Report No. 79
II. Need for Right of Appeal
4.7. Appeal on facts.-
This, then, is a brief description of the existing scheme of civil appeals. There is, no doubt, a school of thought, according to which there should be finality of the decisions of the trial court in regard to findings of fact. According to this school, appeals on question of fact serve no useful purpose, nor do they justify the expense, delay, anxiety and inconvenience which the right of such appeal involves. We do not, however, consider it advisable to do away completely with the right of one appeal on questions of fact.
We have already pointed out1 that the appellate courts in India are streamlined and the causes of delay cannot be sought in their structure. A hierarchy of courts and a procedure of appeals from one court to the other is inevitable in any modern system. No organised system of administration of justice permits the findings of the trial court to carry a stamp of finality. The fact that the findings are liable to be assailed in appeal, constitutes in a large number of cases a guarantee against arbitrariness, and by itself produces judicial constraint. It is also essential that so far as questions of law are concerned, there should be a uniformity of decision in a State.
The procedural law in this respect, in our view, has considerable merit and, in our opinion, it would be inadvisable to deprive a litigant of the right of first appeal on questions of fact-a right which has been enjoyed by him for a long time. The fact that we have not so far been able to devise effective means for prompt and efficient disposal of appeals is, in our opinion, no reason for short-circuiting the procedure on a cardinal aspect.
1. Para. 1.29, supra.
4.8. Evershed Committee's view.-
We may also note that in England, the Committee on Supreme Court Practice and Procedure expressed itself thus on this subject1:
"The legal system of every civilised country recognises that judges are fallible and provides machinery for appeal in some form or another. The right of appeal is too ingrained in our legal system to be capable of being uprooted in toto. The problem must be approached on the basis that it would be palpably wrong to leave the defeated litigant entirely without remedy even in those cases where the judgment against him is demonstrably wrong or to deny him altogether the chance of appeal from a decision which leaves him smarting under a sense of injustice."
We are in substantial agreement with the above observations. Appeal is an essential part of the gamut of our judicial system and should continue to be so.
1. Committee on Suprem Court Practice and Procedure in England, (1953), p. 153, para. 473.
4.9. Need to retain right of appeal.-
Although we are against conferring a right of multiple appeals at various stages of the same litigation, we are also, as already mentioned,1 of the opinion that the right of appeal cannot be dispensed with altogether. The present scheme of conferring one right of appeal against the judgment of the trial court on questions of fact and law, and a right of second appeal on a substantial question of law (in those cases where the judgment on first appeal was of a court subordinate to the High Court) meets the requirements of the situation. So far as appeals to the Supreme Court are concerned, the matter is governed by the provisions of the Constitution2 and calls for no comment.
1. Para. 4.8, supra.
2. Paras. 4.5 and 4.6, supra.