All about Revision in Criminal Cases


Revision is the process of examination of an order of a lower court by a
higher court, so as to rectify any improper exercise of judicial power.

The precise purpose of revision is to examine the correctness, legality
or propriety of any proceedings before any inferior court. Revision
keeps the lower court within the bounds of their authority and makes
them work according to well defined principles of law. Revisional
jurisdiction is analogous to power of supervision and superintendence.

Appeal may not normally end the illegality

In a court case, the provision of appeal to the higher court is inbuilt
in law. An aggrieved litigant can redress his grievance by exercising
that provision. But in some cases there is no provision for appeal at
all. Even if appeal is there, there is only one appeal in some cases. In
some other cases the appeal provision may not be holistic enough to
address every sort of grievance of the litigant. Therefore in order to
avoid the remote possibility of any miscarriage of justice there is a
provision for revision.

The provision for revision is discretionary in nature. So no party to a
case has an inherent right to be heard before a court exercising
revision. The court can dispose of the revision petition of its own
without even hearing the parities.

Provisions in Criminal Procedure Code

The provisions for revision in criminal cases are provided from sections
397 to 405 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The sections 399, 400 and 401 of CrPC deal with the powers of revision
of Sessions Judge, Additional Sessions Judge and High Court. In the
exercise of revision, the High Court is superior to Sessions Judge and
the Sessions Judge is superior to Assistant Sessions Judge, Chief
Judicial Magistrate, and all other magistrates including District

In some circumstances, a “further inquiry” can be ordered under section
398 of CrPC in certain circumstances. The sections 397 to 401 of CrPC
are closely interlinked and hence are to be read together.

The records can be called for

In order to exercise the powers of revision the High Court or Sessions
Court can call for the records of proceedings for examination and pass
suitable orders to remove any miscarriage of justice. It is an exercise
of supervisory jurisdiction.

The record of any proceeding to be called for need not be about the
commission or trial of an offence, but can be about prevention of an
offence as well. That means, for examination in revision, the records of
any proceeding before an inferior court can be called for.

The basic test for calling the record is not the nature of the
proceeding but the nature of the court in which that proceeding is held.
The term ‘inferior court’ does not denote any ‘administrative
inferiority’ but only ‘judicial inferiority’.

For the purpose of revision, all Judicial Magistrates, all Assistant
Sessions Judges and all Additional District Judges are considered
inferior to the Sessions Judge. Addition District Magistrate is also
inferior to District Court. Similarly all subordinate courts are
inferior to the High Court.

However an inquiry into a death conducted under the Section 176 CrPC is
not a function of a criminal court but something analogous to
investigation. Hence no revision is possible on that.

A stranger can initiate revision

In revision, a revisional court can carry out revision suo moto or on
the motion of even a stranger. The court can act on the basis of a
newspaper report or an anonymous post card if there is sufficient ground
for conducting a revision. The party pointing out the information has no
authority to demand revision but it is the court which has authority.
The party is only drawing the attention of the court.

No revision in interlocutory orders

In an interlocutory order passed in appeal in any inquiry, trial or
other proceeding, no revision is allowed as per section 397(2) of CrPC.

The matter involved in such an order passed in appeal can be challenged
only at the end of the proceeding when the final order goes against the

Nature of an interlocutory order

There are altogether three categories of order that a court can pass –
final, intermediate and interlocutory.

Interlocutory order is an order passed at some intermediate stage of
a proceeding. It is not a kind of order that disallows the right of the
parties. The expression \’interlocutory\’ is understood in
contra-distinction to what is termed as final. A court usually disposes
of many ancillary disputes raised by parties in a proceeding by issuing
numerous orders. All such orders which do not finally dispose of a
judicial proceeding are termed \’interlocutory\’ orders.

Such interlocutory orders form part of the steps, taken towards the
final adjudication in the prosecution of a proceeding. Every such
interlocutory order may dispose of a particular point of controversy
raised in the proceeding. An order would be an interlocutory order
unless such an order finally disposes of the controversy between the

The grant or refusal of bail is an interlocutory order. Order summoning
witnesses, adjourning cases, granting or cancelling bail, calling for
reports etc are interlocutory orders. An order rejecting an application
for recalling witnesses is an interlocutory order.

Intermediate or quasi - final order: There are some orders which are
neither interlocutory nor final in nature. They are termed intermediate
orders or quasi-final orders. Therefore an intermediate order is one
which is interlocutory in nature but when reversed, it has the effect of
terminating the proceedings and thereby resulting in a final order. Two
such intermediate orders are an order taking cognizance of an offence
and summoning an accused and an order for framing charges. Prima facie
these orders are interlocutory in nature, but when an order taking
cognizance and summoning an accused is reversed, it has the effect of
terminating the proceedings against that person resulting in a final
order in his or her favour.

Similarly, an order for framing of charges if reversed has the effect of
discharging the accused person and resulting in a final order in his or
her favour. Therefore, an intermediate order is one which if passed in a
certain way, the proceedings would terminate but if passed in another
way, the proceedings would continue. The basic test is that when an
order rejecting a plea of the accused on a point when granted will
conclude the particular proceeding it cannot be treated as an
interlocutory order.

There is no doubt that in respect of a final order a court can exercise
its revisional jurisdiction. There is equally no doubt that in respect
of an interlocutory order, the court cannot exercise its revision
jurisdiction. In case of an intermediate order, the court can exercise
its revision jurisdiction since it is not an interlocutory order.

Final order: An order on taking cognizance is a final order and
hence revision is possible on that. An order on framing charge is not
interlocutory. The order on tendering pardon is a final order. However
an interlocutory order issued without jurisdiction is a nullity and
hence is revisable.

Power to order inquiry under revision

The power of the High Court or Session Court under Section 398 of CrPC
is primarily to examine any record received in exercise of powers under
Section 397 CrPC - that is in regard to the correctness, legality or
propriety of any finding. Such power is exercisable to any pending or
concluded proceeding. The power under Section 398 is not co-extensive
with the power under section 397 but far wider.

Therefore, the High Court or Sessions Judge can direct the Chief
Judicial Magistrate or any Magistrate to conduct further inquiry into
any complaint dismissed under section 203 for having no sufficient
ground, or under section 204 (4) for not paying process fee for issuing
process, or the discharge of any person accused of any offence under the
CrPC. The High Court or Sessions Court can order a ‘further inquiry’ in
such cases. However a ‘further inquiry’ is not a ‘fresh preliminary
inquiry’ but a mere re-appraisal of the very evidence which was examined
prior to the passing of the order.

In short when a case is before a Court of Session for revision it can
exercise the powers under both the Sections 397 and 398.

Revisional court enjoys the powers of a Court of Appeal

While carrying out revision, the High Court or Sessions Judge may
exercise all the powers conferred on a Court of Appeal under Sections
386, 389, 390 and 391 of the CrPC, or on a Court of Sessions under
Section 307 of CrPC.

A revisional court cannot issue an order prejudicial to the party
without hearing the party or his pleader, in his own defence. Revision
of an order cannot be invoked when there is a provision for appeal and
that is not already invoked.

The revisional court can outright dismiss the revision petition if there
is no sufficient ground for interference.

In a revision on acquittal, the court can reverse the order of
acquittal, direct conduct of a further inquiry, order retrial of the
accused, commit him for trial and pass sentence according to law if the
accused is found guilty.

In case of a revision on conviction, the court can reverse the
conviction and sentence and acquit or discharge the accused, or order
him to be retried by the appropriate court.

In a revision for enhancement of sentence, the court can reverse the
finding, and acquit or discharge the accused or order him to be retried
by a competent court. It can maintain the sentence or alter the sentence
so as to enhance or reduce it.

If revision is from any other order, the court can alter or reverse such
order. The court can make any amendment or issue any just and proper

The revisional court has no power to impose greater punishment than that
might have been inflicted by the trial court.

Power of revisional court to grant bail

The revisional court can grant bail of a convicted person if he is in
confinement and his revision against the conviction is pending.

If the conviction is for an offence punishable with death or life or for
not less than 10 years, the prosecution needs to be heard before
granting bail. The court can suspend the execution of sentence as well,
if revision is pending.

HC can direct arrest in acquittal

When a revision of an order of acquittal is considered in revision, the
High Court can order arrest of the accused and bring him before it or a
subordinate court and commit him to prison pending the disposal of the
revision petition.

Revisional court can take additional evidence

To ensure justice, revisional court can take additional evidence in
quite suitable cases. This power is to ensure justice but is not an
arbitrary discretion. This power is to be used only sparingly. The court
shall record its reasons when using this power. This power should not be
used as a disguise for a retrial or to direct fresh disposal of the case
by the trial court.

Revisional court can allow pardon to an accomplice

The revisonal court can tender pardon to an accomplice, who has directly
or indirectly involved in any offence, in order to obtain evidence of a
person accused of an offence.

Limitations of revisional court

A court exercising revision, unlike as in an appeal, cannot convert the
acquittal into one of conviction.

Similarly when a revision is filed to a Session Court no further
revision can be filed in the High Court or vice versa. Therefore a
person aggrieved by an order of revision by a Sessions Judge has no
right to approach the High Court again for revision.

High Court’s power of revision

The revisonal powers of the High Court are very wide. The jurisdiction
of the High Court is discretionary and is used only in exceptional cases
where there is a glaring miscarriage of justice. The revision is a
procedural mechanism to rectify any manifest error in justice

HC can withdraw or transfer revision case

In a joint trial, if one among the accused persons moves the High Court
and any other accused person moves the Sessions Court on the same
matter, the High Court should decide which of the two courts should deal
with the matter. While deciding the matter the High Court should
consider the general convenience of the parties and the importance of
the issues involved. If the High Court transfers the revision petitions
to the Sessions Court and it disposes the petitions no further revision
is possible before the High Court.

Order of the High Court on revision

When the High Court or Sessions Court decides a case in a revision
petition, it shall certify its judgment or order to the court which the
order or sentence appealed against was originally passed.

If the order is to a judicial magistrate it shall be sent through the
Chief Judicial Magistrate and to an Executive Magistrate through the
District Magistrate. The lower court should then make the judgment
conformable to its judgment.


Revision is an exceptional power of the court. It should be exercised
only in extraordinary cases where there is a glaring defect in the
proceedings or there is a manifest error of point of law which would
result in grave miscarriage of justice.