Section 372 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.) – Explained!
According to the literal dictionary meaning, “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.”
The present section expressly provides that there can be no right of appeal against a judgment or decision of a lower Court unless a provision for appeal is specifically provided by the law itself. It therefore, follows that there is no inherent right of appeal because an appeal is a creature of the statute.
The Code does not permit appeal in petty cases (Section 376), nor does it allow an appeal where the accused is convicted on his plea of guilty (Section 375). The provisions as to appeal in various cases are contained in Sections 373 to 380 of the Code excepting the two aforesaid sections. Other relevant sections relating to appeal are Sections 86, 250, 341, 351, 449 and 458.
Where a right of appeal has been provided under a law, it is not a mere matter of procedure but it becomes a substantive right which crystallizes at the very date of the institution of proceedings and it concludes right to move in appeal to the superior Court.
A right to appeal so conferred cannot be taken away by transfer of case from the lower Court to the superior Court.
Appeal to Supreme Court:
An appeal to the Supreme Court will lie under Section 374 (1) from any order of conviction made by the High Court in the exercise of its extraordinary criminal original jurisdiction and under Section 379 against a conviction by a High Court.
The Supreme Court may grant special leave to appeal under Article 136 (1) of the Constitution where it is shown that some special and exceptional circumstances exist and grave and substantial injustice has been done and, therefore, the case warrants a review of the decision by the Supreme Court.
The Apex Court in Pritam Singh v. State has approved the Privy Council decision in Dellect’s case and observed that the principles laid down in that decision of the Privy Council provided useful guidelines in the exercise of discretion in granting special leave. In Dellect’s case the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council observed:
“His Majesty will not review or interfere with the course of criminal proceedings, unless it is shown that, by a disregard of the forms of legal process, or some violation of the principles of natural justice, or otherwise, substantial and grave injustice has been done.”
The provisions relating to appeal to the Supreme Court in criminal cases are contained in Article 132 (1) and (2), Article 134 (1) and Article 136 (1) of the Constitution of India. They are briefly stated as follows:
Article 132 (1) provides that appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgment, decree or final order of a High Court in civil, criminal or other matters where the High Court certifies chat the case involves a substantial question of law as to interpretation of the Constitution. Article 132 (2) further provides that where such certificate has been refused by a High Court, the Supreme Court may by grant of Special leave entertain a criminal appeal involving a substantial question of law.
Article 134 (1) provides for a criminal appeal against the High Court to the Supreme Court where High Court in appeal has reversed the order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death or the High Court has withdrawn for trial before itself any case from a subordinate Court and has convicted the accused to death in such trial, or certifies that the case fit one for an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Article 136 (1) provides that the Supreme Court may in its discretion, grants special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree determination, sentence or order in any matter passed or made by any Court or tribunal in the territory of India. Article 136 (2), however, makes it clear that the provision contained in Article 136 (1) as stated above, shall not apply to any Court or Tribunal relating to Armed Forces.