Provisions of Appeal under Criminal Procedure Code

Human judgment is not infallible. Despite of all the provisions for ensuring a fair trial and just a decision, mistakes are possible and errors cannot be ruled out. The Criminal Procedure Code therefore provides for ‘appeals’ and ‘revisions’ and thereby enables the superior courts to review and correct the decisions of the lower courts.

Apart from its being a corrective device, the review procedure serves another important purpose. The very fact that the decision of the lower court is duly scrutinized by a superior court in ‘appeal’ or ‘revision’ gives certain satisfaction to the aggrieved party by that decision. The review of the case by superior courts, in a way assures the aggrieved party that all reasonable efforts have been made to reach a just decision free from plausible errors, prejudice and mistakes. Review procedures are therefore importantly useful to inspire in the public mind a better confidence in the administration of criminal justice.

Appeal is one of the two important review procedures, and the present chapter attempts to discuss all its aspects. An appeal is a complaint to a superior court of an injustice done or error committed by an inferior one, whose judgment or decision the court above is called upon to correct or reverse.

In lay terms, ‘appeal’ is defined as an application of plea that is brought to a higher court to review the decision of the lower court. Such application comes as a legal proceeding and cannot be made to the court on the same level as the trial court but to a higher court. For instance, an aggrieved person can file an appeal against the decision of a Magistrate Court to the High Court of the state, he/she can file an appeal against the decision of the High Court to the Court of Appeal, likewise the Supreme Court of India. The decision of the Supreme Court is final and there is no appeal afterward.

Under the code, sections 372-394 govern appeal. It is pertinent to note that an appeal in criminal cases may either be to overturn the decision of the lower court or to affirm the decision or lower the sentence or conviction. In this case, the aggrieved person has been convicted of an offense but the lower court failed to impose the required sentence prescribed by the law for such an offense. Thus only a person affected or aggrieved by a decision of the court may appeal against such decision.

WHAT ARE THE CASES IN WHICH NO APPEAL LIE?

There are certain cases in which no appeal lie such as:

  • No appeal unless provided by law

Section 372 of Cr.P.C lays down the general principle that no appeal shall lie from any judgment or order of a criminal court except as provided by the Code or any other law which authorizes an appeal. It is therefore necessary to bear in mind that an appeal us a creature of statue and there is no inherent right or appeal.

Act 5 of 2005 inserted a proviso to Section 372 with effect from December 2009. It gives the right to the victim to file an appeal in the High Court against any order of a criminal court acquitting the accused or convicting him for a lesser offence or the imposition of inadequate compensation. It confers a right only on a victim and also does not envisage an appeal against an inadequate sentence.

  • No appeal in petty cases

Section 376 provides that there shall be no appeal by a convicted person in any of the following cases, namely:

  1. Where a High Court passes only a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or of fine not exceeding one thousand rupees, or of both such imprisonment and fine:
  2. Where a Court of Session or a Metropolitan Magistrate passes only a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or of fine not exceeding two hundred rupees, or of both such imprisonment and fine:
  3. Where a Magistrate of First class passes only a sentence of fine not exceeding hundred rupees
  4. Where a case tried summarily, a Magistrate empowered to act under Section 260 passes only a sentence or fine not exceeding two hundred rupees.

However, the proviso to Section 376 explains that an appeal may be brought against the      above mentioned non-appealable sentence that if any punishment is combined with it. But it further explained that such sentence shall not be so appealable merely on the ground

  1. That a person is convicted in order to furnish security to keep the peace
  2. That a direction for imprisonment in default of payment of fine is included in the sentence.
  3. The more than one sentence of fine is passed in the case, if the total amount of fine is imposed does not exceed the amount hereinbefore specified in respect of the case.
  • No appeal where the accused is convicted on his plea of guilty

Where an accused person has pleaded guilty and has been convicted on such plea, there shall be no appeal

  1. If the conviction is by a High Court; or
  2. If the conviction is by a Court of Session, metropolitan Magistrate or Magistrate of the first or second class, except as to the extent or legality of the sentence.

The rationale behind the above section 375 is that a person who deliberately pleads guilty cannot be aggrieved by being convicted. When a person is convicted by a court on the basis of his own plea of guilty, he cannot and should have any grouse against the conviction and hence is not entitled to appeal from such a conviction. However if the plea of guilty is not a real one and is obtained by trickery, it is not a plea of guilty for the purposes of the above rule. It is only when there is a genuine plea of guilty made freely and voluntarily that the bar under Section 275 would apply.

In Thippaswamy v. State of Karnataka, the Supreme Court observed that it would be a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution to induce or lead an accused to plead guilty under a promise or assurance that he would be let off lightly and then in appeal or revision to enhance the sentence. A person by pleading guilty does not commit himself to accept the punishment that would be passed against him irrespective pf its nature and legality. Therefore he is not denied the right to challenge the extent and legality of the sentence.

CAN A REVISION BE FILED WHERE THE RIGHT OF APPEAL IS NOT EXERCISED?

Revision can be filed in superior court by the aggrieved party of any judgement passed by the subordinate court where no appeal lies. Revision is discretionary and supervisory power of the superior court, it does not warrant any statutory right to the aggrieved party, unlike appeal.

Under Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 Revision is explained for criminal matters in section 397. Under Cr.P.C revisional jurisdiction can be exercised by the High Court as well as Sessions Judge. As per section 397 of Cr.P.C, to check the correctness or legality of any finding, sentence or order or proceeding, the Court may call for such record or direct the execution of any sentence or order to be suspended and if the accused is in jail a bail be released or on a bond, while the examination of the record is pending in the court. The word “proceeding” includes a pending case.

Some exceptions to discretionary powers of the court:

  • The power of revision shall not be exercised in relation to any interlocutory or interim order passed in appeal, inquiry, trial or other proceedings. An interim order is a temporary order passed by a Court during pendency of a trial.
  • High Court of Session Judges shall not entertain an application for revision by a person who has already applied for the same in either of them.

Illustration 1: Satya Pal Sigh v. State of Madhya Pradesh

The appellant in this case is the father of the deceased and he has a locus standi to represent the appeal to the High Court against the order of acquittal under proviso of Section 372 because he falls within the meaning of victim. It can be done without obtaining the leave of the High Court as required under Sub section (3) of Section 378 of Criminal Procedure Code. The victim is the legal heir and he has the right of questioning the correctness of the judgment.

Illustration 2: DURGA PRASAD SONI AND ANR V. STATE OF ANDHRA PRADEESH ON JUNE 21, 1990 

Section 372 lays down that there is no appeal for a judgment or order of Criminal Court except as provided by the Code or any other law which in force at that time. It is clear from that the right to appeal is a statutory right. Section 373 deals with orders against securities.

Illustration 3: JAGDISH AND ANR. V. THE STATE OF RAJASTHAN ON JANUARY 8th, 1992

The appeal was not maintainable because of Section 376 of Criminal Procedure Code, no appeal has been provided in petty cases. The submission is that the accused has to furnish security to keep good behavior and peace under Section 4 of Probation of Offenders Act and no appeal lies under Section 376 and Section 374 of Criminal Procedure Code. The order should be treated as an order in revision and the second revision is not permissible.

 

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