Special Leave Petition (SLP)

29 Oct 2022  Read 21037 Views

For one or more reasons, a special leave petition (SLP) has always been in the news, thereby making it significant for competitive exams. Suppose you are asked why this SLP is so important, then remember, it will only be because it gives extraordinary powers to the Supreme Court of India as it can only be filed there. The Supreme Court, under Article 136 (SLP), has extraordinary jurisdiction wherein special leave can be granted by it to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any matter passed by any court or tribunal in India with no limits or restrictions. 

This article will discuss the Special Leave Petition, who can file it, the grounds for filing, case laws and when it can be filed. 

What is Special Leave Petition?

It is important to note that Special Leave Petition is not an appeal in itself, but a petition filed for an appeal, and the Supreme Court grants the “Leave” to convert the petition into an “Appeal”.

Grounds for filing Special leave petition

  • It is very commonly known that against any judgment, an appeal can lie by the aggrieved party to a superior court; however, a condition of appeal is such that it can be made in a case where a substantial question of law is involved or gross injustice has been observed. 

  • A purely administrative or executive order or ruling cannot be a matter of appeal; the judgment, decree or order against which an appeal is made must possess some judicial character.

  • So, SLP provides the aggrieved party special permission to be heard in the Supreme Court in an appeal against any judgment or order of any Court or tribunal in India.

Exception to Special Leave Petition

The exception is that the Special Leave Petition shall not apply to any judgment or order involving the armed forces as per Article 136(2).

What is “special” in Special Leave Petition?

It is a significant question of what distinguishes article 136 from other general appeals provided under articles 132-135 of the Indian Constitution

  • First, it is not limited to appeals against judgments, decrees & final orders of the High court, but it can also be granted against the judgments of lower courts in India. 

  • Secondly, it is very flexible compared to articles 132-135 of the Constitution (jurisdictions), that deal with appeals. This means that the judgments, decrees or orders do not have to be final; that is, appeals are allowed against interlocutory & interim judgments. 

  • The cases may be either criminal or civil, or they can be Income tax-related cases, cases from several tribunals etc. And it is generally believed that the appellant has exhausted all other recourses the law provides, so he is filing SLP.  

  • SLP can also be filed when a High Court does not approve fitness for appeal, that is, when it denies the certificate of appeal to the Supreme Court.

Who can file SLP?

SLP is filed by an aggrieved party against the judgment or order of refusal to grant the certificate of appeal, or SLP can be filed in a case where a substantial question of law arises and gross injustice has been involved. In this case, the aggrieved party has to provide a brief synopsis of the facts & issues presented in the case and a list of dates. (special permission to be heard in SC)

Cases on Special Leave Petition (SLP)

1. Rajendra Kumar v. State (1980)

In this case, SC heard an SLP against the judgment of the CJM (Chief Judicial Magistrate). The appellant did not approach the High Court but to the Supreme Court. And the apex court agreed to make an exception by accepting the Special Leave Petition (just heard, not entertained or allowed it). But, the Supreme Court elucidated that the Chief Judicial Magistrate does not come under the purview of a Tribunal & ordinarily, such a petition would not be entertained.

2. Pritam Singh v. State (1950)

Some principles were laid down by the Supreme Court of India by which it would have been able to exercise its jurisdiction in providing special leave under Article 136. The Court, therefore, held that the wide discretionary power that the court is vested under it was to be exercised in exceptional cases only. A standard would have to be maintained for granting special leave for a broad range of matters under Article 136. Also, it can grant leave in civil, criminal, income tax cases etc.

3. Sanwat Singh v. State of Rajasthan (1961)

There had been a riot b/w two rival factions, which led to injuries to many & the fatality of two farmers. However, the Sessions court acquitted the convicts, but on appeal to the High court, few were sentenced, overturning the acquittal judgment. So, special leave was applied by one of the convicts against the conviction & imprisonment given to him by the High Court. SC held that Article 136 implies a discretionary power which cannot be exhaustively defined & the appeal was dismissed on these grounds.

4. Laxmi and Co. v. Anand R Deshpande (1973)

The Court took notice of later events while hearing appeals under Article 136 to cut short the litigation, preserve the rights of both parties and support the ends of justice.

5. Kunhayammed v. State of Kerala (2000)

Mere dismissal of the SLP does not mean res judicata. It simply means that the case was not fit for the grant of an SLP, and it is open to the aggrieved party to go to the concerned court for review under Art. 226 (writ petition).

Can High Court review its order if the Supreme Court rejects SLP?

High Courts can still review their judgments even if the Supreme Court rejects the SLP.

Can Writ Petition be filed after the dismissal of SLP by the Supreme Court?

  • One should remember that a writ petition before the High Court after SLP against an order of the Tribunal or so is completely a separate proceeding. 

  • And questions to be decided by the Supreme Court expressly, implicitly or even constructively while dismissing the SLP cannot be reopened in a subsequent writ proceeding before the High Court.

  • Also, one should remember that the principle of res judicata (a matter that has been already adjudicated by a competent court & therefore may not be pursued further by the same parties for the same facts in a subsequent suit) or any principle of public policy analogous will not bar the Supreme Court dismissing the special leave petition to bar the trial of the same issues in a separate proceeding, that is; the writ proceeding before the High Court can be filed even if SLP is dismissed. 

  • Therefore, it will not be a “good exercise of the court’s discretion to refuse to consider a writ petition on its merits solely on the ground that a non-speaking order of SC had dismissed an SLP filed by the petitioner in the Supreme Court.”


Hence, the Supreme Court grants the “Leave” to convert the petition into an “Appeal”. Once this occurs, the matter is heard, and the judgement is passed accordingly. To conclude, remember that there is no limit under Article 136, as in other Articles where it is provided that an appeal can lie only from a judgment, decree or final order. Even from interim orders, special leave to appeal is permissible, and appeals can lie from any court or tribunal in India.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 275 Post(s)

She is a Legal Content Manager at Finology Legal! With a Masters in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), a BBA.LL.B from ITM University, and patent analyst training from IIPTA, she truly specializes in her field. Her passion for IPR and Criminal laws is evident from her advanced certification in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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