In certain criminal cases, no appeals are allowed by the Code of Criminal Procedure and there are certain exceptions to this rule as well. The question that last remains is whether any remedy is still available in such cases before the aggrieved party. The answer shall be in affirmative but, however, the remedy is not available under Cr.P.C but under the Constitution.
Everyone has a right to be heard before any order is made or any decree is passed against him. Similarly, everyone also has a right to appeal against such order or decree if the person believes that he was heard properly or if the deciding authority ignored material facts or evidence while determining the issues. However, to facilitate justice and prevent malicious or meritless prosecution, the Code of Criminal Procedure provides situations where no appeal lies from the order or judgment of a court in criminal cases.
The reasoning for No Appeal
The rationale for not allowing criminal appeal is threefold;
Firstly, a comparative study of crime rates in the year 2015 and 2016 carried out by the National Crime Records Bureau shows that there has been an increase of 0.9% in the commission of offences under the Indian Penal Code 1860 and an increase of 5.4% in the commission of offences under the Special and Local Laws of the State. Further, the records also depict that crimes have proliferated at an average rate of 2.6% a year (Including IPC and Special Laws).
Secondly, the survey conducted by the Centre for Death Penalty, New Delhi provides that the median duration of trial for sexual offences is 1.5 years, for offences related to abduction it is 3 years and it ranges to 5 years and 8 years for murder and dacoity with murder respectively. Moreover, much time also elapses during the pendency of the sentence, if it is a death penalty, to be confirmed by the High Court.
Thirdly, the impact of incarceration on the family of the accused or convict adds more victims to the crime and has an irreparable socio-economic implications. This study is, hence, concerned with the problem mentioned hereinbefore and the issues are enumerated further.
Therefore, if there is no end to appeal, the case continues to be tried again and again and does not assist the courts to dispose of the pending cases but rather piles up more cases. Hence, to ensure that cases which do not deserve to be appealed are not unnecessarily taken up before superior courts, the Code has certain specific situations where appeals are not allowed in criminal cases.
The Process of Trial in the First Court
Section 375 and 376 of the Cr.P.C deal with cases where the appeal is not allowed in a criminal proceeding. To understand the basis of appeal, a brief introduction to the trial procedure is inevitable. After the investigation is complete, the Charge-Sheet or Final Report is submitted to the Judicial Magistrate First Class or Metropolitan Magistrate as the case may be. The Magistrate decides whether the offence is triable by him or it should be transferred (committed) to the Court of Session.
The trial starts with the Prosecutor giving his opening statement where he explains the charges against the accused and the evidence to be used by him against the accused. Then the defence counsel requests the court to discharge the accused if there is not sufficient prima facie evidence against the accused. If the person is not discharged as aforementioned, the court frames charges as suggested by the Prosecutor against the accused and the accused is asked whether s/he pleads guilty of the said charges or not.
If the accused pleads guilty, s/he can be convicted by the court on this basis and proceed with the sentence. However, if the accused pleads not guilty, the court can proceed with the trial and examination of witnesses. After the trial is completed, the court passes a sentence according to the evidence brought before it. If the parties are not satisfied with the judgment, they have the right to appeal to superior courts.
No Appeal When Accused Pleads Guilty
Section 375 of the Code states that no appeal lies against orders of conviction if the conviction is made after the accused pleaded guilty of the offence charged with. The sentence can be passed by the Magistrate or Court of Session or the High Court after hearing the guilty plea of the accused. The only condition precedent to the application of this section is that the accused must plead guilty of the offences he has been charged with.
In Barendra Ghosh v. Emperor, the accused/appellant was convicted for murder by the trial court and sentenced to death on the basis of the guilty plea of one of the accused persons. However, the High Court here observed that the guilty plea to disallow an appeal under Section 375 must be voluntarily made and the court must be satisfied that the accused understands the consequences and effect of such plea.
Thus, any guilty plea does not act as a bar to appeal but the plea must be voluntary, with the knowledge that the plea will result in a conviction and with the willingness to accept the punishment awarded by the court. The exception to this rule of no appeal is provided in Section 375 (b).
The provision states that appeal can be allowed in cases where the accused pleads guilty if the appeal relates to the extent or legality of the sentence imposed by the court. Under Section 29 of the Cr.P.C, the Magistrate is empowered to pass a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding three years while Chief Judicial Magistrate can pass a sentence not exceeding seven years. If the authority is transgressed, it amounts to illegality in sentencing and appeal can be allowed even if the accused pleaded guilty.
Moreover, if after pleading guilty, the accused feels that the sentence passed by the trial court or any other court of the first instance is too harsh, an appeal can be allowed in such circumstances as well to allow the accused to argue on the extent of the sentence, i.e. imprisonment or/and fine.
No Appeal in Petty Cases
According to Section 376 of the Code, an appeal cannot be taken from a criminal case that is considered petty in the eyes of law as prescribed under Clauses ‘a’ to ‘d’ of Section 376. This provision is applicable only for appeal against an order of conviction by the accused and not against an order of acquittal by the government.
The following cases are considered to be petty under Section 376:
- Where the case is taken on appeal to the High court and the High Court, after due consideration, passes a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine of INR 1000/- or both.
- Where the case is tried by a Metropolitan Magistrate or Court of Session and the court after hearing evidence for both the sides convict the accused and pass a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding three months or fine not more than INR 200/- or both.
- Where an offence is exclusively triable by a Judicial Magistrate First Class and the court after hearing both the sides and evidence for both sides passes a sentence of fine not exceeding INR 100/- only.
- Where the case is triable by the Magistrate and is required to be tried summarily under Section 260 of the Code, and after the trial, the Magistrate passes a sentence of only fine not exceeding INR 200/-
- Where the imprisonment is of nature as mentioned above and is also accompanied by an order for payment of security for maintaining peace as required under Section 105 of the Cr.P.C. or a direction for imprisonment in default of payment of fine as levied by the appropriate court.
- Where the court has passed a sentence including multiple fines if the total amount of the fines so imposed does not exceed the amount stated above.
An appeal under Section 376 cannot be barred if the offence so punished as aforementioned is combined with some other offence or any other punishment which is not stated in this provision.
It has already been established that in certain criminal cases, appeals are not allowed by the Code of Criminal Procedure and there are certain exceptions to this rule as well. The question that last remains is whether any remedy is still available in such cases before the aggrieved party. The answer shall be in affirmative but, however, the remedy is not available under Cr.P.C but under the Constitution.
Any person aggrieved of any such sentence may approach the High Court under Article 226 through appropriate writ petition for violation of a legal right or may appeal to the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution if the court grants leave to appeal.
- V. Kelkar, Lectures on Criminal Procedure, (6th ed. 2017).
- N. Chandrashekaran Pillai, R.V. Kelkar’s Criminal Procedure, (6th ed. 2018).
- K. Mukherjee, Law of Criminal Appeals, Revisions, References With Model Forms, (2nd ed. 2004).
- D. Basu, Commentary on the Constitution of India, Vol. IV (9th ed. 2007).
 National Crime Records Bureau, Crime in India 2016: Statistics, (September 5, 2019, 11:40 PM), available at http://ncrb.nic.in/.
 Centre for Death Penalty, Death Penalty India Report, Vol. 1, 17 (2015).
 Barendra Ghosh v. Emperor, AIR 1924 Cal 257