Scope of Article 226 of Constitution of India

Such writs as are referred to in Article 226 of Constitution are obviously intended to enable the High Court to issue them in grave cases where the subordinate tribunals or bodies or officers act wholly without jurisdiction, or in excess of it, or in violation of the principles of natural justice, or refuse to exercise a jurisdiction vested in them, or there is an error apparent on the face of the record, and such act, omission, error, or excess has resulted in manifest injustice. However extensive the jurisdiction may be, it seems that it is not so wide or large as to enable the High Court to convert it into a Court of Appeal and examine for itself the correctness of the decisions impugned and decide what is proper view to be taken or the order to be made.[1]

In Chandigarh Administration v. Manpreet Singh[2], it was laid down:

“while acting under Article 226, High Court doesn’t not sit and/or act as an appellate authority over the orders/actions of the subordinate authorities. Its jurisdiction is supervisory in nature. One of the main objectives of this jurisdiction is to keep the Government and several other authorities and tribunals within bounds of their respective jurisdiction. The High Court must ensure that while performing this function it doesn’t not overstep the well-recognised bounds of its own jurisdiction”

The High Court normally doesn’t entertain petition under Article 226 of the Constitution to enforce a civil liability arising out of a breach of contract or tort to pay an amount of money due to the claimant and leaves it to the aggrieved party to agitate the question in a civil suit filed for that purpose. But an order for payment of money may sometimes be made in a petition under Article 226 against the state or against an officer of the State to enforce a statutory obligation.[3]

There is nothing in Article 226 of the Constitution to preclude a High Court from exercising the power of review which inheres in every Court of plenary jurisdiction to prevent miscarriage of justice or to correct grave and palpable errors committed by it.[4]

If disputed questions of fact which arise in a writ petition, and the High Court is of the view that those may not appropriately be tried in a petition for a high prerogative writ, the High Court has jurisdiction to refuse to try those questions and to relegate the party applying to his normal remedy to obtain redress in a suit. The order of the High Court rejecting the petition on the ground that disputed questions of fact fell to be determined is plainly illegal.[5]

It is submitted that if a petition under Article 226 should involve investigation such complicated questions of facts as to require a regular and full trial, it is but prudent that the court should refrain itself from entertaining the petition but to relegate the party to obtain redress in a suit.

It is well-settled now that a High Court, in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution cannot sit in appeal over the findings of fact recorded by a competent Tribunal in a properly conducted departmental enquiry, when it be shown that the impugned findings were not supported by any evidence. Adequacy of that evidence to sustain the charge is not a question before the High Court when exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.[6]

The High Court may interfere where the statutory authority has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or, where it has committed an error of law apparent on the face of record.

Under Article 226 of the Constitution, the jurisdiction of High Court is undoubtedly very wide. Appropriate writs can be issued by the High Court under the said Article even for purposes other than the enforcement of the fundamental rights and in that sense, a party who invokes the special jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 is not confined to cases of illegal invasions of his fundamental rights alone. But though the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 is wide in that sense, the concluding words of the Article clearly indicate that before a writ or an appropriate order can be issued in favour of a party, it must be established that the party has a right and the said right is illegally invaded or threatened.[7]

 

[1] Veerappa Pillai v. Raman and Raman Limited, AIR 1952 SC 192

[2] AIR 1992 SC 435

[3] Burma Construction Co. v. State of Orissa, AIR 1962 SC 1320

[4] Shiv Das Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1963 SC 1909

[5] Jagdish Prasad Shastri v. State of Uttar Pradesh (1970) 2 SCWR 723; DLF Housing v. Delhi Municipal Corporation, AIR 1976 SC 386

[6] State of Madras v. Sundaram, AIR 1965 SC 1103

[7] State of Orissa v. Ram Chandra Deo, AIR 1964 SC 685

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