Once a discretionary jurisdiction is exercised refusing to entertain a writ petition on the ground of availability of an efficacious alternative remedy, the intra-court writ appellate jurisdiction would loath interfere with it under the Letters Patent, since that would amount to substituting the discretion exercised by the learned single Judge on disclosed reasons, by yet another set of reasoning which may lead to exercise of discretion in a different manner
|Case name:||Major Pankaj Raj v. Union of India|
|Case number/Citation:||WRIT APPEAL Nos.456 AND 457 OF 2018|
|Court:||Supreme Court of India, Civil Original Jurisdiction|
|Bench:||THE HON’BLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE SRI THOTTATHIL B.RADHAKRISHNAN THE HON’BLE SRI JUSTICE S.V. BHATT|
|Decided on:||December 31st, 2018|
|Relevant Act/Sections:||Section 3, 4 of Competition Act|
- BRIEF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
- The appellants moved the second respondent-Competition Commission of India, alleging that the third respondent has contravened Sections 3 and 4 of the Competition Act, 2002, hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’. The Commission issued its opinion that there exists no prima facie case and closed the matter. That decision of the Commission was impugned in the writ petitions before the learned single Judge.
- Noticing the rival contentions on different aspects of the matter, the learned single Judge held that the decision impugned in the writ petitions is one that could be challenged invoking the remedy available by way of Appeal under the Act and such appellate remedy available before the Appellate Tribunal under the Act is an efficacious alternative remedy. It was accordingly held that in view of such alternative remedy being available, the writ petitions are liable to the rejected.
- These Writ Appeals are against the common order in two writ petitions, namely, W.P.Nos.42223 of 2017 and 43744 of 2017.
- ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT:
- Whether despite the availability of statutory remedies, should the writ petition be sustained?
- RATIO OF THE COURT:
- The learned counsel for appellant submitted that despite availability of the alternative remedy by way of a statutory appeal, writ jurisdiction ought to have been exercised having regard to the violation of the principles of natural justice and because, according to the appellants, the decision of the Commission is rendered in gross violation of principles of fairness and fair play and that such decision directly affects the fundamental rights of the appellants.
- The learned Senior Counsel appearing for the third respondent and the learned counsel for the second respondent reiterated the submissions made by them before the learned single Judge on the availability of alternative remedy by way of statutory appeal and referred to the Judgments of the Supreme Court in Titaghur Paper Mills Company Limited vs. State of Orissa1, as well as the Judgments referred to by the learned single Judge in the impugned order. The scope and the extent of appellate power of the Competition Appellate Tribunal in terms of Chapter 8-A of the Act were also dilated upon having particular regard to the Judgments of the apex Court in Competition Commission of India vs. Steel Authority of India Limited and the High Court of Delhi in Google Inc., vs. Competition Commission of India.
- Stressing upon the alternative appellate remedies, the court held that there was no plea in relation to that issue, which went to the root of the matter in such a way that it destroyed the foundation of the decision making power. Similarly, the plea that the applicant for intervention had a deep and persuasive influence on the proceedings of the Commission is also a matter, that may be available to be raised before the Appellate Tribunal, because the power of the Appellate Tribunal, to the extent orders are made appealable to the Tribunal, are comprehensive enough to consider all questions raised in relation to the sustainability of any such appealable orders.
- The court further held that the single judge had given the impugned decision in his discretionary jurisdiction. Once a discretionary jurisdiction is exercised refusing to entertain a writ petition on the ground of availability of an efficacious alternative remedy, the intra-court writ appellate jurisdiction would loath interfere with it under the Letters Patent, since that would amount to substituting the discretion exercised by the learned single Judge on disclosed reasons, by yet another set of reasoning which may lead to exercise of discretion in a different manner. This would lead to institutional inconsistency in writ jurisdiction.
- This court held that the discretionary reasons given by the single judge were satisfactory and therefore the writ petition did not have any merit.
- DECISION HELD BY COURT: