Gauhati High Court explains scope of second appeal

The Gauhati High Court recently ruled that a second appeal would take place in cases involving a substantial question of law and explained that the word “substantial” preceded by “question of law” does not refer to the issues involved in the case. , nor is intended to refer only to questions of law of general importance, but refers to the impact or effect of the question of law on the decision in the dispute between the parties.

Judge Devashish Baruah noted that,

“Substantive question of law” means not only a ‘substantial question of law’ of general importance, but also a substantial question of law arising in a matter between the parties. In the context of Article 100 CCP, any question of law which affects the final decision in a case is a “substantial question of law” between the parties. A question of law which arises incidentally or indirectly, having no bearing on the final result, will not be a substantive question of law.”

An appeal was filed under Section 100 of the Code of Civil Procedure of 1908 challenging the judgment given by the Additional District Judge, dismissing the appellants’ suit.

It has been held that where there is a clear and definitive statement on a “question of law” by the Supreme Court or even by this Court, the case cannot be said to involve a “substantial question of law”. A substantive question of law is said to arise when a question of law, which is not finally settled, arises for consideration in the case. Yet this statement must be understood in the correct perspective, which means that where there is a clear statement of the law and the lower court followed or rigidly applied that clear statement of the law; obviously, the case will not be considered to give rise to a substantive question of law, even though the question of law may be of general importance.

On the other hand, if there is a clear statement of the law by the Supreme Court or by this Court, but the lower courts have ignored or misinterpreted or misapplied the same and correct application of the law as declared or stated by the Supreme Court or by this Court would have led to a different decision, the appeal would involve a “substantial question of law” between the parties. It has been observed,

“Even where there is a statement of law by the Supreme Court or by this Court and the same has been followed by the lower Court, if the appellant is able to persuade this Court that the legal position stated must be reconsidered, amended, modified or clarified or it is necessary to resolve an apparent conflict between two different points of view, a substantive question of law may be said to arise under consideration.”

In other words, there can therefore be no strict definition of when a substantive question of law arises in a case; it will depend on the facts of each case as well as the decision of the lower courts.

The Court referred to State Bank of India & Ors v. SN Goyal, in which it was held that competing findings of fact generally bind the Court on hearing a second appeal under Article 100 of the CPC.

However, it has been found that this rule of law is subject to certain well-known exceptions. It is a well-established law to record any findings of fact; the Court of First Instance is required to assess all of the evidence (oral and documentary) in the light of the parties’ submissions. Similarly, it is also well established in law that the Court of Appeal also has jurisdiction to assess the evidence de novo at the hearing of the first appeal and either uphold the finding of the trial court or reverse it. It has been observed,

“If the Court of Appeal confirms the finding, it is called a “finding of facts”, while if the finding is reversed, it is called a “reversed finding”. These expressions are well known in legal parlance. »

However, when a concurrent finding of fact is challenged in the second appeal, the Appellant is entitled to point out that it is bad in law because it was recorded outside the pleadings, or that it is not was based on any evidence, or was based on a misreading of material documentary evidence, or was recorded in violation of the provisions of law. Finally, it is a decision that no judge acting judicially could reasonably have made.

If one or more grounds mentioned above are established in an appropriate case on the basis of the pleadings and the evidence, this or these grounds will constitute a material question of law within the meaning of Article 100 of the Code.

Case Title: Banwarilal Sharma v. Kamala Devi Ajitsaria & Ors

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