What is Special leave petition?

Special leave petition is a power of Supreme Court of India granted by Constitution Article 136. This article says that Supreme Court may, in its discretion, grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India.

Special Leave Petition has been used frequently to obviate the bar put by article 262 on SC for hearing the matters related to inter-state riparian disputes.

Article 262 says this:

  1. (1) Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.

(2) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as is referred to in clause (1).

Article 136 answers the question on how could the parties go to the Supreme Court when there is a clear and explicit bar on the jurisdiction of the courts in the case of a river-water dispute?

By using the powers of Article 262, Parliament enacted the ISWD Act. Now, the riparian issues are sent to a Tribunal under the ISWD Act. The bar provided for in Article 262 is overcome by the Special Leave Petition or SLP that has been empowered to Supreme Court via Article 136 (whether relating to river-water or any other dispute). The Supreme Court has first to decide in its discretion whether it should grant or deny the requested Special Leave.

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