Criminal Appeal Petition in India

Law Civil Law

In India, the judicial system generally consists of two types of cases, Civil and Criminal. Civil laws are the laws that regulate all the crimes that are committed against an individual, whereas criminal laws regulate criminal offenses that are committed against society as a whole. Criminal offenses have a significant impact of it on the public at large and therefore are enforced by the law.

What do you mean by appeal?

The judicial system functions on the motto that no innocent shall be punished and therefore, to pass the judgment in a just manner, the concept of appeal were introduced. Any aggrieved person by the order of the court exercising original jurisdiction can successfully prove that the order passed by the court is erroneous. Mostly, the accused may prefer an appeal to the court exercising appellate jurisdiction.

A person who has been convicted of a crime has an option of filing an appeal to have a criminal conviction overturned or a sentence reduced.

Appeals in criminal cases

A limited criminal appellate jurisdiction is conferred upon the Supreme Court by Article 134 of the Indian Constitution. It is limited in the sense that the Supreme Court has been constituted as a Court of Criminal Appeals in exceptional cases where the demand of justice requires interference by the highest Court of the land.

Modes by which a criminal appeal can be brought before the Supreme Court

  • Without a certificate of the High Court. 
  • With a certificate of the High Court. 
  • Appeal by Special Leave

The objective of the Criminal Appeal 

The objective of the first level of appeal in criminal cases are:

  • To protect the parties to the appeal from the legal errors in the proceeding which may lead to injustice to the parties  
  • To develop and define the substantive and procedural doctrine of criminal law 
  • To develop and maintain uniform, consistent standards, and practices in the criminal process.

Grounds for filing Criminal appeal

The criminal justice system is highly sensitive and therefore appeal in such cases shall be allowed only on certain matters, the various grounds of appeal are stated hereunder: -

  • Where the order passed by the lower court is a serious error of law (plain error);
  • Where the evidence presented in the court does not support the verdict;
  • Where the lower court abused its discretion in making an errant ruling;
  • The claim of ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment.

Power of Criminal Appellate court  

The appellate court has the power to dismiss the appeal if it thinks that there exists no sufficient ground for appeal. However, no such dismissal order shall be passed without hearing the appellant or his pleader, where the appellate court has not dismissed the appeal, it has the below-given powers: - 

  • In an appeal from an order of acquittal: - reverse such order and direct that further inquiry be made, or that the accused be re-tried or committed for trial, as the case may be, or find him guilty and pass sentence on him according to the law;
  • In an appeal from a conviction: - reverse the finding and the sentence and acquit or discharge the accused, or order him to be re-tried by a Court of competent jurisdiction subordinate to such Appellate Court or committed for trial, or alter the finding, maintaining the sentence, or with or without altering the finding, alter the nature of the extent, or the nature and extent, of the sentence, but not to enhance the same;
  • In an appeal for enhancement of sentence: - reverse the finding and sentence and acquit or discharge the accused or order him to be re-tried by a Court competent to try the offense, or alter the finding maintaining the sentence, or with or without altering the finding, alter the nature of the extent, or the nature and extent, of the sentence, to enhance or reduce the same;
  • in an appeal from any other order: - alter or reverse such order;

Procedure in hearing criminal appeals 

The appeal in case of criminal cases is to be presented by the person convicted or being accused of an offense or his advocate in the form of a petition in writing. However, if the convict is in prison, he may submit his appeal through the jail authorities. It is crucial for individuals facing criminal charges to consult with a criminal lawyer to ensure that their appeal is prepared and presented effectively

Points to be noted before drafting the petition:-

  1. It should be concise
  2. It shall contain the clear grounds on which appeal is sought 

Appellant to be heard

The court may dismiss the appeal without a detailed hearing if the court believes that there are no sufficient grounds for interference this is known as informal disposal or summary disposal. Before dismissing the appeal the reasonable opportunity of being heard shall be given to the appellant or his Advocate, if the criminal appeal petition cannot be rejected summarily it should be admitted to hearing

Notice of date of hearing

If the Appellate Court decides to hear the appeal, a notice of the day fixed for hearing should be given to the appellant or his pleader and notice must also be given to such officer as the State Government may appoint in this behalf, The order fixing the date should state under what section the hearing is and the notice of hearing shall clearly state the specified time, place and day the appeal is heard and disposed of.

The High court is required to give reasons for dismissing the appeal and the power to dismiss the appeal summarily has to be used sparingly.

Where an appeal is filed by the accused person from jail?

Where an appeal is filed by an accused person from jail, the court may give the reasonable opportunity of being heard to the accused, however, the court may not hear the accused where the court is of opinion that the appeal filed is frivolous or that bringing the accused to the court would bring inconvenience disproportionate to the circumstances of the case.

No appeal filed by an accused person from jail can be dismissed summarily unless the period allowed for filing such an appeal has expired.