Q. Discuss the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

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The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is extensive. It is the highest court of appeal. It not only succeeded the Federal Court of India but also replaced the British Privy Council. It exercises wide appellate jurisdiction. The appellate power of the Supreme court can be classified as:


I.                   Appeal in Constitutional matters article 132(1):

The power of the Supreme Court to hear appeals in constitutional matters is very broad because it acts as the guardian of the constitution.

An appeal lies to the Supreme Court after a High Court grants a certificate. Such a certificate can be granted if the following conditions are fulfilled,

A.  An appeal lies only from “any judgment, decree or final order” of a High Court.

B.  The case ought to involve a question of law as to interpretation of the Constitution.

C.  The question involved must be a “substantial question”. A question is not ‘substantial’ when the law on the subject has been finally and authoritatively settled by the Supreme Court.


II.                Appeal in civil matters article 133(1)

Under Art. 133(1), an appeal lies to the Supreme Court from any judgment, decree or final order in a civil proceeding of a High Court if it certifies that,

A.  The case involves a substantial question of law of general importance, and

B.  In the opinion of the High Court, the said question needs to be decided by the Supreme Court.


III.             Appeal in criminal matters article 134

The Supreme Court has only a limited criminal appellate jurisdiction in order to avoid piling up of cases in the Supreme Court. This can happen in two modes:

A. Without the certificate of appeal from HC: An appeal lies to the Supreme Court if,

·         The High Court on appeal has reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death or sentenced him to imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than 10 years. (Art. 134(1)(a)) It exists as a matter of right.

·         The High Court has withdrawn for trial a case from a lower court and sentenced the accused to death or sentenced him to imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than 10 years. (Art. 134 (1)(b))

B. With certificate:

The Supreme Court can hear an appeal in a criminal case if the High Court certifies that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court. A certificate needs to be granted only in cases where there is a substantial question of law involved, Case: Babu v. State of Uttar Pradesh.


IV.              Appeal by Special Leave (discretionary power)

The Supreme Court has also a very wide appellate jurisdiction over all Courts and Tribunals in India in as much as it may, in its discretion, grant special leave to appeal under Article 136 of the Constitution from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any Court or Tribunal in the territory of India.

However, it cannot be passed in case of the judgment passed by a court or tribunal of armed forces.


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