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Reference-Review-Revision – Code of Civil Procedure

Code of Civil Procedure

Reference, Review, Revision – Code of Civil Procedure

According to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, when a party is aggrieved by the decree passed by the court, he can approach the superior court by way of appeal, against the decree passed by the trial court. Generally, under appeal, the whole dispute is re-heard by the appellate court. But in cases where there are technical/procedurals errors, the aggrieved party need not take the pain of approaching the higher court for going through the hassle of contesting another suit which is in the form of appeal. For the same purpose, the Code of Civil procedure has introduced the concepts called Reference, Review and Revision under Sections 113, 114 & 115 respectively. An application for Reference, Review and Revision can be filed in the concerned courts as provided by the Code and the proceedings under these applications do not deal with merits (facts or evidence) of the case. They are solely based on technical grounds.


Reference is dealt under Section 113 of the Code. It mentions that a subordinate court can refer a doubt to the High court where the former thinks that there should not be misinterpretation with regard to any law. This is called a reference. No party to the suit has the right to apply for reference. It is only the subordinate court which has the power of reference suo-moto (on its own motion) when there is doubt regarding the validity of any legal provision. For matters other than the validity of legal provisions, the court is not bound to refer to the High court. So, when the court feels that it needs clarification regarding any matter which is pending, it can seek an opinion from the High court to avoid the commission of errors while rendering a judgement. If there is reasonable doubt regarding the question of law, subordinate courts can exercise the right of reference under the following situations when:

  • A question as to the validity of any act, rule, regulation, ordinance, etc., arises in the court where the suit is being entertained
  • The court is of the opinion that such act or any other provision of law is invalid (“ultra vires” means “beyond the powers”) or inoperative
  • Such question on the provision of law is never before made invalid either by the High court or Supreme court
  • It is pertinent for determining the validity of such provision of law for disposal of the suit

Order 46 of the Code lays down the conditions which should be satisfied by the subordinate court in order to make a reference to the High court. They are:

  • The suit or appeal must be pending wherein no further appeal lies from decree or order of such suit or appeal respectively
  • The question of law must arise during the course of proceedings, i.e., the pendency of the suit
  • The court must be entertaining the suit from which such doubt regarding the question of law has arisen

where such reference has been made to the High court, the subordinate court may pass a decree, taking into consideration, the opinion of the High court.


A review is mentioned under Section 114 of the Code. An aggrieved party can file an application for review in the same court where the decree has been passed. This provision enables the court to review its own judgement in case of any error or mistake made with regard to the decision rendered, to rectify the same. While Section 114 is a substantive right, the procedure for the same has been provided for under Order 47 of the Code. The application for Review can be filed under the circumstances where:

  • a decree or order is appealable as provided by the law, but no such appeal has been preferred
  • there is no provision for appeal from certain decree or order
  • a decision is passed by the court of Small Causes

The grounds for filing review application are:

  • discovery of new facts when there is no knowledge about the same or could not produce the same due to negligence, prior to the time when the decree was passed
  • the error apparent on the face of the record which means errors which do not give rise to re-arguments of the whole case and those which are not related to erroneous decisions
  • any other sufficient grounds as provided by the Code, wherein the misconception of the court can be considered as sufficient ground

The application for review shall be filed within 30 days from the date of order/decree. The order or decree passed after such review shall be final and in force. The review petition is discretionary of a court, meaning, it can either choose to entertain or reject the application.

As a matter of fact, the Supreme court can also review its own decisions under Article 137 of the Constitution of India. As per Supreme Court Rules, 1966, the review petition should be filed within thirty days from the date of judgment.


The High court has the power to call for a re-examination of any case which has been decided by the subordinate court without appropriate jurisdiction. This power of the High court is called Revisional Jurisdiction of only High court which is mentioned under Section 115 of the Code. The revisional jurisdiction is not a substantive right but is merely a privilege given to the applicant. An application for revision can be made by the parties to the suit under the following circumstances where the subordinate court has:

  • not exercised jurisdiction as conferred by law (wrongful assumption of the court regarding the jurisdiction)
  • failed to exercise jurisdiction that is vested in it (non-exercise of jurisdiction by the court)
  • illegally exercised its jurisdiction (irregular exercise of jurisdiction by the court)

The High court cannot reverse a judgement where:

  • the whole suit has been disposed of by the parties
  • the reversal of such judgement shall cause irreparable injury/loss against whom it was made

Since the High court only possess the Revisional jurisdiction, the order made from the exercise of such power is not appealable.


  • Reference is made by a subordinate court to the High court where there is a doubt regarding the question of law.
  • The review is made by the same court which has passed the decree to rectify the mistake or error on the record.
  • Revision application is made to only High court when the decree passed by subordinate court is not in accordance with appropriate jurisdictions.

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