LCI Learning

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on LinkedIn

Share on Email

Share More


  • Section 397 - 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) grants both the ‘Sessions and High Court’ concurrent powers for revision. 
  • Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) grants the High Court the power of revision in civil matters, allowing it to oversee and correct decisions made by subordinate courts. 
  • The purpose of the ‘Review’ process is to correct and envision miscarriages of justice, ‘Order 47, Rule 1’ outlines the criteria warranting a review application. The term ‘Revision’ denotes a meticulous re-evaluation, emphasizing comprehensive scrutiny to ensure the precision of law and justice.


In common law tradition, the principle of ensuring access to remedy has been a cornerstone, intertwined with the fabric of ‘natural justice’ evident in the ‘Criminal Procedure Code’. In instances where the code does not grant a right to appeal, it provides recourse through ‘Revisional Jurisdiction’, allowing aggrieved parties to seek relief from the ‘Sessions Court or the High Court’. Section 397 and 401 of CrPC give both courts concurrent powers for revision, although with limitations such as ‘Section 401(3)’, which bars the High Court from converting acquittals into convictions.  

Furthermore, Section 115 of the Civil Procedure Code empowers the High Court with revisional authority over subordinate courts, primarily for oversight rather than an absolute ‘Right to Appeal’. While the revisional jurisdiction under CPC serves to rectify errors of jurisdiction or illegality, it is crucial to note its distinct nature from appellate processes. The High Court’s revisional powers extend beyond those enumerated in Section 401(1), allowing intervention in cases of incorrectness or impropriety in subordinate court proceedings. 

Although revisional jurisdiction aims to uphold legal standards and prevent misuse, it should not be misconstrued as a tool for correcting factual or legal errors. Despite the statutory restriction outlined in Section 401(3), courts have, through judicial interpretation, expanded their jurisdiction in exceptional circumstances, aligning with principles of fairness and justice. These interpretations draw from established legal principles found in civil and administrative law, enriching the efficacy and moral underpinnings of the Code’s provisions. 


In sub-section 1 of 397 there is mention of four words: “The High Court or any Sessions Judge may call for and examine the record of any proceeding before any inferior Criminal Court situated within its or his local jurisdiction to satisfy itself or himself; to the correctness, legality or propriety of any finding, sentence or order, recorded or passed, and as to the regularity of any proceedings of such inferior Court, and may, when calling, for such record, direct that the execution of any sentence or order be suspended, and if the accused is in confinement that he be released on bail or on his own bond pending the examination of the record.” 

These four altogether possess meanings, that define the whole section, which is – Proceedings denote that, everything that is recorded during the legal process in the lower court whose records are to be examined. Findings denote that, a judge’s conclusion on a legal matter, which could be either a conviction or an acquittal. Sentence denotes that, punishment given to the individual who has been convicted of a crime. Order denotes that, at the end of the case proceeding, the judge gives direction, and command.

Section 397 – Calling for records to exercise powers of revision

This section empowers the High Court to oversee lower courts, termed as ‘power of superintendence’ administratively and ‘duty of revision’ judicially. The High Court can initiate reviews or respond to reports of injustices or illegalities. This authority ensures fair justice, akin to its duty to handle appeals and revisions. 

Unlike an appeal, revisional jurisdiction aims to supervise and provide remedies for injustices. The focus is on ensuring substantial. Other than this section one of the other important provisions of law that govern ‘revision in favour of High Court’ is “Article 227” of the Constitution which grants the High Court superintendence powers over all courts and tribunals in cases of severe negligence, authority abuse, or justice principle violations, but this power is to be exercised with caution. 

Discretion in using revisional jurisdiction should be exercised in line with this section, particularly in cases of miscarriages of justice. Unlike appeals, revision isn’t automatic but a procedural tool. When assessing decisions, the revision court doesn’t re-evaluate evidence extensively. instead, it ensures the decision's legality, correctness, and propriety refraining from substituting its judgement. 

In the case of “Rajasthan V. Fatehkaran Mendu (2017) 3 SCC 198”, the Supreme Court emphasized that the intent behind this provision is to correct evident flaws, errors in jurisdiction or law, or any distortions that arose during the proceedings. As per these statutes, the High Court is empowered to review a revision petition either on its own motion, often terms as ‘suo-moto’, or upon the request of the aggrieved party. 

Section 401 – High Court’s powers of revision

The Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the High Court in its role as a “court of revision”. The High Court possesses the discretionary authority to review the legality, propriety, regularity or correctness of findings, sentences, or orders issued by lower criminal courts, a jurisdiction that should be exercised with causation. 

Under Section 401, the High Court’s authority is broad and not limited to the remedies listed in sub-section (1). Although the sub-section suggests some potential solutions, it doesn’t cover all possibilities. During a revision hearing focusing solely on the sentence, a judge can address both the conviction and sentence. Additionally, the powers granted under section 401 are not limited by the provisions of section 397, which allow for the requests for records. 

As per Section 401(4), the High Court cannot exercise revisional powers at the behest of an accused who has the right to appeal but chooses not to. However, an exception exists while ordinarily, the High Court wouldn't entertain a revision if the accused could have appealed, in extraordinary circumstances, particularly if not intervening would result in unjust lengthy imprisonment, the High Court may step in. 

In the case of “State of Maharashtra V. Jagmohan Singh Kuldip Singh Anand”, the Supreme Court clarified that the Revisional court is capable of performing all functions of an Appellate Court as defined in Section 401 of CrPC. this allows the High Court or Sessions Court, depending on the matter, to evaluate the accuracy, legality, and appropriateness of decisions made by lower courts and ensure procedural regularity under Section 397 of the CrPC. When necessary, the High Court or Sessions Court may employ full appellate powers for these purposes. However, it's essential to understand that the jurisdiction of the Appellate Court is confined to the specific purposes outlined in Section 401 of the CrPC. 

Case laws:

1.    Rajendra Rajoriya V. Jagat Narain Thapak (2018)

The Supreme Court emphasized that the remarks and rationale presented by the sessions court, functioning as the revisional court, should be regarded strictly as a remand order, not as an act of taking cognizance. Furthermore, the Magistrate’s court is instructed not to take into account these remarks of the revisional court while issuing its order. Instead, the Magistrate’s court is directed to conduct an independent evaluation of the factual evidence and merits of the case before rendering its decision. 

2.    Bachan Singh V. State of Punjab 

The court addressed the High Court’s revisional powers, affirming its authority to act akin to an Appellate Court under Section 386 of CrPC. this allows the High Court to enhance the sentence when a petition is filed under Section 401 for the revisionary powers. Under section 401, the High Court can revise any proceedings for which it has called the record or which otherwise comes to its knowledge. This grants the High Court the authority, similar to an Appellate Court under Section 386, to either increase or decrease the punishment.

3.    Kaptan Singh and Ors V. State of M.P. and Anr.

The Supreme Court stressed that the High Court's power of revision, especially in cases of reviewing acquittal orders, must be utilised judiciously. This power should only be invoked when specific conditions are met, such as the presence of clear legal error in the acquittal judgement or a significant miscarriage of justice. In this case, the Supreme Court found serious flaws in the trial court’s judgement, resulting in grave injustice. Consequently, the High Court’s decision to overturn the acquittal was deemed justified. The Supreme Court reiterated the principle established in the ‘Chinnaswamy Case’, emphasizing that while the High Court can overturn an acquittal order, this authority should be exercised with caution. It should be reserved for exceptional circumstances where there are glaring procedural irregularities or evident legal mistakes that lead to a blatant injustice.

4.    Nadir Khan V. The State (Delhi Administration)

The Supreme Court affirmed that the court possesses the power of the ‘suo-moto’ revision. Therefore, whether this power is invoked by an external party or not doesn’t affect the fact that it is ultimately the statutory power of revision vested with the High Court that is being exercised. 


Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 empowers the High Court over three key aspects:

  1. Affirming that the lower court’s decision falls within its lawful jurisdiction
  2. Evaluating the merit of the case and whether it warrants the lower court’s jurisdiction
  3. Ensuring that the lower court's actions are lawful and free from significant irregularities. 

Once these criteria are satisfied, the High Court generally refrains from intervening, even if it disagrees vehemently with the lower court’s findings on legal or factual matters. 

Most High Courts broadly interpret Section 115 to include “interlocutory orders” -(provisional rulings made by a court during ongoing legal proceedings to address procedural matters or temporary issues without conclusively determining the case’s outcome), although there are discrepancies in interpretations. For instance, the Allahabad High Court contends that interlocutory orders are not encompassed within the term “case decided” as outlined in Section 115, thus not subject to revision. 

Section 115 – Revision 

This section empowers the High Court to prevent arbitrary or irregular conduct by subordinate courts, ensuring that their proceedings align with legal requirements and uphold justice. This provision grants the High Court “Revisional Authority” to rectify jurisdictional errors made by lower courts. Importantly, it provides a remedy for parties aggrieved by non-appealable orders. The High Court can exercise this power ‘suo-moto’, without a specific application. 

Revision under Section 115 involves a meticulous re-evaluation of a matter to guarantee accuracy and fairness. Despite due diligence, court judgments may sometimes contain inadvertent mistakes or human errors. This provision allows for challenging decisions of subordinate courts that exceed their jurisdiction or fail to exercise lawful powers. Additionally, the High Court can initiate revision proceedings if it deems a lower court to have acted beyond its jurisdiction. Following the revision, the court may adjust its decisions as necessary to uphold fairness and accuracy in the administration of justice. 

The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, lays down rules governing civil proceedings in India, including the circumstances under which civil cases can be revised by the High Court and the procedural requirements involved. It's essential to distinguish revision from review, which involves a re-examination of a case, and appeal, which entails challenging a court’s judgement. 

Case Laws:

1.    Major S.S. Khanna V. Brig. F.J. Dillon (1963)

In the context of the revision of a case, the subordinate court must already issue a judgment. Without a prior decision and declaration of judgment by the subordinate court, revision cannot commence. The term “case decided” lacked a precise definition in CPC, 1908, leading to differing interpretations regarding its coverage of interlocutory orders. 

This ambiguity was clarified in this case, where it was held that Section 115 extends to interlocutory orders as well. Justice Shah emphasised that the term “case” is broad, encompassing civil proceedings beyond suits. Section 115 isn’t restricted to the entirety of proceedings in a civil court, confining “case” solely to entire proceedings would unduly limit supervisory powers, potentially depriving aggrieved parties of relief when most needed and resulting in injustice. 

2.    Shiv Shakti Coop. Housing V. Swaraj Developers

In this case, a direct interpretation of Section 115 highlights the pivotal aspect of determining whether the order under consideration would conclusively resolve the suit or proceedings. If the response is affirmative, revision is permissible. Conversely, if the order is “interim” and does not bring closure to the case, revision is not admissible. The legislative intent is clear; section 115 does not encompass interim orders. It's crucial to recognise that filing an application under Section 115 does not constitute a substantive right; rather, it serves as a mechanism for the High Court to supervise the actions of the subordinate courts. 

3.    Dinshaw Iron Works V. Mithakhan Adamji 

The High Court, when exercising its “Revisional Powers”, refrains from delving into the evidential merits of a case. Instead, its focus remains on ensuring that the lower court’s decisions adhere to legal requirements. It intervenes only when there are notable irregularities or jurisdictional lapses, as established in this case. Section 115 grants the High Court authority, although within limits. 

4.    Rajaram Nathuji Pathode V. Maniran Samtha Kose

Intervention by the High Court is warranted only if the lower appellate court exceeds its jurisdiction, acts unlawfully, or commits significant irregularities. Mere errors or divisions from legal standards, as observed in this case it does not justify the High Court’s interference with the lower court’s ruling.


Under Part V of the Constitution of India, Article 226 confers upon the High Court the power to issue various writs such as “Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Quo – Warranto and Certiorari” to any person or authority, including the government. This provision enables the High Court to protect and enforce the fundamental rights guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution as well as for other legitimate purposes. 

Article 226(1) empowers each High Court within India’s “Territorial Jurisdiction” to issue orders, instructions, and writs to any individual or authority, including the government, for the enforcement of fundamental rights and other legal rights within its “Jurisdiction”. 

Additionally, Article 226(2) extends the authority of the High Courts to issue orders, instructions,B and writs to any government authority or individual, irrespective of their location outside the High Court's local jurisdiction. This authority is granted if the cause of action arises wholly or partially within the High Court's jurisdiction. Regardless of the government authority's location of the individual “domicile”.

Article 131 of the Limitation Act, 1963, stipulates that a “Revision” under Section 397 of the Criminal Procedure Code must be filed within 90 days from the date of the order concerned. Nevertheless, Section 5 of the Limitation Act, of 1963, confers upon the revisional court the authority to excuse delays if the revisionist furnishes a satisfactory explanation for the tardiness. 

The term “sufficient cause” in Section 5 should be construed liberally. It encompasses reasons beyond the revisionist’s control that warrant the delay or demonstrate their diligence and active involvement in the matter. 


In conclusion, the provisions governing “revisional jurisdiction” under both the codes of “Criminal Procedure Code and Civil Procedure Code”, play a crucial role in ensuring the fair and effective administration of justice in India. These provisions empower the High Courts to oversee the actions of subordinate courts, rectify errors of jurisdiction or illegality, and uphold the principles of natural justice. 

While revisional jurisdiction serves as a mechanism for correcting miscarriages of justice and ensuring the legality and propriety of court decisions, it is essential to recognise its limitations. The exercise of revisional jurisdiction is discretionary and subject to statutory restrictions, such as the limitation period prescribed under the Limitations Act, of 1963. However, the courts have also interpreted these provisions liberally, considering factors such as the interest of justice and the diligence of the parties involved. 

Furthermore, revisional jurisdiction should not be misconstrued as a substitute for appellate remedies, but rather as a complementary mechanism for supervising lower court proceedings and preventing injustice. It is incumbent upon the High Courts to exercise their revisional powers judiciously, with a focus on upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of all parties involved. 

In essence, revisional jurisdiction under both the CrPC and CPC embodies the principles of fairness, equity, and access to justice, thereby contributing to the overall integrity and effectiveness of the Indian legal system.

"Loved reading this piece by anshika parth?
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"

Tags :

Category Others, Other Articles by - anshika parth