The Supreme Court of India has been granted the extraordinary power to hear an appeal against any order, judgment, sentence etc. passed by any subordinate court in the country under Article 136 of the Constitution. All such cases are called Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) as they ask the Supreme Court for permission to appear before the Court and argue their case. As of 2011, about 86% of cases before the Supreme Court were Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) under Article 136 of the Constitution.
A person who is aggrieved by an order of a court (a petitioner) files a petition before the Supreme Court stating their grounds for overturning the order. The petition is examined by the registry of the court for defects (such as missing documents). Once such defects are cleared, the Petition is assigned a number. If the case is a civil one, the number will be Special Leave Petition (C) No. ___________ of _______ (year). If the case is criminal, the number will be Special Leave Petition (Crl) No. ___________ of _______ (year).
Sometimes a petitioner needs additional permissions to file a case. This usually occurs when the petition is filed late (after 60 days of the order of the lower court). In such cases, the petition cannot be assigned a number. In criminal cases, this case is referred to by another petition (called a miscellaneous petition or M.P. for short) which seeks the additional permission necessary for the case to be heard (condonation of delay for example). The case is therefore referred to as Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No. [Blank] of _______ (year) with M.P. No. _____________ of ______ (year). Until the court grants the additional permission, the case is only referred to by the M.P. number. When the permission is granted, the case is assigned an SLP number.
In civil cases, the SLP is referred to as Special Leave Petition (C) (CC No.) _____________ of _______ (year). Here the CC stands for Computer Code. As with criminal cases, the petition is assigned an SLP number when the court grants the additional permissions necessary.
After receiving a number, the SLPs filed are assigned to the various benches of the Supreme Court by the Registry and listed on a Miscellaneous day when all fresh cases are heard. Currently, every Monday and Friday are Miscellaneous days in the Supreme Court. If the bench is convinced that petition has merit, the Court will ‘issue notice’ to the other parties to the case. This is to invite the other parties to file a response to the Petition (known as a Counter-affidavit or simply a Counter). Such parties are referred to as Respondents. When the Court receives replies from the Respondents, the Petitioner is given time to file a response to the Counter (known as a Rejoinder).
On the basis of the Petition, Counter and Rejoinder, the Court considers the merits of the case. The court may, at its discretion, call for arguments on the issues involved. At this stage, the Court will grant leave to appeal in the case. The case is renumbered to either Civil Appeal No. _______________ of _____ (year) or Criminal Appeal No. ______________ of _______ (year) as appropriate.
The case enters its final stage where arguments from both sides are heard and a judgment is finally delivered.
Note: It is not unusual for leave to be granted in the judgment itself. In fact, in the Arunachal Pradesh case, leave was granted in the judgment after the case had been referred to a five judge bench and the Court had acknowledged that the case involved a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the constitution.
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