Curative Petition: Meaning and Recent Uses
The Supreme Court of India has rejected the pleas of the curative petition filed by two of the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case.
What is a curative petition?
A curative petition is the last judicial resort available for the redressal of grievances in front of a court. The objective here is to avoid any miscarriage of justice and to prevent abuse of process.
The concept of the curative petition first came into being during the Supreme Court of India’s judgment in Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra and another case of 2002. The question was whether an aggrieved person should be entitled to any relief even after the dismissal of a review petition was tackled and thus evolved the idea of “curative petition”.
A curative petition is supported by Article 137 of the Constitution. It says that under Article 145, the Supreme Court has the power to review any judgment made by it. Any such petition needs to be filed within 30 days from the day of the passing of the judgment.
What is the procedure involved in filing such a petition?
A curative petition can be filed after a review plea against the original judgment has been dismissed. The petitioner must establish that there has been a violation of the law of natural justice. Such petitions are rare than regular. The petition is passed to a bench of three senior judges and can only be heard if the majority concludes that the matter is entitled to a hearing. In case the bench concludes that there is no such merit, they may even levy a penalty on the petitioner. The judges may even appoint a senior advocate as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the matter. It is usually given a hearing within a closed chamber, in front of judges. Very rarely are they held openly, in public.
Cases of Curative Petition in recent memory
There have been a few curative petitions filed over the past few years. The most recent is the one filed for two of the four convicts of the 2002 Nirbhaya gangrape case. This was in January 2020 and was dismissed. Before that, in December 2018, a curative petition by an NGO, Common Cause, against the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as CBI special director was dismissed. Before that in April 2017, the Supreme Court had dismissed another curative petition by rape convicts in the infamous Saumya rape and murder case from Kerala. There have been many more such instances over the year. Rarely have they been a success.
Curative petitions are another step towards ensuring proper justice. Justice delayed should not mean justice denied. The Indian judiciary is well equipped to ensure that and provisions such as these help them attain their difficult task.
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