SC: Finding of fact if not supported by evidence constitutes an error of law

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 12th September 2019, in the matter of General Manager, Electrical Rengali Hydro Electric Project, Orissa And Others v. Sri Giridhari Sahu And Others pronounced that however, a finding of fact which is one within the jurisdiction of the court is ordinarily a matter ‘off bounds’ for the writ court but if a finding of fact is not supported by any evidence then it would constitute an error of law enabling the writ court to interfere.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

An erroneous decision in respect of a matter which falls within the authority of the Tribunal would not entitle a writ applicant for a writ of certiorari. However, if the decision relates to anything collateral to the merit, an erroneous decision upon which, would affect its jurisdiction, a writ of certiorari would lie. (Para 21)

The jurisdiction to issue writ of certiorari is supervisory and not appellate. The Court considering a writ application of Certiorari will not don the cap of an Appellate Court. It will not reappreciate evidence. (Para 29)

The Writ of Certiorari is intended to correct jurisdictional excesses. A writ of prohibition would issue when a Tribunal or authority has not yet concluded its proceedings. Once a decision is rendered by a body amenable to Certiorari jurisdiction, certiorari could be issued when a jurisdictional error is clearly established. The jurisdictional error may be from failure to observe the limits of its jurisdiction. It may arise from the procedure adopted by the body after validly assuming jurisdiction. It may act in violation of principles of natural justice. The body whose decision which comes under attack may decide a collateral fact which is also a jurisdictional fact and assume jurisdiction. Such a finding of fact is not immune from being interfered with by a Writ of Certiorari. (Para 29)

As far as the finding of fact which is one within the jurisdiction of the court, it is ordinarily a matter ‘off bounds’ for the writ court. This is for the reason that a body which has jurisdiction to decide the matter has the jurisdiction to decide it correctly or wrongly. It would become a mere error and that too an error of fact. However ,gross it may amount to, it does not amount to an error of law. (Para 29)

An error of law which becomes vulnerable to judicial scrutiny by way of Certiorari must also one which is apparent on the face of the record. (Para 29) 

A finding of fact which is not supported by any evidence would be perverse and in fact would constitute an error of law enabling the writ court to interfere. It is also to be noticed that if the overwhelming weight of the evidence does not support the finding, it would render the decision amendable to certiorari jurisdiction. (Para 29)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_12th-Sep-2019

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *