Legal Procedures Regarding Appeal under Indian Criminal Laws

S. 372 lays down the general rule that no appeal will lie from any judgement or order of a Criminal Court, except as provided by the Criminal Procedure Code or by any other law. After laying down this general principle, several specific cases where an appeal will or will not lie are laid down as under.

Appeal to the Sessions Court:

Section 373 of the Code of Criminal Procedure lays down that an appeal can be filed before the Sessions Court by any person—

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(a) Who has been ordered, under S. 117, to give security for keeping the peace or for good behaviour; or

(b) Who is aggrieved by any order refusing to accept or rejecting a security under S. 121.

Appeals from Convictions:

As regards appeals from convictions, it is provided that any person who is convicted on a trial held by a High Court in its extraordinary original criminal jurisdiction can appeal to the Supreme Court. If a person is convicted on a trial held by a Sessions Judge, or an Additional Sessions Judge, or by any other Court where a sentence of imprisonment of more than 7 years has been passed against him, or against any other person convicted at the same trial, he can appeal to the High Court.

Except as provided above, an appeal lies to the Sessions Court by-

(i) Any person convicted on a trial held by a Metropolitan Magistrate or an Assistant Sessions Judge or a First Class Magistrate or a Second Class Magistrate;

(ii) Any person sentenced under S. 325 (viz., in the case of an accused where the Magistrate is of the opinion that he cannot pass a sentence which is sufficiently severe, and therefore submits the entire proceedings to the Chief Judicial Magistrate);

(iii) Any person in respect of whom an order has been made, or a sentence has been passed, under S. 360 by any Magistrate (i.e. an order releasing a person on probation or after admonition).

The Gujarat High Court has held that if several persons are convicted at a single trial by a Sessions Judge, all such persons, or some of them, can file one joint appeal in the High Court. In such a case, it is not necessary for them to file separate appeals. (Lalu Jela, — A.I.R. 1962 Guj. 125)

No appeal when accused pleads guilty:

In cases where an accused has pleaded guilty, and is convicted on such a plea, there can be no appeal,—

(a) If the conviction is by the High Court; or

(b) If the conviction is by a Sessions Court, or Metropolitan Magistrate of the First or Second Class, except as to the extent or legality of the sentence.

As held by the Calcutta High Court, a plea of guilty obtained by trickery is no plea of guilty in the eyes of law, and the accused is entitled to satisfy the Court that there was, in fact, no plea of guilty. (Prafulla Kumar, — 1943 1 Cal. 540)

No appeal in petty cases:

S. 376, which forbids appeals in petty cases, provides that there is no right of appeal by a convicted person in any of the following four cases:

(a) Where a High Court passes only a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or of fine not exceeding Rs. 1,0, or both;

(b) Where a Sessions Court or a Metropolitan Magistrate passes only a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or fine not exceeding Rs. 200, or both;

(c) Where a First Class Magistrate passes only a sentence of fine not exceeding Rs. 100; or

(d) Where a Magistrate, who is empowered to act under S. 260, tries a case summarily, and passes only a sentence of fine not exceeding Rs. 200.

However, if any other punishment is combined with any of the four types of sentence given above, an appeal can be filed against such a sentence. However, even such a sentence cannot be appealed against, merely on the ground—

(i) That the person who is convicted is ordered to furnish security to keep the peace; or

(ii) That a direction for imprisonment in default of payment of fine is included in the sentence; or

(iii) That more than one sentence of fine is passed in the case, if the total amount of fine imposed does not exceed the amounts specified above.

Case:

In one instance, a Magistrate trying a case passed at first an unappealable sentence, but shortly thereafter, at the request of the accused, added further words to the sentence passed so as to make it appealable. On appeal, the Sessions Judge struck out the added words, and thereafter, declined to go into the merits of the case, on the ground that the original sentence passed was not open to appeal.

In these circumstances, it was held by the Bombay High Court that when the Magistrate once passed a particular sentence, an appeal lay to the Sessions Court, independently of whether the sentence was passed legally or illegally. Therefore, once the Sessions Judge was seized of the appeal, he ought to have heard the appeal on its merits. (Keshavlal, — 13, P.L.R. 550)