In a recent landmark judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in M/S Universal Sompo General Insurance Co. Ltd. V. Suresh Chand Jain, Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 5263 Of 2023, it was held by the Apex court that a party aggrieved by a decision of lower courts or tribunals can approach the Hon’ble Supreme Court under a Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution of India (“Constitution”), for appeal against an order of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) only if the order has been passed by the Commission in its original jurisdiction.
Justice J B Pardiwala along with Justice Manoj Mishra examined the scope of Article 136 of the Constitution and noted that the provision must be exercised in order to consider a question of law which involves public importance or any particular decision of the courts which shocks the conscience of the court in general.
The question of whether a Special Leave Petition can be entertained directly against an order passed by the Commission while exercising its appellate jurisdiction in a case where the party aggrieved has an existing remedy to approach the Hon’ble High Courts in exercise of its powers under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution.
As per the facts of the case, the aggrieved party had taken an insurance cover of Rs. 50 Lakh for the risk of fire and burglary and claimed Rs. 49 lakhs for the loss suffered. The insurance company repudiated the claim due to which the aggrieved party approached the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) and NCDRC, and then finally the Apex court.
The Apex court, before allowing the appeal and hearing its merits, considered various precedents and held that remedy available to the aggrieved party against an order passed by the NCDRC is available under Article 277 and lies with the High Court. The court also granted liberty to the petitioner to challenge the order of NCDRC in the High Court having competent jurisdiction.
The present judgment has rightly clarified the provisions of law pertaining to a Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution and stated the situations when an appeal can lie to the Apex Court and the High Court. Moreover, through this judgment, the lacuna existing in the minds of litigants and advocates pertaining to scope of appeals to the Hon’ble Supreme Court from National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has also been filled.
The precedent of not allowing direct appeals to the Apex Court from the NCDRC would also help in reducing the pendency of cases in the Supreme Court along with ensuring that a proper hierarchy of the courts is followed in the Indian Legal System.