Appellate Jurisdiction: The Powers of Appellate Court

Positioned in the country’s capital, the Supreme Court is the highest branch of the judicial system in India. Sitting at the top of the hierarchy, the honourable court exercises various types of jurisdictions such as:

  • Original jurisdiction of Supreme Court- The court acts as the guardian of law
  • Appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court- The court acknowledges and analyses appeals from various lower courts and is known as the final court that entertains appeals and passes judgments.
  • Writ Petitions – The court issues writs when fundamental rights get infringed
  • Advisory Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court- The court is granted a power where they come into a position to advise the president when law questions arise.

The supreme court is mainly known for exercising appellate jurisdiction as the final authority to pass judgments on appeals.

Appeals from all the courts present in every corner of the country, if not resolved or dismissed in lower courts, head to the highest court of appeals for marking the final judgement on the cases the appeal is for.

The entire concept of the appellate jurisdiction of the supreme gets encompassed within Articles 132 and 133 of the Indian Constitution 1950 to Section 109 and 112 of the Civil procedural code.

The definition- Appellate Jurisdiction

Under many jurisdictions, the supreme court extends, the appellate jurisdiction is the most important one and the most useful for the citizens. With the help of this jurisdiction, a person, after being dissatisfied with the judgement passed in the lower courts, can approach the supreme court to seek a better solution.

In the appellate jurisdiction, the highest authority in the judiciary, upon receiving the appeal, reviews and revises the judgments passed by the lower courts and then gives out a decree. This process strikes down the misinterpretations of the law and facts. It gives the appellant another opportunity to seek satisfaction concerning the case, which the lower courts could not provide.

The conditions- Appeals to the Supreme Court.

To file an appeal to the Supreme Court, specific requisites need to get fulfilled, which are as follows:

  • A judgement, decree or order must be given by the high court with a certificate under Articles 132(1), 133(1) accompanied with Article 134 of the Indian Constitution
  • The issues in the respective case must contain a substantial question of law
  • The high court must believe that the particular case should be dealt with by the Supreme court only

The division- Appellate jurisdiction

The appellate jurisdiction of the supreme court further gets categorised into four aspects:

Criminal Cases

It is possible to make an appeal to the supreme court against any judgement, order or decree passed in a High court in a criminal proceeding under the following situations:

  • If the high court reverses an appeal through an order of acquittal of the accused and sentenced the person to death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for ten years
  • If the high court withdraws a trial before itself regarding any case and sentences, the accused is sentenced to death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for ten years.
  • If the high court certifies that a case should be dealt with by the supreme court only
  • If the high court convicts an accused on trial under its extraordinary original criminal jurisdiction

However, it’s essential to note that an appeal to the supreme court cannot get filed if the high court convicts an accused of a crime for which the punishment does not exceed six months or a fine exceeding INR 1000 or both.

Constitutional Cases

It is possible to appeal to the supreme court if the high court finds that

  • A case entails a substantial question of law
  • A case has essential aspects which are related to the constitution
  • The Supreme Court being the parent of the constitution, cases that involve the need to interpret the constitution in the right way need to be dealt with by the country’s highest judicial authority.

Civil Cases

  • Under article 133 of the constitution, appeals for a civil suit from the high court can be found. Mentioned in the section are also the essential requisites for the fulfilment of the same.

Special Leave Petition

  • As the name suggests, a special leave petition is a petition to file for an appeal before the Supreme Court. It requires special permission to file an appeal opposing any verdict passed by a lower court.

    Once the special leave petition gets filed, it is up to the court whether to hear it or not. If the court deems it fit, the petition gets converted into an appeal followed by a judgement by the supreme court exercising its appellate jurisdiction.

    The leave only gets granted if the case involves a substantial question of law.

The difference- Judgement, Decree, Final Order


The Civil Procedure Code’s Section 2(9) defines a judgement as,

A statement made by a judge based on a decree and/or an order given in the court of law. It is a stage before granting a Decree.

The essentials of a judgement are as follows:

  • It contains a laconic statement about the case
  • It includes points for determination
  • It consists of the decision that is to get followed from thereon
  • It includes the reasons backing the decision made


Defined under Civil Procedure Code’s section 2(2)

A formal expression of adjudication is known as a Decree. As per the court, this expression emphasises the parties’ rights of all or any issues present in the case.

A decree can only get passed in a suit presented before the court via a plaint

The essentials of a Decree is as follows:

  • It contains a formal expression of a decision
  • It includes an adjudication with regards to a suit filed before the court
  • It includes a brief elaboration of the rights of the parties of all/any issues in the case
  • It consists of a conclusive judgement

Types of Decree

  • Preliminary- Under the preliminary decree, rights and liabilities of the concerned parties get emphasised; however, the actual outcome is to be decided by the court in further proceedings.
  • Final- Under the final decree, a final statement regarding the judgment before disposing of the case is given.
  • Partly final/preliminary decree– Under somewhat final/preliminary decree, a final statement is given on one of the two questions that have come before the court by the same decree. The other issue is left to get resolved in the upcoming proceedings.


Defined under Section 2(14) of the Civil Procedure Code

An order is a formal expression made by the court which is anything but a decree.

It can be passed multiple times in a case, unlike a judgement or a decree.

To direct the court and the party in a particular way is called an order.

The Procedure- Hearing and Proceedings

Certificate of Fitness
When it comes to appellate jurisdiction, a party can file an appeal to the supreme court without any obstacle, only if the High court provides the party with a certificate of fitness that marks the appellant valid to present an appeal before the court of appeals.

The certificate is granted based on:

  • If the High Court deems it fit to be given to the party based on its discretion
  • If the aggrieved party or anyone on their behalf, post the passing of an order/judgement/decree, makes an oral statement before the court, requesting such a certificate. If the court finds it valid, they grant the party the document

Security and Deposit

Security gets defined under Order XLV Rule 7 of the Civil Procedure Code

Security is when the certificate of appeal is granted, the appellant within 90 days or 60 days if a good reason is given before the court, must:

  • Pay security in cash or government securities for the respondent’s cost
  • Deposit for the expenses related to translation, print, transmitting etc
  • Provide the supreme court with the correct copy of documents of the whole suit except:
    • Documents told to be excluded by any rule/order of the supreme court in force then
    • Formal papers which are, by the parties, agreed to be excluded
    • Accounts or any part of the same, which, by a court-appointed officer, marked irrelevant hence has told to exclude
    • Any other formal documents which, by the high court, is said to be excluded

Admission of Appeal:

The procedure of admission gets defined under Order XLV Rule 8 of the Civil Procedure Court

Post the deposit made by the appellant, when satisfied with the payment, the court of law shall:

  • Make an official declaration of the admission of appeal
  • Send the respondent a notice of such admission.
  • Provide a copy of the said case to the Supreme court, except if told otherwise
  • Send either party one or more than one copy of any documents listed in the suit only if an application is made for the same and they incur a reasonable price for preparing such copies.

The Effect- Constitutional Amendment

The 44th amendment of the constitution brought in numerous developments and changed the outlook of several aspects, including the justice system. This amendment was the sole reason behind the creation of Article 134A.

Before the development, the constitution had no provision regarding how and when an application of issuing a certificate by the high court under articles 132, 133 and 134 needed to get filed.

Article 134A, when read with Articles 132, 133, and as well as Article 134 of Indian Constitution, to streamline the high court’s grant of certificates for an appeal made to the supreme court states that:

Every high court gives a judgement, decree, final order or a sentence concerning the appellate jurisdiction. It exercises under articles 132, 133, and 134 under any civil or criminal case involving a substantial law question. It can determine whether a certificate of fitness for the appeal to the supreme court should be given or not.

It is also said that:

The court is only required to consider granting certification of fitness only if the aggrieved party has made an oral appeal to the court of law immediately after order, judgment, or decree gets passed.

The difference between High Court and Supreme Court

The High Court

  • Known as the highest judicial authority in a state
  • The chief justice of the state heads it
  • With the total of 24 high courts prevailing in India, only three of them have jurisdiction in states apart from their own
  • Under its jurisdiction, the high court has supervision over all the courts
  • Appointed by the president of India, post the consultation with the Chief justice of India and the governor of that particular state, are the judges of the high court
  • The age limit of a high court judge is 62 years

The Supreme Court

  • Known as the highest judicial authority in the entire country
  • The chief justice of India heads it
  • An authority like the Supreme court is the only one in India
  • All the judiciary courts and tribunals of India are under the supervision of the Supreme court
  • Appointed by the president of India are the judges of the Supreme court
  • The age restriction for a supreme court judge is 65 years

Powers of a Supreme Court:

The powers of the supreme court are as follows:

Original Jurisdiction

  • As per article 131 of the Indian Constitution, the supreme court, as it has original jurisdiction, can deal with matters where disputes arise either between the central government and state government or between two or more state governments.
  • As per article 139 of the Indian Constitution, the supreme court can issue writs, orders and judgments.
  • Article 32 of the Indian Constitution elaborated that the supreme court, being the highest judicial authority in the country, has the power to enforce fundamental rights.
  • As per Article 139A of the Indian Constitution, the supreme court, either on its own or at the suggestion of the Attorney general of India, can take on cases from high courts which involve a substantial question of law only. It also has the power to transfer a case from one high court to another.

Appellate Jurisdiction

  • As per article 132,133 and Article 134 of the Indian constitution, the supreme court can deal with civil, criminal or constitutional matters with appellate jurisdiction.
  • As per article 136 of the Indian constitution, the supreme court also can issue special leave petitions.

Advisory jurisdiction

  • According to Article 143 of the Indian Constitution, the supreme court, as it has advisory jurisdiction, can advise the president of India on matters that either involves a question of law or has an issue associated with public importance.
  • The president of India can seek the supreme court’s opinion in matters associated with article 131 of the Indian constitution.

Review Jurisdiction

  • As per article 137 of the Indian Constitution, the supreme court has reviewed jurisdiction and has the power to review any law passed by the legislature.

Case Laws Involving Appellate Jurisdiction

Navtej Singh Johar vs Union Of India, 2018

In 2016, Navtej Singh Johar and five other members of the LQBTQ community filed a writ petition in the highest court of appeals in India. They challenged the constitutionality of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

With numerous contentions and arguments, it was decided, on September 6th, 2018, that striking down section 377 was the right way to go. The section got repealed to legally allow the LQBTQ individuals to engage in consensual intercourse and indulge in sexual relations of their choice.

Joseph Shine vs Union Of India, 2018

In 2018, after a writ petition filed by Joseph Shine that challenged the constitutionality of section 497 of the Indian Penal Code got repealed by the Supreme Court. Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, criminalised adultery which was struck down by the highest authority of the judiciary as termed to be archaic and arbitrary.


From exercising Original Jurisdiction to Review jurisdiction, the Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority in the country and the top court that deals with appeals. Be it reversing, repealing or creating laws, the supreme court works to better the country’s scenarios.

With all the necessary requisites fulfilled, as filing an appeal in the supreme court under the appellate jurisdiction is a matter of privilege and not right, the highest court appeals ensure that no case leaves the courtroom without justice getting served.

FAQs Regarding Appellate Jurisdiction

What is the time limit for filing an appeal to the supreme court under appellate jurisdiction?

60 days from the date of grant of certificate by the High Court

Can a decision made by the Supreme Court get challenged?

Yes, the aggrieved party can file a review petition about the case

Who can reverse a judgement of the Supreme Court?

The President

What happens if the Supreme Court denies an appeal?

If denied by the Supreme Court, the decision made by the lower court stands.

What is the most common basis for appealing?

  • Improper exclusion or admission of evidence
  • Incorrect jury decisions
  • Lack of decisions to support or deny someone of a crime
  • Sentencing errors
  • False arrest
  • Prosecution misconduct
  • Ineffective assistance of the counsel

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