- High Court refused to entertain a writ petition since an alternate remedy was available and because the dispute involved a question of fact which was not amenable in the writ jurisdiction of the High Court.
- The case went to the Supreme court where the court declared that in certain cases, even when an alternate remedy is available, the High Court has writ jurisdiction.
- Further there was no adjudication of facts found necessary in the case. The case was referred back to the High Court.
- In the case of, Magadh Sugar & Energy Ltd. v. The State of Bihar & Ors., the appellant was a sugar mill company, engaged in the manufacture of sugar, and production of electricity from the waste of sugarcane produced.
- The appellant supplies electricity to the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB), which undertakes the business of distributing electricity. Under the Bihar Electricity Duty Act 1948, the appellant was charged a duty and penalty on the electricity supplied to BSEB.
- This was challenged before the High Court which stated that the dispute involved a question of fact which the High Court cannot entertain in the writ jurisdiction, it also observed an alternate remedy was available under the act.
- The present suit has arisen out of the High Court’s refusal to entertain the plea.
Supreme Court’s Observation
- The Supreme Court observed that the High court was entrusted with interpreting the phrases under contention in this suit. The issues raised were questions of law and there was no adjudication on facts needed in the present case.
- The Supreme Court Bench referred to many cases before concluding that the existence of an alternate remedy does not stop the High Court from exercising its jurisdiction.
- Although when an alternate remedy exists, High Court can redirect a petition, there are certain exceptions to the rule of alternate remedy. This includes, inter alia, a situation where proceedings are wholly without jurisdiction. Since the contention is the present plea is the state government’s power to levy tax, the Supreme court found that the High Court can exercise its writ jurisdiction.
- The Supreme Court declined to entertain the writ petition and found it appropriate to restore it to the High Court for a fresh determination.
- When can a High Court exercise Writ jurisdiction despite the existence on an alternate remedy?
- Under which article of the constitution is High Court’s Writ Jurisdiction found?