Pratap Singh Vs. The State of Vindhya
Pradesh (Now Madhya Pradesh)  INSC 204 (18 November 1960)
18/11/1960 IMAM, SYED JAFFER IMAM, SYED
JAFFER KAPUR, J.L.
GUPTA, K.C. DAS DAYAL, RAGHUBAR AYYANGAR, N.
CITATION: 1961 AIR 586 1961 SCR (2) 509
Criminal Procedure-Right of Appeal-Procedure
when appellant in jail-If discriminatory-Finality of order on appeal-Code of
Criminal Procedure 1898 (V of 1898) ss. 420, 421, 430Constitution of India Art.
The appellant filed an appeal while he was in
jail which was summarily dismissed on merits. Thereafter lie filed a Memorandum
of Appeal through a pleader which was rejected on the ground that it was not
maintainable owing to his appeal from jail under S. 420 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure having been dismissed earlier. His review petition before the
judicial Commissioner was also dismissed but his prayer for certificate under
Art. 132(1) was granted.
The question was whether S. 421 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure which enables a court to dismiss an appeal filed by a
convicted person, while he was in jail, without hearing him offended against
Art. 14 of the Constitution.
Held, that the Code of Criminal Procedure in
giving the right of appeal in Ch. XXXI based it on a classification which was
rational and reasonably connected with the object the Legislature had in view
in enacting that chapter. The position of a convicted person in jail, and
therefore unable to present an appeal either in person or through a pleader,
was entirely different and distinct from that of a convicted person who was
able to do so. The Proviso to s. 421 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in no
way offends against the provisions of Art. 14 of the Constitution.
Held, also, that a second appeal from the same
judgment of conviction presented through a pleader was not maintainable because
the previous order dismissing the first appeal under S. 420 presented from jail
was lawful and final under S. 430 of the Code.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION. Criminal
Appeal No. 106 of 1956.
Appeal from the Judgment and Order dated the
7th April, 1956, of the former Judicial Commissioner's 65 510 Court, Vindhya
Pradesh, Rewa in Misc. Crl. Application No. 70 of 1956.
A. D. Mathur for the Appellant.
B. K. B. Naidu and I. N. Shroff for the
1960. November 18. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by IMAM, J.-The Judicial Commissioner of Vindhya Pradesh granted
a certificate under Art. 132(1) of the Constitution of India as in his opinion
the case involved a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the
Constitution. Hence the present appeal.
The appellant was convicted under s. 307,
Indian Penal Code and s. 19(f) of the Indian Arms Act by the Sessions Judge of
Chatarpur. He was sentenced to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment under s. 307,
Indian Penal Code and to 3 years' rigorous imprisonment under s. 19(f) of the
Indian Arms Act.
He filed an appeal while he was in jail which
was summarily dismissed on merits on October 28, 1955. Thereafter, on October
31, 1955, he filed a Memorandum of Appeal through a pleader which was rejected
on November 1, 1955, on the ground that it was not maintainable owing to his
appeal from jail under s. 420 of the Code of Criminal Procedure having been
dismissed on October 28, 1955.
Thereafter, he filed a petition before the
Judicial Commissioner that the order dated October 28, 1955, dismissing his
appeal from jail should be reviewed and his appeal should be reheard on merits.
This petition was also dismissed by the Judicial Commissioner. The appellant
had prayed for a certificate under Arts. 132 and 134(c) of the Constitution.
The Judicial Commissioner was of the opinion that no ground had been
established for grant of a certificate under Art. 134(c) but a certificate should
issue under Art. 132(1).
The only question for determination in this
appeal is whether the case involves any substantial question of law as to the
interpretation of the Constitution. It 511 had been urged before the Judicial
Commissioner that s. 421 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which enabled a
court to dismiss an appeal filed by a convicted person, while he was in jail,
without hearing him offended against Art. 14 of the Constitution as it
discriminated between him and a convicted person who presented his appeal
either in person or through a pleader.
Before we consider whether s. 421 of the Code
offends against the provisions of Art. 14 of the Constitution it is desirable
to set out shortly the scheme of appeals under Chapter XXXI of the Code of Criminal
Procedure before its amendment which came into force in 1956. Section 404
expressly states that no appeal shall lie from any judgment or order of a
criminal court except as provided for by the Code or by any other law for the
time being in force. This provision is in accordance with the general principle
that no appeal lies as a matter of right unless the right of appeal is
conferred by law. There are various provisions in Chapter XXXI providing for an
appeal from various orders and sentences passed by the Criminal courts. Section
410 enables any person convicted at a trial held by a Sessions Judge or an
Additional Sessions Judge to appeal to the High Court. The Court of Judicial
Commissioner, Vindhya Pradesh, was a High Court for the purposes of the Code.
The appeal of the appellant from jail against his conviction and sentence by
the Sessions Judge therefore lay to the Court of the Judicial Commissioner.
Under s. 418 an appeal may lie on a matter of fact as well as a matter of law,
except where the trial was by jury, in which case, the appeal would lie only on
a matter of law, except in a case where a person had been sentenced to death,
his appeal would lie on a matter of fact as well as a matter of law although he
was tried by a jury. The section also enables any other person convicted at the
same trial with a person so sentenced to appeal on a matter of fact as well as
a matter of law. Section 419 enjoins that every appeal shall be made in the
form of a petition in writing presented by the appellant or his pleader and
every such 512 petition shall, unless the court to which it is presented
otherwise directs, be accompanied by a copy of the judgment or order appealed
against and in cases tried by jury a copy of the heads of the charge recorded
under S. 367. Section 420 enables a person who is in jail to present his
petition of appeal and the copies accompanying the same to the
Officer-In-charge of the jail who shall thereupon forward such petition or copy
to the proper Appellate Court. Under s. 421 on receiving the petition and copy
under s. 419 or s.
420 the Appellate Court shall peruse the same
and if it considers that there are no sufficient grounds for interfering, it
may dismiss the appeal summarily. There is a proviso to this section which
states that no appeal presented under s. 419 shall be dismissed unless the
appellant or his pleader has had a reasonable opportunity of being heard in
support of the same. The only other section for the purpose of this appeal, to
which reference need be made, is s. 430 which states that judgments and orders
passed by an Appellate Court upon appeal shall be final, except in the cases
provided for in s. 417 and Chapter XXXII.
It will be seen from these provisions of the
Code that a convicted person, in cases where an appeal is provided for by the
Code, may file a petition of appeal in writing presented by him or his pleader
and that if he is in jail he may file his petition of appeal through the jail
authorities who are obliged to forward the petition to the Appellate Court
concerned. Whether an appeal is filed under s. 419 or under s. 420 of the Code,
the Appellate Court has been expressly authorized, after perusing the petition
of appeal and copies of the judgment or charge to the jury, if it considers
that there is no sufficient ground for interference, to dismiss the appeal
summarily. In the present case, the appellant was in jail and he presented his
petition of appeal to the Court of the Judicial Commissioner under s. 420
through the jail authorities. It was summarily dismissed on merits on October
28, 1955. If that order was lawfully made the decision of the Appellate Court
was final under s. 430 of the Code. Consequently, the appeal presented by 513
the appellant through his pleader on October 31, 1955, was patently not
We come now to the question whether s. 421
offends against the provisions of Art. 14 of the Constitution which states that
the State shall not deny to 1 any person equality before the law or the equal
protection of the laws within the territory of India. This Court has decided in
many cases what are the matters to be considered in order to determine whether
a particular piece of legislation is discriminatory and consequently in
contravention of the provisions of Art. 14. It is unnecessary to refer to them.
The object of Chapter XXXI of the Code of
Criminal Procedure was to make provisions for appeals against conviction in
certain cases. Where no appeal is provided by this Chapter no further question
arises because no one can claim that he has a right to appeal from any decision
of a criminal court.
Every person convicted at a trial held by a
Sessions Judge or an Additional Sessions Judge has been given the right to
appeal to the High Court by virtue of the provisions of s. 410 of the Code. The
right to appeal having been so given the Code provided the manner in which such
appeal should be presented which is to be found in ss. 419 and 420 of the Code.
These two sections contemplate various possibilities (1) that a convicted person
who is not in jail presents his petition of appeal in person; (2) that a
convicted person though unable to present his petition of appeal personally
owing to various reasons, including his being in jail, can present it through
his pleader and (3) where the convicted person is in jail and thus unable to
present his petition in person and is unable to engage a pleader to present
his, petition of appeal, can present it through the jail authorities. Where the
convicted person presents his appeal in person or through a pleader under s.
421 his appeal shall not be dismissed summarily unless he or his pleader is
given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in support of his petition. No
such consideration arises in the case of a convicted person who is unable to
present his petition in person or through a pleader. There is a rational basis
for 514 making the classification mentioned above which has a reasonable
connection with the object of the legislation providing for appeals under
Chapter XXXI. Under s. 410 there is no discrimination as any person convicted
at a trial held by a Sessions Judge or an Additional Sessions Judge may appeal
to the High Court. Where the convicted person is able to present his petition
of appeal in person his position is entirely different from a person who is
unable to do so because he is in jail. Similarly, a convicted person whether in
jail or not who can present his petition through a pleader is in a different
position from a convicted person who is in jail and is unable to present his
petition through a pleader. The Code intended in the case of a convicted person
who presents his petition of appeal while in jail that his petition and the
judgment of the court which convicted him must be considered by the Appellate
Court before it is summarily dismissed, otherwise the right of appeal conferred
on such a person under s. 410 would be meaningless. In the case of such a
person no question could arise of his being heard in person because he has not
presented the appeal in person nor could there be any question of his pleader
being heard because no pleader had been engaged by him to present the appeal.
Different considerations arise in the case of a convicted person who presents
his petition of appeal in person or through a pleader in which case he or his
pleader must be heard before the appeal is summarily dismissed. There is,
therefore, a rational basis for making the classification into three categories
which has a reasonable connection with the object of the Code. It could not
therefore be said that the proviso to s' 421 offends against the provisions of
Art. 14 of the Constitution.
It was, however, contended that although an
appeal filed under s. 420 may have been dismissed summarily a subsequent appeal
filed through a pleader ought to have been heard and the Judicial Commissioner
erred in holding that the appeal did not lie. The appeal could not have been
summarily rejected without the pleader having been 515 heard. From that point
of view the provisions of s. 421 had not been complied with. It is sufficient
to say that if the order dated October 28, 1955, dismissing the appellant's
appeal under s. 420 was lawful, a second appeal from the same judgment of
conviction presented through a pleader was not maintainable because the
previous order of the High Court dismissing the appeal was final under s. 430
of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Certain cases were relied upon to which
reference has been made by the Judicial Commissioner. Those cases can be
distinguished from the present case. In none of them was it decided that where
an order dismissing the appeal is lawful a subsequent appeal filed through a
pleader was maintainable. In our opinion, there is no substance in this point,
once it is held that the order dated October 28, 1955, was a lawful order
which, we think, it was, as in our opinion the proviso to s. 421 in no way
offends against the provisions of Art. 14 of the Constitution. The appeal is