The nature and scope of an appellate jurisdiction

The Apex Court in the context of considering the nature and scope of an appellate jurisdiction, in Tirupati Balaji Developers Pvt. Ltd. and Others Vs. State of Bihar and Others,  explained the legal position thus in paragraphs 11 and 30:

11. The very conferral of appellate jurisdiction carries with it certain consequences. Conferral of a principal substantive jurisdiction carries with it, as a necessary concomitant of that power, the power to exercise such other incidental and ancillary powers without which the conferral of the principal power shall be rendered redundant. As held by Their Lordships of the Privy Council in AIR 1932 165 (Privy Council) (Sir Dinshaw Mulla speaking for the Bench of five),an appeal is an application by a party to an appellate court asking it to set aside or revise a decision of a subordinate court. The appeal does not cease to be an appeal though irregular or incompetent. Placing on record his opinion, Subramania Ayyar, J. as a member of the Full Bench (of five Judges) in Chappan v. Moidin Kutti – ILR 1899) Mad.68 (at ILR p.80) stated inter alia that appeal is the removal of a cause or a suit from an inferior to a superior judge or court for re-examination or review. According to Wharton’s Law Lexicon such removal of a cause or suit is for the purpose of testing the soundness of the decision of the inferior court. In consonance with this particular meaning of appeal, “appellate jurisdiction” means “the power of a superior court to review the decision of an inferior court”.

Here the two things which are required to constitute appellate jurisdiction, are the existence of the relation of superior and inferior court and the power on the part of the former to review decisions of the latter. This has been well put by Story: ‘The essential criterion of appellate jurisdiction is, that it revises and corrects the proceedings in a cause already instituted and does not create that cause. In reference to judicial tribunals an appellate jurisdiction, therefore, necessarily implies that the subject-matter has been already instituted and acted upon, by some other court, whose judgment or proceedings are to be revised,’ (Section 1761, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States) (ILR.p.80).

28. The very existence of appellate jurisdiction obliges the lower jurisdiction to render all of its assistance to the higher jurisdiction to enable the exercise of appellate jurisdiction fully and effectively. the lower forum may be called upon to certify its record of case and proceedings to the superior forum. The superior forum may stand in need of some information which being in the possession or knowledge of the subordinate forum, shall have to be made available only by it. The superior forum may issue a stay order or restraint order or may suspend, expedite or regulate the proceedings in the subordinate forum. During or at the end of exercise of the appellate jurisdiction any direction made by the higher forum shall have to be complied with by the lower forum, otherwise the hierarchy becomes meaningless.


Categories: CIVIL