Question: Is it possible for a high court to review its order passed in a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution?
Answer: There is a judgement of a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in the case of Shivdeo Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1963 SC 1909, which directly covers this issue and holds that a high court has the power to review its order passed in a writ petition under Article 26 of the Constitution. In this case, the Supreme Court held as under:
“It is sufficient to say that 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.”
In this case before the Supreme Court, the appellant had preferred a writ petition before the High Court of Punjab for quashing a particular order. The Director of Rehabilitation alone was made a party thereto. The petition was allowed by a Single Judge of the High Court. Eventually, Respondents 3 to 14, who were affected parties, preferred a petition before the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution for impleading them as parties in the appellants’ petition and re-hearing the whole matter. This petition was entertained by the High Court and it allowed it. In these circumstances, the Supreme Court held that the previous order of the Single Judge of the high court affected the interests of persons who were not made parties to the proceeding before him. It was at their instance and for giving them a hearing that the Single Judge entertained the second petition. In doing so, he merely did what the principles of natural justice required him to do. It was contended that the respondents had no right to apply for review of the High Court order because they were not parties to the previous proceedings. However, the Supreme Court pointed out that it was precisely because they were not made parties to the previous proceedings, though their interests were sought to be affected by the decision of the High Court, that the second application was entertained by the Single Judge of the High Court.
From the above judgement of the Supreme Court, which is a judgement of five judges of the court, it should be clear that in appropriate cases the High Court has the power to review its earlier order passed under Article 226 of the Constitution.