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DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/04/2002

COURT: Supreme Court of India

PETITIONER: Rupa Ashok Hurra 

RESPONDENT: Ashok Hurra & Anr.

BENCH: S.P.Bharucha CJI, S.S.M.Quadri, U.C.Banerjee, S.N.Variava, S.V.Patil.

SUBJECT: Matrimonial dissension


The case of Rupa Ashok Hurra v. Ashok Hurra (AIR 2002 SC 1771) is rooted in a complex matrimonial dispute that unfolded through a series of legal proceedings, ultimately culminating in a constitutional challenge. The facts as outlined in the case can be summarized as follows:

The parties involved, Mr. Ashok Hurra and Mrs. Rupa Ashok Hurra, had initially entered into a matrimony as per the Hindu rites and customs in Ahmadabad. However, over time, disputes and differences emerged between them, leading to a strained marital relationship. The conflicts and friction persisted until 1983 when Mrs. Rupa Ashok Hurra left the matrimonial home.

In 1984, both parties jointly initiated legal proceedings by filing a petition for divorce under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. This petition sought a simple decree of dissolution of their marriage through mutual consent, reflecting their intention to separate amicably.

In the following year, in 1985, Mr. Ashok Hurra unilaterally filed an application seeking a divorce decree. Subsequently, the court proceedings witnessed several adjournments during which the parties engaged in discussions aimed at reaching a compromise and settlement. However, these negotiations failed to yield a resolution.

By 1986, probably after 18 months of filing the case Mrs. Rupa Ashok Hurra decided to withdraw her consent for the divorce, leading her to file an application for the dismissal of the divorce by mutual consent. In response, Mr. Ashok Hurra contested her right to revoke the consent that had already been granted, asserting that she no longer possessed the authority to do so. Importantly, he continued to seek a divorce through the legal process despite her objection.

As a consequence of this ongoing dispute and the wife’s objection to the divorce, Mr. Ashok Hurra approached the Supreme Court of India, seeking a divorce and appealing for its authorization. The Supreme Court, in a judgment delivered on March 10, 1997, rendered a decision that allowed Mr. Ashok Hurra’s Special Leave Petition (SLP) on certain conditions. These conditions stipulated that a decree of divorce under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, would be granted, but it was contingent upon the payment or deposit of a significant maintenance amount of 10 lakh rupees in court for the respondent, Mrs. Rupa Ashok Hurra (the wife).

The pivotal aspect of this case is that Mrs. Rupa Ashok Hurra, unhappy with the judgment passed in the SLP, filed a review petition under the Constitutional provision of Article 137, seeking the reconsideration of the order issued in the SLP. Despite her efforts, her review petition was dismissed. However, the three-judge bench that dismissed the review petition raised several critical constitutional issues and referred them to a constitutional bench. These constitutional issues, as framed by the three-judge bench, question the court’s jurisdiction to review its own judgments, particularly in the context of SLPs, and examine the constitutional validity of such reviews when they affect substantive rights and consent decrees. These issues also explore the delicate balance between the finality of judgments and the imperative of delivering justice.

Thus, the case of Rupa Ashok Hurra v. Ashok Hurra ultimately centers on these constitutional issues and the broader questions they raise regarding the court’s review jurisdiction and the principles of justice enshrined in the Constitution of India.


The primary legal issues that emerged from the case were as follows:

  1. Whether the Supreme Court had the jurisdiction to review and modify its own judgments, particularly consent decrees.
  2. If the review jurisdiction existed, what were the principles governing it, and under what circumstances would a judgment be reviewed?


Mrs. Rupa Ashok Hurra, as the petitioner in this case, advanced several critical contentions. Firstly, she argued that the Supreme Court held the jurisdiction to review its own judgments when there was an error apparent on the face of the record, an essential power to correct miscarriages of justice and to uphold principles of fairness and equity. She asserted that the modification of the consent decree, initially based on mutual agreement between the parties, constituted an erroneous judgment that had caused a miscarriage of justice and resulted in a manifest error in the judgment. Therefore, she petitioned the Court to rectify this error and reinstate the original terms of the consent decree. Additionally, she contended that her withdrawal of consent for the divorce was valid, considering that circumstances had changed since the initial agreement. She believed that her right to withdraw consent should be upheld, especially since the divorce had not been finalized. She also argued that the modification of the consent decree impacted her substantive rights, as it had the force of a contract between the parties. Lastly, Mrs. Rupa Ashok Hurra raised broader constitutional concerns, questioning the constitutional validity of the court’s review jurisdiction, particularly in cases like this one, where the review could significantly impact substantive rights and consent decrees, potentially infringing upon principles of fairness, justice, and due process enshrined in the Constitution of India.


Mr. Ashok Hurra, as the respondent in this case, put forth several contentions. Firstly, he argued that the consent decree, which had initially resulted from a mutual agreement between the parties, should be considered final and binding once recorded by the court. He asserted that consent decrees held a special status in law and were not subject to unilateral revocation, especially after a significant period had passed since their creation. Mr. Ashok Hurra defended the Court’s modification of the consent decree, stating that it was a legitimate exercise of judicial authority aimed at ensuring justice and fairness in the case. He contended that the Court had the power to correct errors apparent on the face of the record, and in this particular instance, the modification was necessary to address what the Court perceived as an injustice. Furthermore, Mr. Ashok Hurra argued against the petitioner’s assertion that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to review its own judgments, particularly in cases involving consent decrees. He maintained that the review was a necessary tool to rectify manifest errors and ensure that justice was upheld. Lastly, while acknowledging the constitutional concerns raised by the petitioner, Mr. Ashok Hurra defended the constitutional validity of the court’s review jurisdiction. He argued that this jurisdiction was in line with the Constitution’s objective of ensuring justice and fairness and that it was an essential part of the judicial process. In essence, Mr. Ashok Hurra’s primary contention was that the consent decree should be treated as final and binding, and the Court had acted correctly in modifying it to correct what it perceived as a manifest error. He defended the court’s review jurisdiction as a necessary means of upholding justice.


In its judgment, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the jurisdiction of the court to review its own judgments, including consent decrees, when errors were apparent on the face of the record. The Court reiterated that the review jurisdiction was a vital power bestowed upon it under Article 137 of the Constitution of India. However, it clarified that this power had to be exercised sparingly and only in exceptional circumstances.

Regarding the contention of Mrs. Rupa Ashok Hurra, the Court agreed that there was indeed a manifest error in the judgment, as the modification of the consent decree had been unintended and resulted in an injustice. The Court emphasized that it was not revisiting the merits of the case but merely correcting a mistake that was evident on the face of the record. In this context, the Court made a clear distinction between an honest mistake and a manifest error.

The Supreme Court held that the review jurisdiction was not meant to re-evaluate or re-argue the merits of a case. Instead, it was a limited power to correct errors that were so glaring that they struck at the very foundation of the judgment. In this case, the modification of the consent decree was such an error.

Therefore, the Court allowed the review petition, set aside its earlier judgment that had inadvertently modified the consent decree, and restored the original terms of the consent decree. In doing so, it ensured that justice was upheld and that the error in the judgment was rectified, without compromising the finality of judgments or the sanctity of consent decrees.

This judgment in Rupa Ashok Hurra v. Ashok Hurra stands as an important precedent in Indian jurisprudence, reaffirming the court’s commitment to rectify manifest errors while upholding the principles of justice and fairness in the legal system. It provides a clear framework for the exercise of the court’s review jurisdiction, emphasizing the need for caution and circumspection in utilizing this power.


  1. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/123456797/
  2. https://lawplanet.in/rupa-ashok-hurra-vs-ashok-hurra/
  3. https://www.courtkutchehry.com/Judgement/Search/t/265863-rupa-ashok-hurra-vs-ashok

Written by Abhaya Bansod, an intern at Legal Vidhiya, Government Law College under Nagpur University.


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