Criminal Appeals & Suspension of Sentence

The Constitution contains provisions relating to High Courts under articles 214 to 231. It provides a High Court for each State or for a common High Court for two or more States. A High Court may have one or more benches at different place in its jurisdiction for keeping in view the convenience of the people.

The jurisdiction and powers of the High Courts, from the criminal justice point of view, can be summarized as under:

1. Any person convicted in a trial held by a Sessions Judge or an Additional Sessions Judge or in a trial held by any other court in which a sentence of imprisonment for more than seven years has been passed against him may appeal to the High Court under section 374 of the Cr.P.C., 1973.

2. Under section 377, Cr.P.C. the State Government and the Union Government may file appeal to the High Court against the sentence imposed on the ground of inadequacy of such sentence.

3. In cases of acquittal, the State or the Union Government or the complainant, if the case was instituted upon private complaint, the High Court may grant special leave to appeal under section 378, Cr.P.C, 1973.

4. Under section 397, Cr.P.C., the High Court may call for and examine the record of any proceeding before any inferior criminal court situated within its local jurisdiction for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the correctness, legality or propriety of any finding, sentence or order. The Court may, when calling for such record, direct that the execution of any sentence or order be suspended, and if the accused is in confinement, that he be released on bail or on his bond pending the examination of the record.

5. As provided under article 228 of the Constitution, if the High Court is satisfied that a case pending in a court subordinate to it involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution, it shall withdraw the case and may—(a) either dispose of the case itself, or;

(b) determine the said question of law and return the case to the court from which the case has been so withdrawn together with a copy of its judgement on such question.

6. Section 407, Cr.P.C empowers the High Court to transfer any case or appeal from a criminal court subordinate to its authority to any other such criminal court of equal or superior jurisdiction.

7. As per the requirement of section 28, Cr.P.C., any sentence of death passed by a Sessions Judge or Additional Sessions Judge shall be submitted to the High Court for confirmation. The High Court is empowered to direct, under section 367, Cr.P.C., that a further inquiry should be made or additional evidence be taken upon any point bearing upon the guilt or innocence of the convicted person, or it, under section 368, Cr.P.C., may confirm the sentence, or pass any other sentence warranted by law, or may annul the conviction, or may acquit the accused person.

8. Article 226 of the Constitution empowers every High Court to issue to any person or authority directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo-warranto and certiorari for the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights and for any other purpose.

9. Every High Court has the power of superintendence over all courts and tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has held that the High Court has both powers of administrative as well as judicial superintendence over the subordinate courts within its jurisdiction.


A Sessions Judge or Additional Sessions Judge may pass any sentence authorized by law; but any sentence of death passed by any such Judge shall be subject to confirmation by the High Court. An Assistant Sessions Judge may pass any sentence authorized by law except a sentence of death or of imprisonment for life or of imprisonment for a term exceeding ten years.

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