The Indian judicial system is a very vast and dynamic body that renders justice based on evidence, equity, and the law of the land. Many times, judgments or orders rendered by the Court may not be satisfactory to the party against whom it is rendered. In such cases, the party has the option to file his grievance before a Court that is superior to the Court passing such judgment or order. The concept is known as an appeal.

It is a remedial concept catered to a person as a right to seek justice against unjust judgments or orders of a Court. The provision for appeal is governed under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter called CPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter called ass CrPC).

The term ‘appeal’ has not been defined in any of the statutes mentioned above; instead, it derives its existence from various judicial examinations. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines appeal as “a legal proceeding by which a case is brought before a higher court for review of the decision of a lower court.”

In simple terms, an appeal is a complaint to a superior Court for an error committed or supposed to have been committed by the inferior Court whose order or judgment the Superior Court is called upon to correct, revise, reverse, or remand. The right to appeal is considered to be a substantive and a statutory right. It is substantive because it has to be taken prospectively unless provided otherwise by any statute.

However, this is not an absolute right as it can be waived off by putting consensus in an agreement. Moreover, a party in a suit can even be stopped to celebrate this right if he has accepted any benefit arising out of a decree or order of the Court. The procedure for appeal as to civil matters has been envisaged in the CPC.

Sections 96 to 112, Orders 41 to 45 of CPC incorporate various appeals in civil-related matters. Similarly, the procedure for appeal in criminal cases against the order or judgment of a Court has been enumerated in the CrPC. Sections 372 to 394 of the CrPC contemplates provisions as to the criminal appeal.

The proviso under section 372 of CrPC stipulates that the aggrieved has the right to appeal against any order/orders passed by a Court under exceptional circumstances consisting of a judgment of conviction for a lesser offense, acquittal, or inadequate compensation. Moreover, section 374 of the Act provides the right to appeal to the Supreme Court, High Court, or the Sessions Court against the conviction of the accused.

However, section 376 of the CrPC prohibits appeal in petty cases. Similarly, under Section 378 of the Act renders power to the District Magistrate and the State Government to direct the Public Prosecutor to present appeal in case of acquittal to the respective Courts limited to the procedure within the said section. 

It can explicitly be observed that through the process of appeal, a person inherits an opportunity to get a legal or factual error in an order or judgment corrected or scrutinized. However, appeal against any judgment, order, or sentence of a criminal or a civil Court can only be preferred when enumerated explicitly in the statutes.

Thus, the right to appeal can only be exercised within limits laid down by CrPC and the CPC or any other law which is in force, and thus, this is a constricted right