Powers and Duties of Appellate Court

Appellate Court

What are the powers and duties of appellate court?

An appellate court wherein an appeal of first instance lies having this prominent stature of entertaining such an appeal must have certain powers and duties which stands in consonance to its position. The same have been provided under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 in case of civil cases. The power of an appellate court ranges from powers such as power to decide a case finally which can be seemed as an obvious power. Other powers such as power to remand, power to frame issues and refer them for trail, power to take additional evidence and power to modify a decree are few such powers which the appellate court adheres while entertaining an appeal.

Dealing with its power and foremost power of deciding a case finally, it is a general rule under section 107(1) (a) of the Code that evidence on record is sufficient for the appellate court to pronounce the judgement and it is also held that a case should be disposed of on the evidence on record and should not be remanded on fresh evidence, except in rare cases.[1]

The power to remand is dealt with under section 107(b) which states in general that the appellate court can send back such case to the lower court to retry or reopen such case. But there must be some conditions precedent to be met with so that such a remand can be made. Firstly, the suit must have been disposed of by the trial court that means a lower court on a preliminary point. Secondly, the decree under appeal must have been reversed and thirdly, any other reason must exist, which has been widened its horizon by virtue of rule XXIII which says that the appellate court can remand a case even when lower court has disposed off the case otherwise than on a preliminary point and wherein the remand is considered of paramount importance for serving the interests of justice.

The third power, that is the power to frame issues and refer them to trial is considered very important in the cases where the lower court has done abstinence in performing its functions of framing any issue or trying any issue or determining any question of fact which is essential to be determined for the suit to be disposed off on merits. In all these situations the appellate court has the power to frame issues for the lower court and may even while referring these for trail, fix any time limit as well. It is provided under section 107(1) (c).

Fourthly, it is the power of an appellate court to take additional evidence. Otherwise, what we call it a general rule is that the appellate court has to decide such appeal on the evidence given by parties at the lower courts. But this exception as provided under Section 107(1) (d) has three conditions which are to be fulfilled by the parties producing such additional evidence in the appellate court which are, firstly, that the person’s seeking such an admission of additional evidence should be able to establish the reason as to why he could not produce it at first instance. Other condition is that the party affected by the admission of additional evidence should have an opportunity to rebut such additional evidence. Thirdly, the additional evidence must be relevant for determination of the issue.[2]

The last important power of an appellate court is the power to modify a decree. This power is a genuine yet discretionary power. It is quite apparent that in case wherein the decision is reversed in an appeal, the decree for the same reversed decision is passed by the appellate court. The provisions and procedure thereof of the same are dealt with under Rule XXXIII. The jurisprudential approach behind this provision is to enable rather empower appellate court to take the entire matter into its hand and imparts justice completely.

Where there exists power, it comes with responsibilities. There are also some duties conferred upon the appellate court. Since as we can analyse from the consent of the Code that the powers of the appellate court are not immune from the subject of scrutiny or in simple words, absolute. The duties which ranges from duty to decide the appeal fully to duty to not to interfere with a decree for technical errors along with duty to reappreciate evidence and duty to record reasons keeps a check on control of powers of appellate court.

Dealing with the duty to decide appeal finally, it is quite apparent that since the court has taken appeal to be heard and decided, the court has to give its judgement based on such appeal and the essential of making a judgment is application of judicial mind of a judge. Secondly the contents of section 99 provides that “to prevent from overcoming the ends of justice, and from operating as means of circuitry of litigation”, a decree which is otherwise correct and based on merits should not be upset for technical reasons therefore it is the duty of the appellate court not to interfere with a decree for technical errors.

The duty to reappreciate evidence by the appellate court provides that when an appellate court hears an appeal bearing the same powers as that of the court of original jurisdiction along with some additional power, the court after taking due care and caution can reappreciate those evidences as it has been held in a case where a finding of a fact has been arrived at by the trial court by mainly appreciating oral evidence, it should not be lightly disturbed unless the approach of the trial court in appraisal of evidence is materially erroneous, contrary to well established principles or perverse.[3]

Lastly one of the important duties of an appellate court is the duty to record reasons. All other appellate courts other than a High Court have duty to record reason for its decision while it is even appreciable to do so. While Rule XXXI provides that there must be reasons in support of a judgement of an appellate court and such judgement, supported by reasons must be finally determining and concluding arriving at the findings of the court. Henceforth, all these above mentioned points and findings are the powers and duties of the appellate court which are endowed upon them for the paramount reason of meeting the interests of justice.


[1] Kausalya Devi Bogra v. Land Acquisition Officer (1984) 2 SCC 324

[2] N. Kamalam V. Ayyasamy (2001) 7 SCC 503

[3] Jagdish Singh v. Madhuri Devi (2008) 10 SCC 497

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