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Report No. 14

39. Criminal Revisions and Inherent Powers

1. Courts of revision and their powers.-

The power of revising the orders of inferior criminal courts has been conferred by the Code of Criminal Procedure concurrently upon the High Court, the sessions judges, district magistrates and sub-divisional magistrates specially empowered by the State Government in that behalf. Under section 435 of the Code, these courts are competent to call for and examine the record of any proceeding before any inferior criminal court within their jurisdiction for the purpose of satisfying themselves as to the correctness, legality or propriety of any finding, sentence or order and the regularity of any proceeding before such inferior court.

The powers of sub-divisional magistrates specially empowered, district magistrates and sessions judges are, however, limited. A sub-divisional magistrate cannot pass any order in revision if he finds any illegality, impropriety or irregularity; he can only forward the record with his remarks to the district magistrate. The powers of the district magistrate and of the sessions judge to pass final orders in exercise of their provisional jurisdiction are limited to cases of erroneous dismissals of complaints or the discharge of persons accused of an offence or when, in cases exclusively triable by a court of session, an accused person has been improperly discharged by the committal court.

In these cases, they have the power to order further inquiry or direct the commitment of the accused person to the sessions court. In other cases of incorrectness, illegality, impropriety or irregularity, the district magistrate or the sessions judge is not empowered to pass any final order. He can only report the case with his recommendations to the High Court for orders.

2. Revisional jurisdiction of the High Court.-

The revisional jurisdiction of the High Court is of the widest compass. It may, in exercise of this jurisdiction, invoke any of the powers conferred on a court of appeal and may even enhance the sentence. As observed in a case,1 "there is no form of judicial, injustice which this court if need be cannot reach". However, though wide, the power of revision is a discretionary power to be exercised according to the exigencies of each case.

Having regard to the provisions of section 537 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it is clear that the Court will not ordinarily interfere in revision unless the impugned order has occasioned a failure of justice. In addition to its powers of revision under the Code, the High Court has also the constitutional right of superintendence over all courts including courts exercising criminal jurisdiction. The High Courts of Bihar, Bombay, Calcutta, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Punjab and West Bengal have also revisional jurisdiction under their Letters Patent.

1. Lekhraj Ram v. Deb Pershad, 12 CWN 678 (680).

3. Pendency of criminal revisions in the High Courts.-

We have indicated elsewhere that criminal revisions, like criminal appeals, should ordinarily be disposed of within six months from the date of their institution in the High Courts. The Tables below, however, indicate that in some of the High Courts these revisions have been pending for over a year and in some cases for over two years.

Table A

Pendency of Criminal Revisions as on 1st January, 1957

Name of the State

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

Total

Remarks

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Andhra Pradesh (A)

Nil

48

1

66

425

540

(A) Does not include the pendency from the Telengana region

Assam

Nil

Nil

Nil

3

60

63

Bihar

Nil

Nil

6

23

301

330

(B) Includes the pendency in the Nagpur and Rajkot Benches.

Bombay (B)

Nil

Nil

Nil

17

275

292

(C)Includes the pendency in the Nagpur and Rajkot Benches.

Kerala

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

71

71

Madhya Pradesh

Nil

Nil

1

15

257

273

Madras

Nil

Nil

Nil

7

208

215

Mysore(C)

Nil

Nil

5

12

139

156

Orissa

Nil

Nil

Nil

5

117

122

Punjab

Nil

Nil

2

20

384

406

Rajasthan

1

Nil

2

15

161

179

Uttar Pradesh

Nil

2

23

877

1129

2031

West Bengal

Nil

Nil

2

47

630

679

Note. The figures furnished in the above Table were supplied to us by the respective High Courts.

Table B

Comparative Statement Showing The Institution#, Disposal and Pendency of Criminal Revision Petitions in The High Courts of The States In The Years 194, 1955 and 1956

1954

1955

1956

Name of the State

Pending at the beginning of the year

Institution

Disposed of

Pending at the beginning of the year

Institution

Disposed of

Pending at the close of the year

Institution

Disposed of

Pending at the close of the year

Remarks

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Andhra Pradesh*

111

347

308

150

570

440

280

550

290

829

Note.-The Pendency at the close of the year 1956 includes Criminal Revision transfer on account of reorgnisation of States and hence the figure shown in state are not equal to what deducting the figures given in Column Nos. 8 and 9 of the statement.

Assam

50

157

149

58

156

159

55

179

171

63

Bihar

713

1401

1732

382

1374

1499

257

1328

1255

330

Bombay*

151

1521

1475

197

1573

1646

124

1590

1568

311

Kerala (Travancore-Cochin)

31

176

218

39

231

222

48

274

251

71

Madhya Pradesh

267

742

735

274

704

723

485

657

539

603

Madras

564

1055

1335

105

1010

971

204

1168

1157

215

Mysore

81

349

374

56

435

339

152

444

471

156

(2) The figures shown in columns 8 to 11 against the State of Madhya Pradesh include the proceedings instituted and disposed of in the Gwaliour and Indore Benches.

Orissa

117

424

449

92

361

334

119

283

280

122

Punjab

286

1611

1569

328

1468

1491

305

1697

1596

406

Rajasthan

366

439

470

335

424

486

273

435

529

179

(3) The figures shown against Kerala and Punjab in column Nos. 9 to 11 indicates the position after reorganisation of the State.

Uttar Pradesh

2005

2165

2107

2063

2354

2549

1868

2094

1931

2031

West Bengal

931

1505

1699

437

1745

1609

573

1723

1617

679

(4) The figures shown against Kerala and Punjab in column Nos. 9 to 11 indicates the position after reorganisation of the State.
* The figures shown against these States do not include institution of that States, however, the figures furnished in column No. 11 show the pendency including that received consequent upon reorganisation. The figures furnished in this Table were supplied to us by the respective High Courts.

4. Consequent delays in lower courts.-

It has to be remembered that a number of these revisions would be against interlocutory orders passed in proceedings pending in the lower courts and delays in their disposal by the High Court would add to the time taken for the final disposal of the proceedings in the courts below. The Tables also show that the disposals in a number of High Courts are not able to keep pace with institutions.

5. Enhanced powers of single judge.-

In dealing with criminal appeals, we have referred to the divergent practices which prevail in the High Courts in regard to their hearing. Similar divergent practices are also to be found in the hearing of criminal revisions. Generally speaking, the disposal of criminal revisions involves much less responsible work than in the hearing of criminal appeals. The considerations which we outlined in support of the view that criminal appeals should, except in cases of sentences of death and imprisonment for life, be heard by a single judge of the High Court apply with greater force to criminal revisions. The adoption of this practice should help in a substantial measure to relieve the congestion in this type of work in a number of High Courts.

6. Increasing jurisdiction of sessions judges.-

A further measure which will relieve congestion in this category of work needs consideration. Could some of the revisional powers now being exercised by the High Courts be entrusted to sessions judges? The Judicial Reforms Committee of Uttar Pradesh recommended1 that sessions judges should be given full powers to hear and determine all criminal revisions except revisions against orders of acquittal and revisions for enhancement of sentences.

1. Report, 1950-51, p. 63.

The evidence before us generally favoured the grant of revisional jurisdiction to this extent to the sessions judge. There was general agreement that in most petty matters a party applying for revision labours under a disadvantage in that he has to take the matter to the High Court. The view was also expressed that there was no reason why sessions judges who are entrusted with the trial of very important cases and are competent to impose even the penalty of death should not be empowered to deal with minor matters in revision and be required to submit them to the High Court for its final orders. It is anomalous that a sessions judge should be able to deal with and dispose finally an appeal from a sentence passed by a first class magistrate but that he should not be competent to revise an order passed by a third class magistrate.

We are, therefore, of the view that sessions judges may well be invested with powers to pass final orders in revision in all matters other than petitions against orders of acquittal and for enhancement of sentences.



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