Revisional powers of High Court

revision jurisdiction High Court

“I can conceive of the High Court sending for the record of the case. I cannot conceive of its sending for record of an issue.”

-Justice Cuming

Revision implies reexamination of case which includes illegal assumption, non exercise or irregular exercise of jurisdiction. In order to maintain a strategic distance from the likelihood of any miscarriage of justice in cases where no right of appeal is accessible under any law or code has conceived another review procedure, specifically Revision.

Criminal Revisional Jurisdiction

The power to revision of the judgments is conferred under Sections 399 and 401of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. The jurisdiction conferred under these sections is of supervisory in nature, which gives a very wide scope to the provisional Court to test the correctness, legality or propriety of any finding, sentence or order. Such Court may also interfere to examine the regularity of any proceedings. The Sections provide with the concurrent and coextensive revision jurisdiction to both High Court and Sessions Judge over the subordinate Criminal Courts within their jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of the others to entertain a revision petition on the same subject matter is expressly ousted by Sub-Section 3 of Section 397 and Sub-Section 3 of Section 399 of the Code.

The Supreme Court in the Case of Amit Kapoor v. Ramesh Chander,[1] that only in the event of a glaring defect in the procedural aspect or there being a manifest error on a point of law and thus a flagrant miscarriage of justice exercise of revisional jurisdiction under the statute ought to be called for.

Section 397(3) expressly limits that a person is allowed to file only one application for revision either to the Court of Session or to the High Court, and if one application is made in a court then no further application for the same subject matter shall be entertained by the other court. And the revisional powers cannot be exercised in relation to any interlocutory order passed in any appeal, inquiry or trial as under Section 397(2). Even during the exercise of revisional jurisdiction the Principles of Natural Justice must be upheld by giving the opportunity of being heard as stated explicitly under Section 401(2).

The section 401(3) is having a greater power as it bars the Court to a finding of acquittal into one of conviction. But it is to be noted that in the case of Eknath Shankarrao Mukkawar v. State of Maharashtra,[2] the Court held that the Code of Criminal Procedure has not abolished the High Court’s power of enhancement of sentence by exercising revisional jurisdiction suo motu. In the case of Akalu Ahir & Ors. v. Ramdeo Ram[3] the Court while laying categories of cases when the Court can interfere with finding of acquittal in revision:

1. When the trial court has no jurisdiction to try the case.

2. When the trial Court has not apprehended the evidence submitted by prosecution.

3. When the Appellate Court has wrongly held the evidence to be inadmissible, this was admitted by the Trial Court.

4. When the acquittal is based on the compounding of the offence which is invalid under the law.

In the case of Nadir Khan v. The State (Delhi Administration),[4] the Supreme Court held that, the Court has suo moto power of revision, if that be so, the question of the same being invoked at the instance of an outsider would not make any difference because ultimately it is the power of revision which is already vested with the High Court statutorily that us being exercised by the High Court.

Civil Revision Jurisdiction

The Section 115 of Civil Procedure Code gives a viable power of Revision to the High Court to exercise a superintending and visitorial power over subordinate courts. The revisional jurisdiction under CPC is mere redrafting jurisdiction and it cannot be linked with undeniable Right to Appeal. The grounds for the revision are explicitly stated in the words of the Section 115 of CPC which are:

“The High Court may call for the record of any case which has been decided by any Court subordinate to such High Court and in which no appeal lies thereto, and if such subordinate court appears

1. When the lower court has acted beyond its authority.

2. When the prudent jurisdiction was not exercised.

3. When the jurisdiction was illegally or irregularly applied.”

The proviso to the section also provides with a major limitation as to that the High Court should not vary or reverse the order made, unless when the order if made favoring the party applying for revision, would dispose the suit or other proceedings or when the order was made to stand would be a failure of justice or cause irreparable injury to the party against whom the revision is made.

The power of revision is limited to keep subordinate courts within the bounds of their jurisdiction. Hon’ble Justice Hidayatullah in Major Khanna Vs Dillon[5] observed: ‘the section is concerned with jurisdiction and jurisdiction alone involving a refusal to exercise jurisdiction where one exists or an assumption of jurisdiction where none exists and lastly acting with illegality or material irregularity.’ Primary object is to prevent subordinate courts from acting arbitrarily, capriciously, illegally or irregularly in exercise of their jurisdiction.

The Court in the case of N.S. Venkatagiri Ayyangar v. H.R.E. Board,[6] Section 115 of CPC, applies only to cases in which no appeal lies and where the legislature has provided no right of appeal the manifest intention is that the order of the trial Court right or wrong shall be final. Also the essence of the Section was observed by the Court in Balakrishna Udayar v Vaudeva Aiyar,[7] the section is not directed against conclusions of law or fact in which the question of jurisdiction is not involved, which was also approved by the Court in Keshav Deo v. Radha Kissan,[8] DLF Housing & Construction v. Sarup Singh[9]and has since been reaffirmed in numerous decisions.

In the case of Shiv Shakti Coop. Housing v. Swaraj Developers,[10] a plain reading of Section 115 as it stands makes it clear that the stress is on the question whether the order in favor of the party applying for revision would have given finality to suit or other proceeding.  If the answer is ‘yes’ then the revision is maintainable. But on the contrary, if the answer is ‘no’ then the revision is not maintainable.  The legislative intent is crystal clear. Those orders, which are interim in nature, cannot be the subject matter of revision under Section 115. Preferring an application under Section 115 of the Code is not a substantive right.  It is a source of power for the High Court to supervise the subordinate courts.

The Revisional Jurisdiction clothes the High Court with the powers to see that the proceedings of the subordinate courts are conducted in accordance with law within the bounds of their jurisdiction and in furtherance of justice. It enables the High Court to correct, when necessary, errors of jurisdiction committed by subordinate courts and provides the means to an aggrieved party to obtain rectification of a non-appealable order. In other words, for the effective exercise of its superintending and visitorial powers, revisional jurisdiction is conferred upon the High Court. Revisional Jurisdiction is not intended to allow the High Court to interfere and correct errors of fact or of law. Revisional jurisdiction of High Court must not be misused by parties to delay their proceedings.

Edited by Pushpamrita Roy

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje 


[1] [2012] 9 SCC 460

[2] AIR 1977 SC 1177

[3] AIR 1973 SC 2145

[4] AIR 1976 SC 2205

[5]AIR 1964 SC 497

[6] AIR 1949 PC 156.

[7] AIR 1917 PC 71.

[8] AIR 1953 SC 23.

[9] AIR 1971 SC 2324.

[10] (2003) 6 SCC 659.

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V Hariharan
I am Hariharan V, pursuing BBA., LL. B., (Hons.) at SASTRA Deemed to be University. I am a law student who has made a routine life to learn contemporary issues of legal and political society. My eyes wide open to Constitution, International Law, Competition Law, Consumer Protection and tax. Books, Movies, Web Series and music complete my day. I always pull up myself to all aspects of the law on a daily basis through Research Papers, Articles, Books and Heated conversations with friends.