Reference and Revision

reference and revision

The power of revision to victims of crime gives a supervisory jurisdiction to superior court. Chapter 30 – Section 395 to Section 405 of Criminal Procedure Code,1973 deals with reference and revision. Justice is given out fairly and correctly without negligence and irregularities in procedures of law. Both appeal and revision under the Criminal Procedure Code are review procedures. They have the power to execute or suspend a sentence. The revision power do not create any right to the litigant but it only conserve the power of High Court to do that justice in accordance with the law[i]. They may even have power to order an inquiry which is subject to certain limitations[ii].

  • The correctness of the lower court
  • the regularity of proceedings in the court
  • power of revision cannot be uses in interlocutory orders
  • The argument of the person applying for revision should be considered during the hearing even though they are too brief[iii].

Section 395 to 405 of Criminal Procedure Code,1973

Section 395 : Reference to the High Court

1. This section defines reference as in when a case is pending and it involves a question pertaining to any of the Act or Ordinance or Regulation or any Provision which is determined for disposal of the case. Then such act or ordinance or provision may be invalid or inoperative but not been declared by the Supreme Court or High court to which that Court is subordinate and the court shall state the opinion and reasons which is used as reference for the decision of the High Court.

  • The word regulation used in this section is defined as per General Clauses Act,1897.

2. If any case which pending does not apply to sub-section (1) then the Court os Session can refer to the decision of High Court to any question of law which is arising.

3. Any Court which is making a reference under the Sub section (1) or (2) may either commit the accused to jail or release him on bail and appear when they are called upon.

Section 396 : Disposal of the case according to High Court’s decision

1. High Court shall pass order to cause a copy of such order to the Court which shall dispose of the case conformable to the said order.

2. High court may direct to covers for the party that may bear the costs.

Section 397 : Calling for record and exercise of power of revision

1. The High Court has power to call upon for the record of any proceedings and examine them before any inferior Court within its local jurisdiction. It can direct the execution of the sentence or order to suspend it and shall release the accused on bail.

2. The power of revision mentioned in sub-section (1) cannot be used in any interlocutory proceedings.

3. If any application is made by a person to the Court under this section then no further application can be made by the same person.

Section 398 : Power to order inquiry

The court has the power to order an inquiry after examining any record under Section 397. The court may direct the Chief Judicial Magistrate by himself or any of his subordinate to make the further inquiry into any complaint which has been dismissed under Section 203 or Sub section (4) of Section 204.

Section 399 : Power of revision by Session Judge

1. Session Judge may exercise all or any of the power of the High Court under Sub-section (1) of Section 401.

2. When power of revision is exercised by Session judge under sub section (1) of 401 then the other sub sections under 401 shall also apply to proceedings.

3. The decision of Sessions judge in the power of revision shall be taken as final and no further proceeding is entertained.

Section 400 : Power of additional Judge

An Additional Judge shall also exercise the powers of Session Judge in respect of any case transferred to him.

Section 401 : Power of revision of High Court

1. The High Court can exercise any of the powers conferred in the Court of Appeal under Sections 386, 389, 390 and 391 or on a Court of Session under Section 307. The court of revision are equally divided into opinions and the case shall be dispose inthe manner provided under Section 392.

2. No order shall be made to the prejudice of the accused and he should be given an opportunity to be heard.

3. An order of acquittal cannot be converted into conviction by the High Court.

4. When a appeal is brought then no proceedings in the way of revision shall be entertained.

5. If an application for revision is made when an appeal lies then the High Court is satisfied that the application was made under erroneous belief then they may treat the application for revision as a petition of appeal and deal with them accordingly.

Section 402 : Withdraw or transfer or revision cases by High Court

1. When one or more convicts of the same trial apply for revision but in different courts. then the high court shall decide about transfer of the cases.

2. When it is transferred to High Court then it shall deal with the case as if it was duly made before it.

3. When it is transferred to Sessions Judge then it shall deal with the case as if it was duly made before it.

4. When the application is transferred from High Court to Session Judge, there can be no further application be made to High Court or any other Court be the person or persons whose application has been disposed by Sessions Judge.

Section 403 : Option of the Court for hearing the parties

It is optional for the Court to hear the parties during the exercise of power of revision.

Section 404 : Statement of Metropolitan Magistrate

Under section 397, any record of Metropolitan Magistrate is called  by High Court, then he has to submit with the record a statement for the grounds on which the order or decision is taken and the Court shall consider such statement before setting aside or overruling such decision.

Section 405 : Order of High Court should be certified to Lower Court

When as case is revised in the manner provided in Section 388 then the High court shall certify its decision to the Court by which the order revised was recorded and they have to make decisions conformable to the certified decision and the record shall be amended if needed.


Illustration 1 : Alamgir v. State of Bihar[iv]

The High Court can only restore a sentence passed by Trial Court. The sentence passed is in the discretion of the Trial Court and the High Court can only enhance the sentence if it satisfied that sentence imposed by the Trial Court is unduly lenient and it has manifestly failed to consider the facts which are relevant and they sentence passed by them does not meet ends of justice.

Illustration 2 : Amit Kapoor v. Ramesh Chander & Anr[v]

The jurisdiction provided to the Court under Section 397 can be used to examine the legality, correctness or proprietary order or judgment passed by the trial court or any inferior court. This section does not specifically use the words “prevent abuse of process of court and secure justice” and the jurisdiction under this section is very limited. The jurisdiction can be used where there is error, non-compliance with the provisions of law and if the decision is erroneous in nature or the judicial discretion is exercised arbitrarily.

Illustration 3 :  Asghar Khan And Ors. vs State Of Uttar Pradesh on 1 May, 1981[vi]

When High Court and Sessions Judge have concurrent powers under Section 397 (3) then in that case the Session Judge being the Appellate Court , it would not have exercised the power of revision. Therefore the High Court only has power of revision under Section 397 in this case.

Illustration 4 : Mohd. Afzal vs Noor Nisha Begum on 5 February, 1997[vii]

It is mandatory for the Session Judge and it is settled law that when power of revision is exercised the accused or the said person should be given an opportunity to be heard.

Frequently asked questions

1. What is interlocutory order under Criminal Procedure Code?

It means the decision of the Court does not deal with the finality of the case but it settles the issues which are subordinate relating to main subject matter. It may be necessary during the pendency of the case and it is also known as interim order.

2. Can a stranger initiate revision under Criminal Procedure Code?

A court can take up the process of revision suo moto or by the motion of a stranger also. The Court can take action on anonymous postcard or newspaper report if there is sufficient ground for conducting a revision. The party pointing out the information can only draw attention of the court but he does not have the authority to demand revision.

3. What are the main limitations of court exercising the power of revision?

The Court exercising the power of revision cannot change the sentence of acquittal into conviction. When a revision is filed under Session Court then there can be no further revision filed in High Court or the vice versa. Therefore if any person is aggrieved by the order of revision in a court cannot approach any other court further.

4. What is procedure to be followed when reference is in pending?

The court can release the accused on bail or commit to jail according to Section 395(3).


Revision and appeal gives power to the victims of crime. They are important to give fair justice and every individual under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution has a right to life and personal liberty. this requires fair trail for that trails should be held without mistakes and inadequacies. These powers give the victims a free chance of being heard and they their case will be presented again after appeal for revision. High can also take suo moto action on powers of revision. the powers of revision helps in benefitting people who have been wronged in justice by law or if they are victims of erroneous decisions. The revisional jurisdiction of the High Court is quite extensive and there can be no form of any judicial injustice to penetrate this power. High Court has been allowed to use these inherent powers in all cases of revision and this has been proved in many cases. These inherent powers shall apply to both substantive and procedural matters

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

References :

[i] Pranab Kumar v. State of West Bengal

[ii] Section 398 of Code of Criminal Procedure,1973

[iii] Paul George v. State

[iv] AIR 1959 SC 436

[v] (2012) 9 SCC 460

[vi] AIR 1981 SC 1697

[vii] 1997 IIAD Delhi 197

Team @Law Times Journal
Hello. We are team members of Law Times Journal. Editorial members at Law Times Journal is a team of writers led by Vedanta Yadav. Want to become a writer at Law Times Journal? Send your current work/resume with title "Resume-Editor" at