  power  of
judicial review which is a most potent weapon in the hands of the  judiciary
for maintenance of the rule of law. The  power  of  judicial  review  is  an
integral part of our constitutional system and without it, there will be  no
government of laws and the rule of law would become a teasing  illusion  and
a promise of unreality. The judicial  review,  therefore,  is  a  basic  and
essential feature of the Constitution and it  cannot  be  abrogated  without
affecting the basic structure of the Constitution. The basic  and  essential
feature of judicial review cannot be dispensed with but it would  be  within
the competence of Parliament  to  amend  the  Constitution  and  to  provide
alternative   institutional   mechanism   or   arrangement   for    judicial
[pic]review, provided it is no less efficacious  than  the  High  Court.  It
must, therefore, be read as implicit in the constitutional scheme  that  the
law excluding the jurisdiction of the High Court under Articles 226 and  227
permissible under it, must not leave a void  but  it  must  set  up  another
effective institutional  mechanism  or  authority  and  vest  the  power  of
judicial review in it which must be equally  effective  and  efficacious  in
exercising the power of judicial review.  The  tribunal  set  up  under  the
Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985  was  required  to  interpret  and  apply
Articles 14, 15, 16 and 311 in quite a large  number  of  cases.  Therefore,
the personnel manning the administrative tribunal  in  their  determinations
not only require judicial approach but also knowledge and expertise in  that
particular branch of constitutional and administrative law. The efficacy  of
the administrative tribunal and the legal input  would  undeniably  be  more
important and sacrificing the legal  input  and  not  giving  it  sufficient
weightage would definitely impair the  efficacy  and  effectiveness  of  the
Administrative Tribunal. Therefore, it was held  that  an  appropriate  rule
should be made to recruit the members; and to consult the Chief  Justice  of
India  in  recommending  appointment  of  the  Chairman,  Vice-Chairman  and
Members of the Tribunal and to  constitute  a  committee  presided  over  by
Judge of the Supreme Court to recruit the members for appointment.  In  M.B.
Majumdar v. Union of India when the members of CAT  claimed  parity  of  pay
and superannuation as is available to the Judges of  the  High  Court,  this
Court held that they are not on  a  par  with  the  judges  but  a  separate
mechanism created for their appointment pursuant to  Article  323-A  of  the
Constitution. Therefore, what was meant by this Court in Sampath Kumar  case
ratio is that the tribunals when exercise the power and functions,  the  Act
created institutional alternative mechanism or authority to  adjudicate  the
service disputations. It must be effective and efficacious to  exercise  the
power of judicial review. This Court did not appear to have meant  that  the
tribunals are substitutes of the High Court under Articles 226  and  227  of
the Constitution. J.B. Chopra v. Union of India merely  followed  the  ratio
of Sampath Kumar."


25.   From the aforesaid decisions of this Court  in  L.  Chandra  and  S.N.
Mukherjee, we find that the power of judicial  review  vested  in  the  High
Court under Article 226 is one  of  the  basic  essential  features  of  the
Constitution and any legislation including Armed  Forces  Act,  2007  cannot
override or curtail jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of  the
Constitution of India.
26.   Basic  principle  for  exercising  power  under  Article  226  of  the
Constitution:
      In Babubhai Muljibhai Patel vs. Nandlal  Khodidas  Barot  and  others,
AIR 1974 SC 2105 this Court held as follows:
      "9.....Exercise of the jurisdiction is  no  doubt  discretionary,  but
the discretion must be exercised on  sound  judicial  principles.  When  the
petition  raises  complex  questions  of   fact,   which   may   for   their
determination require oral evidence to be taken, and  on  that  account  the
High Court is of the view that  the  dispute  should  not  appropriately  be
tried in a writ petition, the High Court may decline to try a petition  (See
Gunwant Kaur v.Bhatinda Municipality,  AIR  1970  SC  802).  If,  however,on
consideration of the nature of the controversy, the High Court  decides,  as
in the present case, that it should go into a disputed question of fact  and
the discretion exercised by the High  Court  appears  to  be  sound  and  in
conformity with judicial principles,  this  Court  would  not  interfere  in
appeal with the order made by the High Court in this respect."

27.   In Mafatlal Industries Ltd. and others vs.Union of India  and  others,
(1997) 5 SCC 536, a nine-Judge Bench of this  Court  while  considering  the
Excise Act and Customs Act held that the  jurisdiction  of  the  High  Court
under Article  226  and  this  Court  under  Article  32  though  cannot  be
circumscribed by the provisions of the said enactments, they will  certainly
have due regard to the legislative intent evidenced  by  the  provisions  of
the said Acts and would exercise  their  jurisdiction  consistent  with  the
provisions of the Act. This Court held:

"108. The discussion in the judgment yields the following  propositions.  We
may forewarn that these propositions are set out  merely  for  the  sake  of
convenient reference and are not supposed to be exhaustive. In case  of  any
doubt or ambiguity in these propositions,  reference  must  be  had  to  the
discussion and propositions in the body of the judgment.
   (i)...........While the jurisdiction of the  High  Courts  under  Article
226 - and of this Court under Article 32 - cannot be  circumscribed  by  the
provisions of the said enactments, they will certainly have  due  regard  to
the legislative intent evidenced by the [pic]provisions  of  the  said  Acts
and would exercise their jurisdiction consistent with the provisions of  the
Act. The writ petition will be considered and disposed of in  the  light  of
and in accordance with the provisions of  Section  11-B.  This  is  for  the
reason that the power under Article 226 has to be  exercised  to  effectuate
the rule of law and not for abrogating it.

Xxx         xxx        xxx        xxx

28.    In  Kanaiyalal  Lalchand  and  Sachdev  and  others  vs.   State   of
Maharasthra and  others,  (2011)  2  SCC  782,  this  Court  considered  the
question of maintainability  of  the  writ  petition  while  an  alternative
remedy is available. This Court upheld  the  decision  of  the  Bombay  High
Court dismissing the writ petition filed by the appellants  therein  on  the
ground of existence of an efficacious alternative remedy  under  Section  17
of SARFASI Act and held:
"23. In our  opinion,  therefore,  the  High  Court  rightly  dismissed  the
petition on the ground that an  efficacious  remedy  was  available  to  the
appellants under Section 17 of the Act. It is well settled  that  ordinarily
relief under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of India is not  available
if an efficacious alternative remedy is available to any  aggrieved  person.
(See Sadhana Lodh v. National Insurance Co.  Ltd.,  Surya  Dev  Rai  v.  Ram
Chander Rai and SBI v. Allied Chemical Laboratories7.)

24.  In  City  and  Industrial  Development   Corpn.   v.   Dosu   Aardeshir
Bhiwandiwala this Court had observed that: (SCC p. 175, para 30)

"30. The Court while exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226 is  duty-
bound to consider whether:

(a) adjudication of the writ petition  involves  any  complex  and  disputed
questions of facts and whether they can be satisfactorily resolved;

(b) the petition reveals all material facts;

(c)  the  petitioner  has  any  alternative  or  effective  remedy  for  the
resolution of the dispute;

(d) the person invoking the jurisdiction is guilty of unexplained delay  and
laches;

(e) ex facie barred by any laws of limitation;

(f) grant of relief is against public policy or barred  by  any  valid  law;
and host of other factors."

29.   In Nivedita Sharma vs. Cellular Operators  Association  of  India  and
others, (2011)14 SCC 337, this Court noticed that when a statutory forum  is
created by law for redressal of grievances, a writ petition  should  not  be
entertained ignoring the  statutory dispensation. The Court further  noticed
the previous decisions of this Court wherein the Court adverted to the  rule
of  self-restraint  that  writ  petition  will  not  be  entertained  if  an
effective remedy is available to the aggrieved person as follows:
13. In Titaghur  Paper  Mills  Co.  Ltd.  v.  State  of  Orissa  this  Court
observed: (SCC pp. 440-41, para 11)

"11. ... It is now well recognised  that  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.  This  rule  was
stated with great clarity by Willes, J. in Wolverhampton New Waterworks  Co.
v. Hawkesford in the following passage: (ER p. 495)

'... There  are  three  classes  of  cases  in  which  a  liability  may  be
established founded upon a statute. ... But there  is  a  third  class  viz.
where a liability not existing at 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,  and  it  is  not
competent to the party to pursue the  course  applicable  to  cases  of  the
second class. The form given by the statute  must  be  adopted  and  adhered
to.'

The rule laid down in this passage was approved by the  House  of  Lords  in
Neville v. London Express Newspapers Ltd. and has  been  reaffirmed  by  the
Privy Council in Attorney General of Trinidad and  Tobago  v.  Gordon  Grant
and Co. Ltd. and Secy. of State v. Mask and Co. It has also been held to  be
equally applicable to enforcement of rights, and has been followed  by  this
Court throughout. The High Court was therefore justified in  dismissing  the
writ petitions in limine."

14. In Mafatlal Industries Ltd. v. Union of  India  B.P.  Jeevan  Reddy,  J.
(speaking for the majority of the larger Bench) observed: (SCC p. 607,  para
77)

"77. ... So far as the jurisdiction of the High Court under  Article  226-or
for that  matter,  the  jurisdiction  of  this  Court  under  Article  32-is
concerned, it is obvious that the provisions  of  the  Act  cannot  bar  and
curtail  these  remedies.  It  is,  however,  equally  obvious  that   while
[pic]exercising the power under Article  226/Article  32,  the  Court  would
certainly take note of the legislative intent manifested in  the  provisions
of the Act  and  would  exercise  their  jurisdiction  consistent  with  the
provisions of the enactment."

15. In the judgments relied upon by Shri Vaidyanathan, which, by and  large,
reiterate the proposition laid down in Baburam  Prakash  Chandra  Maheshwari
v. Antarim Zila Parishad, it has been held that  an  alternative  remedy  is
not a bar to the entertaining of writ petition filed for the enforcement  of
any of the fundamental rights or where there has been  a  violation  of  the
principles of natural justice or where the order under challenge  is  wholly
without jurisdiction or the vires of the statute is under challenge.

16. It can, thus, be said that this Court has recognised some exceptions  to
the rule of alternative  remedy.  However,  the  proposition  laid  down  in
Thansingh Nathmal v. Supt. of Taxes8 and other similar  judgments  that  the
High  Court  will  not  entertain  a  petition  under  Article  226  of  the
Constitution  if  an  effective  alternative  remedy  is  available  to  the
aggrieved person or the statute under which the  action  complained  of  has
been taken itself contains a mechanism  for  redressal  of  grievance  still
holds the field."

30.   In Executive Engineer, Southern Electricity Supply Company  of  Orissa
Limited (SOUTHCO) and another vs. Sri Seetaram Rice Mill, (2012) 2 SCC  108,
a three-Judge Bench held:
"80. It is a settled canon of law that the High  Court  would  not  normally
interfere  in  exercise  of  its  jurisdiction  under  Article  226  of  the
Constitution of India where statutory alternative remedy  is  available.  It
is equally settled that this canon of law is not  free  of  exceptions.  The
courts, including this  Court,  have  taken  the  view  that  the  statutory
remedy, if provided under a specific  [pic]law,  would  impliedly  oust  the
jurisdiction of the  civil  courts.  The  High  Court  in  exercise  of  its
extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the  Constitution  of  India
can entertain writ or appropriate proceedings  despite  availability  of  an
alternative remedy. This jurisdiction, the High Court  would  exercise  with
some circumspection in exceptional  cases,  particularly,  where  the  cases
involve a pure question of law or vires  of  an  Act  are  challenged.  This
class of cases we are mentioning by way of illustration and  should  not  be
understood to be an exhaustive exposition of law which, in our  opinion,  is
neither practical nor possible to state with precision. The availability  of
alternative statutory or other remedy  by  itself  may  not  operate  as  an
absolute bar for exercise of jurisdiction by the courts.  It  will  normally
depend upon the facts  and  circumstances  of  a  given  case.  The  further
question that would inevitably come up for consideration  before  the  Court
even in such cases would be as to what extent the  jurisdiction  has  to  be
exercised.

81. Should the courts determine  on  merits  of  the  case  or  should  they
preferably answer the preliminary issue or jurisdictional issue  arising  in
the facts of the case and remit the matter for consideration  on  merits  by
the competent authority? Again, it  is  somewhat  difficult  to  state  with
absolute clarity any principle governing such exercise of  jurisdiction.  It
always will depend upon the facts of a given case. We are of the  considered
view that interest of administration of justice shall  be  better  subserved
if the cases of the present kind are heard by the  courts  only  where  they
involve primary questions of jurisdiction or the matters  which  go  to  the
very root of jurisdiction and where the authorities have  acted  beyond  the
provisions of the Act. However,  it  should  only  be  for  the  specialised
tribunal or the appellate authorities to examine the  merits  of  assessment
or even the factual matrix of the case."

31.   In Cicily Kallarackal vs. Vehicle Factory 2012(8) SCC 524, the
Division Bench of this Court held:
"4. Despite this, we cannot help but state in absolute terms that it is  not
appropriate for the High Courts to entertain writ  petitions  under  Article
226  of  the  Constitution  of  India  against  the  orders  passed  by  the
Commission, as a statutory appeal is provided and lies to this  Court  under
the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.  Once  the  legislature
has provided for a [pic]statutory appeal to a higher  court,  it  cannot  be
proper exercise  of  jurisdiction  to  permit  the  parties  to  bypass  the
statutory appeal to such higher court and entertain  petitions  in  exercise
of its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.  Even  in  the
present  case,  the  High  Court  has  not  exercised  its  jurisdiction  in
accordance with law. The case is one of improper exercise  of  jurisdiction.
It is not expected of us to deal with this issue at any  greater  length  as
we are dismissing this petition on other grounds.
            XXX  XXX   XXX  XXX

9. ........, we hereby make it clear that the orders of the  Commission  are
incapable of being questioned  under  the  writ  jurisdiction  of  the  High
Court, as a statutory appeal in terms of Section  27-A(1)(c)  lies  to  this
Court. Therefore, we have no hesitation in issuing a  direction  of  caution
that it will not be a proper exercise of jurisdiction by the High Courts  to
entertain writ petitions against such orders of the Commission."

32.   Another Division Bench of this Court in  Commissioner  of  Income  Tax
and others vs. Chhabil Dass Agrawal, (2014)1 SCC 603 held:
"11. Before discussing the fact proposition, we would notice  the  principle
of law as laid down by this Court. It is settled law that  non-entertainment
of petitions under 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.
However, the  High  Court  must  not  interfere  if  there  is  an  adequate
efficacious alternative remedy  available  to  the  petitioner  and  he  has
approached the High Court without availing the same unless he has  made  out
an exceptional case warranting such interference or there  exist  sufficient
grounds to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction  under  Article  226.  (See
State of U.P. v. Mohd. Nooh, Titaghur Paper  Mills  Co.  Ltd.  v.  State  of
Orissa, Harbanslal Sahnia v. Indian Oil Corpn. Ltd. and  State  of  H.P.  v.
Gujarat Ambuja Cement Ltd.

12. The Constitution Benches of this Court in K.S. Rashid and Son v.  Income
Tax Investigation Commission, Sangram Singh v. Election Tribunal,  Union  of
India v. T.R. Varma, State of U.P. v. Mohd. Nooh2 and K.S. Venkataraman  and
Co. (P) Ltd. v. State of Madras have held that though  Article  226  confers
very wide powers in the matter of issuing  writs  on  the  High  Court,  the
remedy of writ is absolutely discretionary in character. If the  High  Court
is satisfied that the aggrieved party  can  have  an  adequate  or  suitable
relief elsewhere, it can refuse to exercise its jurisdiction. The Court,  in
extraordinary circumstances, may exercise the  power  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.  [See
N.T. Veluswami Thevar v. G. Raja Nainar, Municipal [pic]Council,  Khurai  v.
Kamal Kumar, Siliguri Municipality v. Amalendu Das,  S.T.  Muthusami  v.  K.
Natarajan,  Rajasthan  SRTC  v.  Krishna  Kant,  Kerala  SEB  v.  Kurien  E.
Kalathil, A. Venkatasubbiah Naidu v. S. Chellappan, L.L. Sudhakar  Reddy  v.
State of A.P., Shri Sant Sadguru Janardan Swami (Moingiri Maharaj)  Sahakari
Dugdha Utpadak Sanstha v. State of Maharashtra, Pratap  Singh  v.  State  of
Haryana and GKN Driveshafts (India) Ltd. v. ITO.]

13. In Nivedita Sharma v. Cellular Operators Assn. of India, this Court  has
held that where hierarchy of appeals is provided by the statute,  the  party
must exhaust the statutory remedies before resorting  to  writ  jurisdiction
for relief and observed as follows: (SCC pp. 343-45, paras 12-14)

"12. In Thansingh Nathmal v. Supt. of Taxes this Court adverted to the  rule
of self-imposed restraint that the writ petition will not be entertained  if
an effective remedy is available to the aggrieved person and observed:  (AIR
p. 1423, para 7)

'7. ... The High Court does not therefore act as a court of  appeal  against
the decision of a court or tribunal, to correct errors  of  fact,  and  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,  or  even  itself  in
another jurisdiction for obtaining redress  in  the  manner  provided  by  a
statute, the High Court normally will not permit by entertaining a  petition
under Article 226 of  the  Constitution  the  machinery  created  under  the
statute to be bypassed, and will leave the party  applying  to  it  to  seek
resort to the machinery so set up.'

13. In Titaghur  Paper  Mills  Co.  Ltd.  v.  State  of  Orissa  this  Court
observed: (SCC pp. 440-41, para 11)

'11. ... It is now well recognised  that  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.  This  rule  was
stated with great clarity by Willes, J. in Wolverhampton New Waterworks  Co.
v. Hawkesford in the following passage: (ER p. 495)

      xxx        xxx        xxx        xxx

14. In Mafatlal Industries Ltd. v. Union of  India  B.P.  Jeevan  Reddy,  J.
(speaking for the majority of the larger Bench) observed: (SCC p. 607,  para
77)

'77. ... So far as the jurisdiction of the High Court under  Article  226-or
for that  matter,  the  jurisdiction  of  this  Court  under  Article  32-is
concerned, it is obvious that the provisions  of  the  Act  cannot  bar  and
curtail  these  remedies.  It  is,  however,  equally  obvious  that   while
exercising  the  power  under  Article  226/Article  32,  the  Court   would
certainly take note of the legislative intent manifested in  the  provisions
of the Act  and  would  exercise  their  jurisdiction  consistent  with  the
provisions of the enactment.'"


(See G. Veerappa Pillai v. Raman & Raman Ltd., CCE  v.  Dunlop  India  Ltd.,
Ramendra Kishore Biswas v. State of Tripura, Shivgonda Anna Patil  v.  State
of Maharashtra, C.A. Abraham v. ITO, Titaghur Paper Mills Co. Ltd. v.  State
of Orissa, Excise and Taxation Officer-cum-Assessing Authority v. Gopi  Nath
and Sons, Whirlpool Corpn. v. Registrar of Trade Marks, [pic]Tin  Plate  Co.
of India Ltd. v. State of Bihar, Sheela Devi  v.  Jaspal  Singh  and  Punjab
National Bank v. O.C. Krishnan.)

15. Thus, while  it  can  be  said  that  this  Court  has  recognised  some
exceptions to the rule  of  alternative  remedy  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 invoke the provisions which are  repealed,  or
when an order has been passed  in  total  violation  of  the  principles  of
natural justice, the  proposition  laid  down  in  Thansingh  Nathmal  case,
Titaghur Paper Mills case and other similar judgments that  the  High  Court
will not entertain a petition under Article 226 of the  Constitution  if  an
effective alternative remedy is available to the  aggrieved  person  or  the
statute under which the action complained of has been taken itself  contains
a mechanism for redressal of grievance still  holds  the  field.  Therefore,
when a statutory forum is created by law  for  redressal  of  grievances,  a
writ  petition  should   not   be   entertained   ignoring   the   statutory
dispensation."


33.   Statutory Remedy
In Union of India vs. Brigadier P.S. Gill, (2012)  4  SCC  463,  this  Court
while dealing with appeals under Section 30  of the  Armed  Forces  Tribunal
Act  following  the  procedure  prescribed  under   Section   31   and   its
maintainability, held as follows:

"8. Section 31 of the Act  extracted  above  specifically  provides  for  an
appeal to the Supreme Court but stipulates two distinct routes for  such  an
appeal. The first  route  to  this  Court  is  sanctioned  by  the  Tribunal
granting leave to file such an appeal. Section 31(1) in no  uncertain  terms
forbids grant  of  leave  to  appeal  to  this  Court  unless  the  Tribunal
certifies that a point of law of general public importance  is  involved  in
the decision. This implies  that  Section  31  does  not  create  a  vested,
indefeasible or absolute right of filing an appeal to this Court  against  a
final order or decision of the Tribunal to this Court. Such an  appeal  must
be preceded by the leave of the Tribunal and such  leave  must  in  turn  be
preceded by a certificate by the Tribunal that a point  of  law  of  general
public importance is involved in the appeal.

9. The second and the only other route to access this Court  is  also  found
in Section 31(1) itself. The expression "or it appears to the Supreme  Court
[pic]that the point is one which ought  to  be  considered  by  that  Court"
empowers this Court to permit the filing  of  an  appeal  against  any  such
final decision or order of the Tribunal.

10. A conjoint  reading  of  Sections  30  and  31  can  lead  to  only  one
conclusion viz. there is no vested right of appeal against a final order  or
decision of the Tribunal to  this  Court  other  than  those  falling  under
Section 30(2) of the Act. The only mode to  bring  up  the  matter  to  this
Court in appeal is either by way of certificate obtained from  the  Tribunal
that decided the matter or by obtaining leave of this  Court  under  Section
31 for filing an appeal depending upon  whether  this  Court  considers  the
point involved in the case to be one that ought to  be  considered  by  this
Court.

11. An incidental question  that  arises  is:  whether  an  application  for
permission to file an appeal under Section 31 can be moved  directly  before
the Supreme Court without first approaching the Tribunal for  a  certificate
in terms of the first part of Section 31(1) of the Act?

12. In the ordinary course the aggrieved party could perhaps  adopt  one  of
the two routes to bring up the matter  to  this  Court  but  that  does  not
appear to be the legislative intent evident from Section  31(2)  (supra).  A
careful reading of the section shows that it not only stipulates the  period
for making an application to the Tribunal for grant of leave  to  appeal  to
this Court but also stipulates the period for making an application to  this
Court for leave of this Court to file  an  appeal  against  the  said  order
which is sought to be challenged.

13. It is significant that the period stipulated for filing  an  application
to this Court starts running from the  date  beginning  from  the  date  the
application made to the Tribunal for grant of certificate is refused by  the
Tribunal. This implies that the aggrieved party cannot approach  this  Court
directly for grant of leave to file an appeal under Section 31(1) read  with
Section 31(2) of the Act.

14. The scheme of Section 31 being  that  an  application  for  grant  of  a
certificate must first be moved before the Tribunal,  before  the  aggrieved
party can approach this Court for the grant of leave to file an appeal.  The
purpose underlying the provision appears to be that if the  Tribunal  itself
grants  a  certificate  of  fitness  for  filing  an  appeal,  it  would  be
unnecessary for the aggrieved party to approach this Court for  a  leave  to
file such an appeal. An appeal by certificate would then be maintainable  as
a matter of right in view of  Section  30  which  uses  the  expression  "an
appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court". That appears to us to  be  the  true
legal position on a plain reading of the provisions of Sections 30 and 31."

      Thus, we find that though under Section 30 no person has  a  right  of
appeal against the final order or decision of the  Tribunal  to  this  Court
other than those  falling  under  Section  30(2)  of  the  Act,  but  it  is
statutory appeal which lies to this Court.
34.   The aforesaid decisions rendered by this Court can  be  summarised  as
follows:
The power of judicial review vested in the High Court under Article  226  is
one of the basic essential features of the Constitution and any  legislation
including Armed Forces Act, 2007 cannot override or curtail jurisdiction  of
the High Court under Article 226 of the  Constitution  of  India.(Refer:  L.
Chandra and S.N. Mukherjee).
(ii)The jurisdiction of the High Court under  Article  226  and  this  Court
under Article 32 though cannot be circumscribed by  the  provisions  of  any
enactment, they will certainly have due regard  to  the  legislative  intent
evidenced  by  the  provisions  of  the  Acts  and  would   exercise   their
jurisdiction consistent with the  provisions  of  the  Act.(Refer:  Mafatlal
Industries Ltd.).
(iii)When a statutory forum is created by law for redressal  of  grievances,
a  writ  petition  should  not  be  entertained   ignoring   the   statutory
dispensation. (Refer: Nivedita Sharma).
(iv)The High Court will not entertain a petition under Article  226  of  the
Constitution  if  an  effective  alternative  remedy  is  available  to  the
aggrieved person or the statute under which the  action  complained  of  has
been taken itself contains a mechanism for redressal of  grievance.  (Refer:
Nivedita Sharma).

Article 141 of the Constitution of India reads as follows:
 "Article 141.Law declared by Supreme Court to be binding  on  all  courts.-
The law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts  within
the territory of India."

36.   In Executive Engineer, Southern Electricity Supply Company  of  Orissa
Limited(SOUTHCO) this  Court  observed  that  it  should  only  be  for  the
specialised tribunal or the appellate authorities to examine the  merits  of
assessment or even the factual matrix of the case.
      In Chhabil Dass Agrawal this Court held that when  a  statutory  forum
is created by law for redressal of grievances, a writ  petition  should  not
be entertained ignoring the statutory dispensation.
      In Cicily Kallarackal this Court issued a direction  of  caution  that
it will not be a proper exercise of the jurisdiction by the  High  Court  to
entertain a writ  petition  against  such  orders  against  which  statutory
appeal lies before this Court.
In view of Article 141(1) the law as laid down by this  Court,  as  referred
above, is binding on all courts of India including the High Courts.
37.   Likelihood of anomalous situation
If  the  High  Court  entertains  a  petition  under  Article  226  of   the
Constitution of India against order passed by Armed  Forces  Tribunal  under
Section 14 or Section 15 of the Act bypassing the machinery of statute  i.e.
Sections 30 and 31 of the Act, there is likelihood  of  anomalous  situation
for the aggrieved person in praying for relief from this Court.
      Section 30 provides for an appeal  to  this  Court  subject  to  leave
granted under Section 31 of the Act. By clause (2) of  Article  136  of  the
Constitution of India,  the  appellate  jurisdiction  of  this  Court  under
Article 136 has been excluded in relation to  any  judgment,  determination,
sentence or order passed or made by  any court or  Tribunal  constituted  by
or under any law relating to the Armed Forces. If any  person  aggrieved  by
the order of the Tribunal, moves before the High  Court  under  Article  226
and the High Court entertains the petition and passes a judgment  or  order,
the person who may be aggrieved against both the orders passed by the  Armed
Forces Tribunal and the High Court, cannot challenge both the orders in  one
joint appeal. The aggrieved person may file leave to  appeal  under  Article
136 of the Constitution against the judgment passed by the  High  Court  but
in view of the bar of jurisdiction by clause (2) of Article 136, this  Court
cannot entertain appeal against the order  of  the  Armed  Forces  Tribunal.
Once, the High  Court  entertains  a  petition  under  Article  226  of  the
Constitution against the order of Armed  Forces  Tribunal  and  decides  the
matter, the person who  thus  approached  the   High  Court,  will  also  be
precluded from filing an appeal under Section 30 with leave to appeal  under
Section 31 of the Act against the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal  as  he
cannot challenge the order passed by the High Court  under  Article  226  of
the Constitution under Section 30 read with Section 31 of the Act.  Thereby,
there is a chance of anomalous situation. Therefore, it is always  desirable
for the High Court to act in terms of the law laid down  by  this  Court  as
referred to above, which is binding on the High Court under Article  141  of
the Constitution of India,  allowing  the  aggrieved  person  to  avail  the
remedy under Section 30 read with Section 31 Armed Forces Act.
38.   The  High  Court  (Delhi  High  Court)  while  entertaining  the  writ
petition under Article  226  of  the  Constitution  bypassed  the  machinery
created under Sections 30 and 31  of  Act.  However,  we  find  that  Andhra
Pradesh High Court and the Allahabad High  Court  had  not  entertained  the
petitions under Article 226  and  directed  the  writ  petitioners  to  seek
resort under Sections 30 and 31 of the Act. Further, the law  laid  down  by
this Court, as referred to above, being binding on the High  Court,  we  are
of the view that Delhi High Court was  not  justified  in  entertaining  the
petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
39.   For the reasons aforesaid, we set aside the impugned judgments  passed
by the Delhi High Court and upheld the judgments and orders  passed  by  the
Andhra Pradesh High Court and Allahabad High Court.  Aggrieved  persons  are
given liberty to avail the remedy under Section  30  with  leave  to  appeal
under Section 31 of the Act, and if  so  necessary  may  file  petition  for
condonation of delay to avail remedy before this Court.






 40.  The Civil Appeal Nos.7400, 7375-7376, 7399, 9388,  9389  of  2013  are
allowed and  the  Civil  Appeal  Nos.7338  of  2013  and  96   of  2014  are
dismissed.
..............................................................................
                                                                    ......J.
                                               (SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA)



..............................................................................
                                                                       ...J.
                                (N.V. RAMANA)

NEW DELHI,
MARCH 11, 2015.

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