What is the difference between legal terms Appeal and Revision?

What is the difference between legal terms Appeal and Revision?

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Question: What is the difference between legal terms Appeal and Revision?

Answer: Though “appeal” and “revision” appear to be similar legal terms, there are certain subtle differences between them. The distinction between an appeal and a revision is a real one.

Appeal: There is no definition of the word “appeal” in any statute. It can be defined as the judicial examination by a higher Court of a decision of an inferior Court. It is a legal proceeding by which a case is brought before a higher court for review of the decision of a lower court. Appeal is a process of re-examination by a higher court of the judgment, or the order or the decision made by a lower court in a suit or in a case. Appeal is the right of entering a superior court and invoking its aid and interposition to redress the error of the court below. It is a proceeding taken before a superior court for reversing or modifying the decision of an inferior court on ground of error.

Revision: Revision is the act of examining again in order to remove  any defect or grant relief against irregular or improper exercise or non-exercise of jurisdiction by a lower court. Revision is like re-working and re-writing. Revision means the action of revising, especially critical or careful examination or perusal with a view to correcting or improving.

In Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.), the provisions relating to appeal are contained in Sections 372 to 394, while provisions relating to revision are contained in Sections 397 to 405.

In Civil Procedure Code (CPC), the provisions relating to appeal are contained in Sections 96 to 112, while provisions relating to revision are contained in Section 115.

Generally speaking, there are following major differences between the legal terms “appeal” and “revision” (though the actual difference between these terms will depend upon the provisions of the law in which they are contained, such as in Criminal Procedure Code or in Civil Procedure Code or in the other relevant laws):

  • Appeal is generally a legal right of a party, but revision depends on the discretion of the Court, due to which it cannot be claimed as a matter of right. In particular, in criminal cases, at least one appeal is a substantive right conferred on accused by the statute (and it is also considered a part of the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution), while the revision power is discretionary and is not a matter of right.
  • In case of appeal, the appellant is heard by the court. But, it is not necessary in the case of a revision and the person filing the revision may not be formally heard.
  • Under the Civil Procedure Code, an appeal lies to a superior court (which may not necessary be a High Court), while a revision application lies only to the High Court (under Section 115 of the Code).
  • Under the Criminal Procedure Code, the appeal lies to a superior court (which may be any superior court as laid down in the relevant provisions), but the revision lies only to the High Court or the Sessions Court (Section 399 of Cr.P.C.).
  • Appeal is required to be filed by a party to the proceedings, but revision can also be exercised suo motu by the higher court having the power of revision.
  • Generally, revision is exercised against those orders which are not appealable.
  • Generally, appeal involves rehearing on question of law as well as on facts of the case, whereas revision generally involves hearing only the question of law and this is not considered a rehearing.
  • An appeal is considered to be a continuation of the original proceeding whereas revision is not the continuation of the original proceeding.

It is pertinent to point out that in the case of Hari Shanker v. Rao Girdhari Lal Chowdhury, AIR 1963 SC 698 : 1962 Supp (1) SCR 933, the Supreme Court highlighted the distinction between appeal and revision as under:

“The distinction between an appeal and a revision is a real one. A right of appeal carries with it a right of rehearing on law as well as fact, unless the statute conferring the right of appeal limits the rehearing in some way as, we find, has been done in second appeals arising under the Code of Civil Procedure. The power to hear a revision is generally given to a superior court so that it may satisfy itself that a particular case has been decided according to law.”

Likewise, in Lachhman Dass v. Santokh Singh, (1995) 4 SCC 201, the Supreme Court held as under:

“…an appeal is a continuation of a suit or proceedings wherein the entire proceedings are again left open for consideration by the appellate authorities which has the power to review the entire evidence subject, of course, to the prescribed statutory limitations. But in the case of revision whatever powers the revisional authority may have, it has no power to reassess and reappreciate the evidence unless the statute expressly confers on it that power. That limitation is implicit in the concept of revision.”

In the case of State of Kerala v. K.M. Charia Abdullah & Co., (1965) 1 SCR 601, 604 : AIR 1965 SC 1585, the Supreme Court observed as under:

“When the legislature confers a right of appeal in one case and a discretionary remedy of revision in another, it must be deemed to have created two jurisdictions different in scope and content. When it introduced the familiar concepts of appeal and revision, it is also reasonable to assume that the well-known distinction between these two jurisdictions was also accepted by the legislature. There is an essential distinction between an appeal and a revision. The distinction is based on differences implicit in the said two expressions. An appeal is a continuation of the proceedings; in effect the entire proceedings are before the Appellate Authority and it has power to review the evidence subject to the statutory limitations prescribed. But in the case of a revision, whatever powers the revisional authority may or may not have, it has not the power to review the evidence unless the statute expressly confers on it that power. That limitation is implicit in the concept of revision.”

In Associated Cement Co. Ltd. v. Keshvanand, (1998) 1 SCC 687 : AIR 1998 SC 596 : (1998) 91 Comp Cas 361 : 1998 Cri LJ 856, the Supreme Court held as under:

“It appears that the learned Single Judge has equated appellate powers with revisional powers, and that the core difference between an appeal and a revision has been overlooked. It is trite legal position that appellate jurisdiction is coextensive with original court’s jurisdiction as for appraisal and appreciation of evidence and reaching findings on facts and appellate court is free to reach its own conclusion on evidence untrammelled by any finding entered by the trial court. Revisional powers on the other hand belong to supervisory jurisdiction of a superior court. While exercising revisional powers the court has to confine to the legality and propriety of the findings and also whether the subordinate court has kept itself within the bounds of its jurisdiction including the question whether the court has failed to exercise the jurisdiction vested in it. Though the difference between the two jurisdictions is subtle, it is quite real and has now become well recognised in legal provinces.”

Similarly, in the case of Neta Ram v. Jiwan Lal, AIR 1963 SC 499 : 1962 Supp (2) SCR 623, it was observed that the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court does not include the power to reverse concurrent findings, without showing how those findings are erroneous.

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