Reference, Review, and Revision under the Code of Civil Procedure,1908.

Reference, Review, and Revision under the Code of Civil Procedure,1908.

Author: Sudhanshu Sachan, Central University of South Bihar.


Meaning of reference-“REFERENCE” is given under Section 113 of the Code of Civil Procedure,1908 and Order 46 of the Code of Civil Procedure,1908 tells about the procedure of sending reference, its essentials, and other conditions. When the courts subordinate to the High Court has a ‘reasonable doubt’ on a question of law it can refer it to the High Courts for their opinion. This is known as a reference.

The doubts can be of two types-

  1. The doubt is related to some act, law or ordinance on which there is no clear stand of the Supreme Court or the High Court. In such instances, it is obligatory for the lower courts to seek the opinion of the High Court.

The reference becomes obligatory if these conditions are fulfilled-

  • It is necessary to dispose of the case.
  • The subordinate court making the reference thinks that the act, ordinance or regulation is unconstitutional.
  • There is no clear stand of the Supreme Court or the High Court on such act, ordinance or regulation.
  • The doubt can be related to any other question that has arisen in the course of the case. Here, it is optional for the lower courts to seek the opinion of the High Courts.  

Its objective- The main objective of this was to prevent the passing of any wrong decree or judgment. REFERENCE can be used only in non-appealable cases. Also, it prevents a miscarriage of justice. The High Court can clear the doubts so that the same questions don’t arise again by any other lower courts.

 Who can send reference- It can be sent by the lower court to the High Court in two ways-

  • An application by any of the parties for moving the reference
  • By suo moto the lower court can send the reference to the High Court.

Work of the District Court- The District Court can do two things-

  • It can put a stay on the case.
  • It can pass a contingent order i.e. the order will be subject to the opinion of the High Court.

Work of the High Court- Where a case has been referred to the High Court under the High Court can do two things:

  • may return the case for amendment or
  • may alter, cancel or set aside any decree or order which the Court making the reference has passed

Review –

Meaning of review- It has been given under Section 114 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Under Order 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 it lays down some conditions necessary for review. The review simply means to re-consider. Review of a decision is to be made to the same court by the same judge which passed the decree or made the order. There is only one review for one case.

It’s objective- Every human being commits a mistake. Judges are also human beings and they also at times pass the wrong decree or pronounce wrong judgments. Many times it happens that due to lack of evidence, such rulings are given. To prevent such miscarriage of justice review was introduced.

When can one go for review-

According to Section 114 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, any party to a suit, who considers himself aggrieved

  • by a decree or appealable order of a court-but no appeal is preferred for it. Also in the case of Ram Baksh v. Rajeshwari Kunwar, AIR 1948 AII 213 it was held that even if is an appeal is dismissed on any grounds, the option for review is always there.
  •  by a non-appealable decree or order of the Court, or by a reference on a decree from a Court of Small Causes may apply for a review of the judgment. As the application is made to the same court, it may reconsider and make suitable orders thereof.

Conditions for review-

  • On the discovery of new and important matter or evidence
  • On account of some mistake or error apparent on the face of the record
  • For any other sufficient reason,

 S. Nagraj & Ors. V. State of Karnataka & Anr., 1993 Supp (4) SCC 595,the Apex Court held that “The expression, `for any other sufficient reason’ in the clause has been given an expanded meaning and a decree or order passed under misapprehension of true state of circumstances has been held to be sufficient ground to exercise the power.”

 When can an application for review get rejected-

The application can get rejected when the court does not find any sufficient ground to entertain the review.

When can an application for review be granted-

Where the Court thinks that the application for review should be granted, it shall grant the same.

But there are some conditions-

  • An application about the reviewing of the decree should be given to the other party.
  • The party asking for review must have a solid proof about the new evidence. There was no chance of getting that evidence at the time when the case was decided.

The Limitation Period for Review

Under Article 124 of the of The Limitation Act, 1963 the limitation period is 30 days for courts other than the Supreme Court from the date of decree or order.


Meaning of revision- Revision is mentioned under Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Revision in simple words means to re-visit or re-examine something carefully. The High Court can re-examine any order of the court subordinate to it but there are certain conditions to it.

Conditions for revision-

  • The decree or order given by the lower court should be non-appealable.
  • The case must be decided.

The lower court

  • has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or
  • has failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested, or
  • has acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with some material irregularity,

If the above conditions are fulfilled then the High Court may call for the records from the lower court and act accordingly. If there is any other remedy left to the aggrieved party, then the court may not exercise its Revisional Jurisdiction.

This Revisional Jurisdiction of the High Court is discretionary in nature. Even after the fulfillment of the above conditions, it is not obligatory for the High Court to go for revision. The High Court does not examine the merits or facts of the case. It just examines the scope and impact of the judgment. If it thinks that the judgement has some serious irregularities and it will lead to a miscarriage of justice, then only it goes for revision. After allowing revision, if the High Court finds that there is a mistake of fact then it can check for it.

An amendment was done in 1999 in Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

  1. “Provided that the High Court shall not, under this section, vary or reverse any order made, or any order deciding an issue, in the course of a suit or other proceeding, except where the order, if it had been made in favor of the party applying for revision, would have finally disposed of the suit or other proceedings”.

This amendment meant that the High Court cannot change any order or Decree of the lower court except that one which when changed will be in favour of the party which has applied for revision.

  • “A revision shall not operate as a stay of suit or another proceeding before the Court except where such suit or other proceeding is stayed by the High Court.

Limitation Period for Revision-

According to Article 131 of the Limitation Act, 1963 for a revision of the decree or order, the limitation period is 90 days. The revision application should be made to the High Court within the limitation period.

All these can be used only once for a case.

Difference between Reference, Review, and Revision

  Reference Review Revision
                  1. Section 113 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Section 114 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
      2. It is referred to as the High Court by the Lower court for guidance on a question of law. It is to be done by the same court where review has been asked. It is the Revisional Jurisdiction of the High Court to look over the work of the lower courts.
      3. The lower courts through suo moto or through a complaint by any of the parties can send it to the High Courts. It has to be done by the parties only. It can be done by the aggrieved party by filing a revision in the High Courts.