SC:O.XLI R.31 CPC to be complied with even while affirming judgement

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 12th February 2020, in the matter of Malluru Mallappa(D) Thr. Lrs. v. Kuruvathappa & Ors. observed that even when the first appellate court affirms the judgment of the trial court, it is required to comply with the requirement of Order XLI Rule 31 of CPC. The judgment of the first appellate court has to set out points for determination, record the decision thereon and give its own reasons.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

The expression ‘appeal’ has not been defined in the CPC. Black’s Law Dictionary (7th Edn.) defines an appeal as “a proceeding undertaken to have a decision reconsidered by bringing it to a higher authority.” It is a judicial examination of the decision by a higher court of the decision of a subordinate court to rectify any possible error in the order under appeal. The law provides the remedy of an appeal because of the recognition that those manning the judicial tiers too commit errors. (Para 11)

An appeal is a continuation of the proceedings of the original court. Ordinarily, the appellate jurisdiction involves a re-hearing on law as well as on fact and is invoked by an aggrieved person. The first appeal is a valuable right of the appellant and therein all questions of fact and law decided by the trial court are open for re-consideration. Therefore, the first appellate court is required to address itself to all the issues and decide the case by giving reasons. The court of first appeal must record its findings only after dealing with all issues of law as well as fact and with the evidence, oral as well as documentary, led by the parties. The judgment of the first appellate court must display conscious application of mind and record findings supported by reasons on all issues and contentions. (Para 14)

A first appeal under Section 96 of the CPC is entirely different from a second appeal under Section 100. Section 100 expressly bars second appeal unless a question of law is involved in a case and the question of law so involved is substantial in nature. (Para 14)

The judgment of the first appellate court has to set out points for determination, record the decision thereon and give its own reasons. Even when the first appellate court affirms the judgment of the trial court, it is required to comply with the requirement of Order XLI Rule 31 and non-observance of this requirement leads to infirmity in the judgment of the first appellate court. No doubt, when the appellate court agrees with the views of the trial court on evidence, it need not restate effect of evidence or reiterate reasons given by trial court. Expression of a general agreement with the reasons given by the trial court would ordinarily suffice. (Para 19)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_12-Feb-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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