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In Re: Pudi Ramulu and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1957CriLJ1213
AppellantIn Re: Pudi Ramulu and ors.
Excerpt:
.....into actual terms of money. 7. moreover, it has to be noticed that under section 537 of the code of criminal procedure, the powers of interference of a court of appeal are limited to cases where in fact there has been a failure of justice. in other words, the initial condition is a strong likelihood of miscarriage of justice. these, would be the exceptional cases in which the high court ought to issue the certificate. he urges further that their conviction under sections 34 and 302, indian penal code, in spite of the charge against them being under section 302, indian penal code, alone, is bad in law. the fact that the petitioners were not satisfied with beating the deceased once but came back to beat him until he died is sufficient to show that they had a preconceived intention..........was provided for against the judgment of high courts in criminal proceedings. section 411-a of the code of criminal procedure, 1898 provided for an appeal only to the high court itself against judgments in trials held in exercise of its original criminal jurisdiction. the principles enunciated by the privy council for their interference in criminal matters were based on the view that they were not sitting as a court of criminal appeal but were merely exercising the prerogative of the sovereign in council to review the course of criminal justice.they cannot therefore be of much assistance in construing the provisions of the constitution, which constituted for the first time a court of criminal appeal over the high courts. under article 132(1), an appeal to the supreme court is provided.....
Judgment:

Krishna Rao J.

1. This is an application under Article 134 of the Constitution for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against our judgment in Criminal Appeal No. 33 of 1955 by which the convictions of the three petitioners under Section 302, Indian Penal Code and their sentences of transportation for life were confirmed and their appeal from the judgment of the Court of Session, West Godavari, in Sessions Case No. 58 of 1954 was dismissed. The issue of a certificate is prayed for under Sub-clause (c) of Clause (1) or Article 134, which is in the following terms:

(1) An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High Court in the territory of India if the High Court- xxx x

(c) Certifies that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court:

Provided that an appeal under Sub-clause (c) shall lie subject to such provisions as may be made in that behalf under Clause 0) of Article 145 and to such conditions as the High Court may establish or require.

The proviso is immaterial for the purpose of this petition as no rules or conditions mentioned therein have been framed.

2. Sri B. V. Rama Rao, the learned Counsel for the petitioners has contended that the Sub-clause ought to be liberally construed so as to enable an appeal to the Supreme Court whenever a party raises a substantial question of law or complains of grave injustice. We are of opinion that the proposition in such wide terms would carry the sub-clause far beyond its true scope.

3. Prior to the Constitution, no appeal was provided for against the judgment of High Courts in criminal proceedings. Section 411-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 provided for an appeal only to the High Court itself against judgments in trials held in exercise of its original criminal jurisdiction. The principles enunciated by the Privy Council for their interference in criminal matters were based on the view that they were not sitting as a Court of Criminal Appeal but were merely exercising the prerogative of the Sovereign in Council to review the course of criminal justice.

They cannot therefore be of much assistance in construing the provisions of the Constitution, which constituted for the first time a Court of Criminal Appeal over the High Courts. Under Article 132(1), an appeal to the Supreme Court is provided for from decisions of High Courts in all proceedings including criminal proceedings, if the High Court certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. Under Sub-clauses (a) and (b) of Article 134(1), a limited right of appeal is given, namely, in cases where a High Court on appeal reverses an acquittal and sentences the accused to death and where a High Court withdraws for trial before itself any case from a subordinate Court and after trial sentences the accused to death.

Sub-clause (c) provides for appeals from decisions of High Courts in other criminal proceedings, but subject to the condition that the High Court certifies the case as fit for appeal to the Supreme Court. Under Clause (2) of Article 134, the Parliament is empowered to make laws conferring further appellate powers on the Supreme Court. Under Clause (1) of Article 136, the Supreme Court is vested with an overriding discretion to grant special leave to appeal in any civil or criminal case.

From these provisions it is clear that the intention of the Constitution is to retain the finality of decisions of High Courts in criminal matters until Parliament makes a law under Article 134(2), and to provide for no appeals in criminal matters as of right, except in cases where an accused has been sentenced to death and has had no chance to appeal against his conviction by the High Court. It cannot be said that there is anything in the history or the setting of Sub-clause (c), which calls for, in the words of the learned Counsel, a 'liberal construction'. It follows that Sub-clause (c) has to be construed in accordance with the ordinary rules and principles of construction.

4. Sub-clause (c) has been authoritatively interpreted by the Supreme Court in Baladin v. State of U. P. (S) : 1956CriLJ345 . Their Lordships held that normally there is no right of appeal in any type of case other than that specified in Sub-clauses (a) and (b), that the only exception is Sub-clause (c) intended to meet extraordinary cases, that the discretion vested in the High Court to issue a certificate under Sub-clause (c) must be exercised judicially along well-established lines and not mechanically, and that the certificate should show what exactly is the question of outstanding difficulty or importance which the High Court feels ought to be settled by the Supreme Court.

A doubt felt by the High Court about the facts would not be sufficient, because it is the duty of all Criminal Courts to give the benefit of any doubt to the accused. Besides cases raising questions of outstanding difficulty or importance to be settled by the Supreme Court, there may be cases where a patent mistake in the judgment is brought to the notice of the High Court. An illustration of this type of case is given in Nar Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh : [1955]1SCR238 . There the High Court meant to convict one Bechan Singh and to acquit Nanhu Singh. But instead of doing so, it acquitted Bechan Singh and convicted Nanhu Singh by mistake and the Supreme Court held that a certificate under Sub-clause (c) was rightly issued to Nanhu Singh.

5. It would be obviously impossible to define exhaustively what are questions of outstanding difficulty or importance. The words of Sub-clause (c) of Article 134(1) are similar to-those of the former Clause (c) of Section 109 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, which gave a right of appeal from High Courts to His Majesty in Council 'from any decree or order, when the case, as hereinafter provided, is certified to be a fit one for appeal to His Majesty in Council.' In Banarsi Prasad v. Kashi Krishna Narain ILR 23 All 227 (PC) (C) Lord Hob-house construing the similar provision in the Code of 1882 said:

that it is clearly intended to meet special cases ; such, for example, as those in which the point in dispute is not measurable by money, though it may be of great public or private importance.

In Radhakrishna Ayyar v. Swaminatha Ayyar ILR 44 Mad 293 : AIR 1921 PC 25 (D), the Judicial Committee observed with reference to the scope of Section 109 (c), Civil Procedure Code:

The conditions that regulate the granting of certificate for leave to appeal have been clearly stated in the cases referred to by counsel for the respondent, namely, ILR 23 All 227 (PC) (C) and Radha Krishna Das v. Rai Krishnachand ILR 23 All 415 (PC) (E). It is not necessary to examine them again for the principle which they establish is plain and cannot be questioned. That principle is this : that as an initial condition to appeal to His Majesty in Council, it is essential that the petitioners should satisfy the Court that the subject-matter of the suit is Rs. 10,000 and in addition that in certain cafes there should be added some substantial question of law.

This docs not cover the whole grounds of appeal, because it is plain that there may be certain cases in which it is impossible to define in money value the exact character of the dispute there are questions, as for example, those relating to religious rites and ceremonies, to caste and family rights, or such matters as the reduction of the capital of companies as well as questions of wide public importance in which the subject-matter in dispute cannot be reduced into actual terms of money. Sub-section (c) of Section 109, Civil Procedure Code contemplates that such a state of things exists, and Rule 3 of Order 45, regulates the procedure.

As Clauses (a) and (b) of Section 100, Civil Procedure Code, covered disputes which could be valued in terms of money, it was held that Clause (c) was intended for cases in which the dispute could not be so measured, but was of a great public or private importance. In Ramanathan v. Audinatha AIR 1931 Mad 642 (F) Madhavan Nair, J., explained the character of such cases. A case of public importance would be one the decision in which is likely to affect a large number of persons although they are not parties to it. A case of private importance would be one the decision in which is likely to be a precedent for governing numerous other cases in which one of the parties raises the same dispute.

6. Disputes in criminal proceedings, unlike those in Civil proceedings, are as a rule in. capable of being valued in terms of money. On the other hand, they are generally of great private importance as they involve the liberty of the person accused. Nevertheless the Constitution has restricted the normal right of appeal to cases where the extreme penalty of the law has been imposed and the accused had no chance to appeal against his conviction. Therefore, it is obvious that the construction of Clause (c) of Section 109, Civil Procedure Code, cannot be bodily imported into the construction of Sub-clause (c) of Article 134(1) of the Constitution.

7. Moreover, it has to be noticed that under Section 537 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the powers of interference of a Court of appeal are limited to cases where in fact there has been a failure of justice. It follows that the question canvassed in an application under Article 134(1) must be one, the decision of which in a way different from that by the High Court would affect the conviction or acquittal in the case. In other words, the initial condition is a strong likelihood of miscarriage of justice. The likelihood would amount to a certainty in cases where some error in the judgment of the High Court is brought to its notice, which would warrant a review of the judgment, if a review were permissible under the law, which is not.

These, would be the exceptional cases in which the High Court ought to issue the certificate. Other cases would be those in which a question of law of unusual difficulty is raised, fit for invoking the decision of the Highest Court in the land, such as question in which there is conflict between different High Courts or questions in which the High Court itself feels a doubt a-3 to the correctness of its decision. Or they may be questions of law of great public importance though not Involving the interpretation of the Constitution, such as those of importance to the State or involving some principle in the administration of criminal justice which has not been settled by binding precedent.

8. Sri R. V. Rama Rao has contended that there are several errors of law in our judgment in Criminal Appeal No. 33 of 1955. According to him as the death of the deceased was the combined effect of the injuries caused by the petitioners (accused 1 to 3) and the fourth accused who was acquitted, none of the petitioners can be held liable for an offence under Section 302, Indian Penal Code. He also urges that as the petitioners were acquitted of the charge under Section 148, Indian Penal Code, framed jointly against them end accused 4 to 8, they had no common object of beating the deceased to death and cannot in law be imputed with such an intention.

He urges further that their conviction under Sections 34 and 302, Indian Penal Code, in spite of the charge against them being under Section 302, Indian Penal Code, alone, is bad in law. But all these matters were elaborately considered in our judgment and none of them in our opinion raise questions of law of unusual difficulty. The series of acts which were referred to in the charge under Section 302, Indian Penal Code, were the petitioners' first beating the deceased and coming back with the fourth accused and beating the deceased again until he died.

The fact that the petitioners were not satisfied with beating the deceased once but came back to beat him until he died is sufficient to show that they had a preconceived intention to cause his death. The sum and substance of the petitioners' complaint is that there was an omission to refer to Section 34, Indian Penal Code, in the charge under Section 302, Indian Penal Code, but this raises only the question whether any prejudice has been caused to them. See Willie Slaney v. State of Madhya Pradesh (S) : 1956CriLJ291 . It is a question of fact, which we have discussed at length In our judgment, and found that there was no prejudice. We are unable to find any error in the judgment which would justify our saying that a review thereof is necessary.

9. This petition is therefore dismissed.


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