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Construction of a Document of title or of a document which is the foundation of rights of parties necessarily raises a question of law

Chunilal V. Mehta & Sons Ltd. v. Century Spinning
and Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
AIR 1962 SC 1314: 1962 (I) LLJ 656
JUDGES: B.P. Sinha, J.L. Kapur, M. Hidayatullah,
J.C. Shah and J.R. Mudholkar, JJ.
Date of Decision: 5-5-1962

This was appeal by a special leave against the judgment of High Court of Bombay is an appeal from the judgment of a single judge of that court claiming before High Court was for about 26 lakhs of rupees. Being aggrieved by the decision of the High Court, the appellant applied for a certificate under article 133(1)(a) of the Constitution. The judgment of the High Court in appeal was in affirmance of the judgment of the single judge dismissing the appellant’s suit for damages and therefore, it was necessary for the appellant to establish that a substantial question of law was involved in the appeal. On behalf of the appellant it was contended that the question raised concerned the interpretation to be placed on certain clauses of the managing agency agreement upon which their claim in the suit was founded and that it’s the interpretation placed by the appeal court on those clauses was erroneous and thus deprived them of the claim to a substantial amount, the matter deserved to be certified by the High Court. The judge dismissed the application without a judgment apparently following the previous decisions. The appellant therefore moved the Supreme Court to grant special leave.

What is substantial question of law?

It was held that the proper test for determining whether a question of law raised, is substantial, would be whether it is of general public importance or whether it directly and substantially affects the rights of the parties and if so whether it is either an open question in the sense that it is not finally settled by court or is not free from difficulty or calls for discussion of alternative views. If the question is settled by the Highest Court or the general principles to be applied in determining the question are well-settled is a mere question of applying those principles or that the plea raised is palpably absurd the question would not be a substantive question of law. It was finally held that the construction of the managing agency agreement was not only one law but also it was neither simple nor free from doubt. In this manner the High Court was in error in refusing to grant the appellant a certificate under article 133(1)(a) that the appeal involved a substantial question of law.

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