Law is complex and there are thousands of laws with complex sections and legalese. When a civil case proceeds in the court of law, however, the most important procedural law which is followed in India is the Code of Civil Procedure. There are two important concepts in the same viz. Reference and Revision which may be quite confusing to a layman. Some may think that these terms are same but they are not and there is a vast difference between these two.
Reference vs Revision
The difference between a Reference and a Revision is that Reference is the right of a subordinate court to refer a case to the High Court on a question of law for seeking the opinion of the High Court, where, Revision is the power of High Court to call for a record of a case from a subordinate court where no appeal lies.
However, the above is not the only difference. A comparison between both the terms on certain parameters can shed light on subtle aspects:
Comparison Table Between Reference and Revision (in Tabular Form)
|Parameter of Comparison||Reference||Revision|
|Meaning||Right possessed by the subordinate court to refer a case to the High court for an opinion||Power possessed by the High court to call for records of any case decided by a subordinate court where no appeal lies and where it appears that the subordinate court has misused the discretion or abused the discretion vested in it.|
|Objective||Reference enables a subordinate court to refer a matter to the High Court and seek the opinion of the High Court||Revision enables a High Court to keep a check on the discretion exercised by the subordinate courts and to ensure that the subordinate courts are not acting arbitrarily or illegally or misusing their authority or abusing their discretion|
|Specific instances||1) Where a question of law is involved and subordinate courts need to seek the opinion of High Courts on the same|
2) Cases of non-appealable nature
3) To avoid errors for which there is no remedy at law
|1) When no appeal lies from the judgment which is delivered by the subordinate court and hence the option is for Revision|
2) Subordinate court has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law i.e. exceeded the jurisdiction
3) Subordinate court has failed to exercise jurisdiction vested in it
4) Subordinate court has exercised its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity
|Subject||Reference is commonly done for a situation of “question of law”||Revision is commonly performed to avoid any “errors” being committed by the court.|
|Legal Sections||Section 113 and Order 46 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908||Section 115 and Section 115A of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908|
|Type of Jurisdiction||Reference jurisdiction||Revisional jurisdiction|
|Right possessed by?||Subordinate court||High Court|
|Position of Party||The party is not entitled to refer to the High Court. It is only the subordinate court with which the case is pending who can refer to the High Court.||The party may make an application in prescribed format to the High Court to ask the High Court for Revision of the case.|
Also, the High Court has the power suo moto to also proceed with Revision
|Binding or Consultative?||Reference is more of an advisory or consultative opinion seeking exercise whereby the subordinate court is actively seeking an expert opinion on a complex question of law case from the High Court. Therefore, Reference is not something binding in nature but only prescriptive||Revision has a more binding force as it has the power of the High Court in the form of orders to the subordinate court|
|Hierarchical Nature||The subordinate court can only seek the opinion of the High Court and not from any court which is lower to the subordinate court in rank||The High Court can call for a case for Revision from a court which is subordinate to the High Court and not from a court which is higher in rank to the High Court|
What is Reference?
Reference means in simple terms to refer to someone. From a legal perspective, it has been given a legal meaning under law in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
Reference means a right vested in any court under law to refer a case for the opinion of the High Court. Reference is dealt with under Section 113 and Order 46 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908.
Reference is commonly resorted to by any subordinate court when there is a complex question of law for which an expert opinion is needed from a higher authority.
When the case is being referred to the High Court, the subordinate court shall also state its opinion and reason, and refer the same to the High Court. The High Court after analyzing the case being Referenced may make an order as it deems fit.
What is Revision?
Revision means in simple terms to revise something. From a legal perspective, it has been given a legal meaning under law in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
Revision is a right vested only with the High Court. Section 115 and Section 115A of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 deal with Revision.
Under the right of Revision which has been provided by law, the High Court may call for information regarding a case which has been analysed by any subordinate court. This jurisdiction of the High Court when it exercises the right of Revision is considered as Revisional jurisdiction. Revisional jurisdiction can be exercised by the High Court by analysing if the legal requirements have been fulfilled by the subordinate court.
Revisional jurisdiction can be invoked only if there is no appeal possible for the case being decided by the subordinate court. Also, the Revisional jurisdiction is commonly invoked to check scenarios such as where it appears that subordinate court has utilized jurisdiction not granted to it by law, or where the court has failed to utilize an authority which was available to it or where the court has acted unlawfully or with gross imbalance.
Revisional jurisdiction is basically to check the abuse of discretion by the lower court.
Main Differences Between Reference and Revision
- Reference is dealt with under Section 113 and Order 46 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908. Revision is dealt with under Section 115 and Section 115A of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908.
- The subordinate court can only seek opinion or refer to the High Court and not to any other court. The High Court can call for a case for Revision from a court that is subordinate to the High Court and not from a court that is higher in rank to the High Court.
- Reference is more of a consultative opinion sought from the High Court. Revision is an order passed by High Court calling for record of the case and hence it is binding in nature.
- Reference is a right that is available for the subordinate court. Revision is a right available to the High Court.
- Reference cannot be invoked on a party’s request. Reference can be invoked on a party’s request or by the High Court itself.
- Reference is done for situations on complex questions of law cases. Revision is done to check or prevent abuse of discretion by the subordinate courts.
Reference and Revision are important approaches built under the law to seek expert opinion and check abuse of discretion respectively. Both the mechanisms ensure that the final judgment arrived is sound, and based on expert legal guidance and experience.