The Civil and Constitutional Appellate Jurisdiction of Supreme Court

The appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court can be divided into the following categories:

(a) Constitutional matters;

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(b) Civil matters:

(c) Criminal matters;

(d) Special leave to appeal.

(a) Appeal in Constitutional Matters:

Under Article 132 (1), an appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgment, decree or final order of a High Court whether in civil, criminal or other proceedings if the High Court certifies that under Article 134-A that the case involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution. Where such a certificate is given, any party in the case may appeal in the Supreme Court on the ground that any such question as aforesaid, has been wrongly decided.

The object of the new Article 134-A is to avoid delay in granting certificate by the High Court for appeal to the Supreme Court. Under Article 134-A, the High Court can grant a certificate for appeal to the Supreme Court under Article 132 either on its own motion or on oral application of the aggrieved party immediately after passing the Judgment, decree or final order. Prior to this, the High Courts could do so only on the application of the aggrieved party.

Under Article 132 (1), three conditions Eire necessary for the grant of certificate by the High Court:

(1) The order appealed must be against a judgment, decree or final order made by the High Court in civil, criminal or other proceedings;

(2) The cases must involve a question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution; and

(3) The question involved in such constitutional interpretation must be a question of law.

The words “other proceedings” include all proceedings other than civil and criminal. They include revenue proceedings which include proceedings under the Sales Tax Act or Income Tax Act, etc. Secondly, the case must involve a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. A case of substantial question of law means where the opinions of different High Courts vary from each other. The decision of Supreme Court on that point would be a matter of substantial question of law.

An appeal against High Court’s decision would lie to the Supreme Court only when its decision amounts to a final order. An order of the High Court amounts to a final order only if the order puts to an end the suit or other proceedings. If after the order, the suit is still alive, Le., in which the right is still to be determined, it will not be a final order and no appeal would lie to the Supreme Court.

(b) Appeal in Civil Cases:

Article 133 provides that an appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgment, decree or final order in a civil proceeding of a High Court only if the High Court certifies under Article 134-A :

(i) That the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance, and

(ii) That in the opinion of the High Court, the said question needs to be decided by the Supreme Court.

The Constitution (30th Amendment) Act, 1972 has removed the condition of monetary value that an appeal could go to the Supreme Court only when the amount or value in dispute was not less than Rs. 20,000. Under the amended provision of Article 133, now an appeal could go to the Supreme Court only if the High Court certifies under Article 134-A that the case involves the substantial question of general importance.

In Kiranmal vs. Dayanoba, AIR 1983 S.C. 461, the High Court dismissed the appeal by one word, order “Dismissal” against the judgment of the civil judge. The Supreme Court found that the appellant could have raised serious question of law and facts before the High Court, and, therefore, held that it was a fit case which ought to be admitted and disposed of, on merits. The case was remitted to the High Court for disposal on merits.

The expression, “civil proceedings” means proceedings in which a party asserts the existence of a civil right. The civil proceeding is one in which a person seeks to remedy by an appropriate process the alleged infringement of his civil rights against another person or the State and which if the claim is proved, would result in the declaration, express or implied, of the right claimed and relief, such as, payment of debt, damage, compensation, etc.

There is no ground for restricting the expression “civil proceedings” only to those proceedings which arise out of civil suits in proceedings which are tried as civil suits. Accordingly, a proceeding before a High Court under Article 226 for the grant of writ constitutes a civil proceeding.

In an appeal under Article 133, the appellant cannot be allowed to raise new grounds not raised before the lower court.

No appeal shall lie, unless Parliament by law otherwise provides to the Supreme Court from the judgment, decree or final order of a single judge of a High Court. This prohibition can be removed by Parliament by law. Such a law will not be an amendment of the Constitution.