Only High Court can alter or review its judgment before it is signed in criminal matter

There is no power of review with the criminal Court after judgment has been rendered. The High Court can alter or review its judgment before it is signed. When an order is passed, it cannot be reviewed. Section 362 Code of criminal Procedure. is based on an acknowledged principle of law that once a matter is finally disposed of by a Court, the said Court in the absence of a specific statutory provision becomes functus officio and is disentitled to entertain a fresh prayer for any relief unless the former order of final disposal is set aside by a Court of competent jurisdiction in a manner prescribed by law. The Court becomes functus officio the moment the order for disposing of a case is signed. Such an order cannot be altered except to the extent of correcting a clerical or arithmetical error. There is also no provision for modification of the judgment. (See: Hari Singh Mann v. Harbhajan Singh Bajwa and Ors. AIR 2001 SC 43; and Chhanni v. State of U.P., AIR 2006 SC 3051)

Moreover, the prohibition contained in Section 362 Code of criminal Procedure. is absolute; after the judgment is signed, even the High Court in exercise of its inherent power under Section 482 Code of criminal Procedure. has no authority or jurisdiction to alter/review the same. (See: Moti Lal v. State of M.P., AIR 1994 SC 1544; Hari Singh Mann (supra); and State of Kerala v. M.M. Manikantan Nair, AIR 2001 SC 2145).

 If a judgment has been pronounced without jurisdiction or in violation of principles of natural justice or where the order has been pronounced without giving an opportunity of being heard to a party affected by it or where an order was obtained by abuse of the process of court which would really amount to its being without jurisdiction, inherent powers can be exercised to recall such order for the reason that in such an eventuality the order becomes a nullity and the provisions of Section 362 Code of criminal Procedure. would not operate. In such eventuality, the judgment is manifestly contrary to the audi alteram partem rule of natural justice. The power of recall is different from the power of altering/reviewing the judgment. However, the party seeking recall/alteration has to establish that it was not at fault. (Vide: Chitawan and Ors. v. Mahboob Ilahi, 1970 Cri.L.J. 378; Deepak Thanwardas Balwani v. State of Maharashtra and Anr. 1985 Cri.L.J. 23; Habu v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1987 Raj. 83 (F.B.); Swarth Mahto and Anr. v. Dharmdeo Narain Singh, AIR 1972 SC 1300; Makkapati Nagaswara Sastri v. S.S. Satyanarayan, AIR 1981 SC 1156; Asit Kumar Kar v. State of West Bengal and Ors., (2009) 2 SCC 703; and Vishnu Agarwal v. State of U.P. and Anr., AIR 2011 SC 1232).

In Smt. Sooraj Devi v. Pyare Lal and Anr., AIR 1981 SC 736, this Court held that the prohibition in Section 362 Code of criminal Procedure. against the Court altering or reviewing its judgment, is subject to what is ‘otherwise provided by this Code or by any other law for the time being in force’. Those words, however, refer to those provisions only where the Court has been expressly authorised by the Code or other law to alter or review its judgment. The inherent power of the Court is not contemplated by the saving provision contained in Section 362 Code of criminal Procedure. and, therefore, the attempt to invoke that power can be of no avail.

Thus, the law on the issue can be summarised to the effect that the criminal justice delivery system does not clothe the court to add or delete any words, except to correct the clerical or arithmetical error as specifically been provided under the statute itself after pronouncement of the judgment as the Judge becomes functus officio. Any mistake or glaring omission is left to be corrected only by the appropriate forum in accordance with law.