Criminal Appeal

Criminal Appeal

“An appeal…is when you ask one court to show its contempt for another court.”

-Finley Peter Dunne

It is a well said saying that ‘nobody is perfect.’ There are chances of mistakes and errors in orders or judgements delivered by judges. To ensure that the parties to the case do not suffer any injustice because of mistake or error of concerned judge, the law provides the provisions for appeal by which concerned case can be reheard by the higher court to meet the ends of justice. Appeal is a process where a person concerned to the case asks higher court to review the case for legal errors committed by the lower judiciary. There are numerous of options for seeking relief from criminal justice when an individual got convicted for criminal offence.

An individual may file appeal for acquittal or to reduce the sentence. There are certain provisions which have been enshrined in the criminal procedure on appeal against a judgment or order of criminal courts.

Definition of Appeal:

The word appeal is nowhere defined in the Cr.P.C. howbeit it can be understood as judicial examination by higher court of decision given by lower court. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary appeal is “a legal proceeding by which a case is brought before a higher court for review of the decision of a lower court.” The Cambridge dictionary defines appeal as “it is a request made to a court of law or to someone in authority to change a previous decision.”  It is notable here that an appeal cannot lie from any judgement or an order a criminal court except for the statutory provisions laid down by Cr.P.C. or any other law in force.

Criminal Appeal under Indian Law:

The Code of Criminal Procedure contains provisions related to appeal from Sections 372 to 394. Generally, same set of rules are followed for appeal in the Sessions Courts and High Court, however High Court in the State enjoys more powers as compared to Sessions Courts. The Supreme of Indian being highest court in the country enjoys discretionary and plethora of powers in cases of appeals. The SC powers are largely governed by the provisions enshrined under Indian Constitution and the Supreme Court (Enlargement of Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction), 1970.

              Article 134 (1) of the Indian Constitution laid down appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Article 134 (2) of the Indian Constitution confers additional powers on the Supreme Court to entertain and hear appeals from the High Court under certain circumstances. As per Article 136 of the Indian Constitution, Supreme Court may in its discretion grant special leave to appeal against any judgement, decree, sentence, or order passed by any Court or Tribunal in India.

All the convicted persons in trial can avail the similar right to appeal.  Howbeit, there are certain cases in where there is no right to appeal. The criminal law gives paramount consideration to appeal as the judgements or orders passed attain finality on appeal except some cases.

Can we file appeal in all cases?

The answer to this proposition would be negative as Sections 375 and 376 bar appeals in certain cases. Although revision is maintainable but appeal shall not lie in the following cases:-

  • Where High Court passes a sentence of imprisonment not more than 6 months or fine not exceeding Rs. 1000/- or both.
  • Where Sessions Court or Metropolitan Magistrate passes a sentence of imprisonment not more than 3 months or fine not exceeding Rs. 200/- or both.
  • Where Magistrate of the First Class passes a sentence of fine not more than Rs. 100/-.
  • Where a Magistrate in summary case passes a sentence of fine not more than Rs. 200/-.

Limitation period for filing appeal:

A criminal appeal can be filed before higher court within 30 days from the date of order of judgement if appeal is to be filed against death sentence passed by Sessions Court or High Court in exercise of its original jurisdiction. Howbeit, the appeal against any other sentence or order can be within limitation period of 60 days. It is marked here that the court can condone the delay in filing an appeal on sufficient cause shown by the appellant.

Is any court fee is applicable on criminal appeals?

There is no need to pay court fee for filing a criminal appeal if the convicted person is in jail. In other cases court fee is required to pay as per the schedule of the court.

Judicial Approach:

In Arun Kumar vs State of Uttar Pradesh (AIR 1989 SC 1445), the SC held that if the High Court found that the view taken by the Sessions Judge to acquit the appellants was manifestly wrong, moreover, it even led to miscarriage of justice; therefore, the High Court was correct in setting aside this acquittal and convicting them.

In Satya Pal Singh vs State of Madhya Pradesh (Criminal Appeal No. 1315 of 2015), the SC held that the father of the deceased has a locus standi to present an appeal to the High Court under the provisions of Section 372 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, as he falls within the definition of ‘victim’ to question the correctness of judgment and order of an acquittal of accused.


Appeal is a review of the record of lower court’s proceedings to determine whether any injustice is caused to the appellant. The record the lower court includes all pre-trial and post-trial proceedings, evidences admitted et al. The normal function of the court of appeal is to correct the decision appealed if necessary. The State Government has been empowered to direct the public prosecutor to file appeal against the sentence on the grounds of inadequacy. However, this ground of inadequacy is not available for victims or complainant.

It is germane for court to provide reasonable opportunity to the accused to show cause against any enhancement of the punishment in the interest of justice. The accused may plead for his/her acquittal or reduction in the punishment while showing cause.

-Kiranpreet Kaur

Associate at Aggarwals & Associates S.A.S. Nagar, Mohali