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Powers of Appellate Court in CPC

Updated: May 5

Powers of Appellate Court in CPC


Power of Appellate court CPC

Navigating the complexities of legal procedures can be daunting, but understanding the powers vested in appellate courts is crucial for ensuring justice is served efficiently and effectively.

Section 107(1)(a) and Rule 24 of Order 41 grant appellate courts the authority to render final decisions on cases, even if the trial court's judgement was based on different grounds.

Additionally, appellate courts possess the power to remand cases under Section 107(1)(b), allowing for further proceedings when essential issues remain unresolved. This ensures that all aspects of a case are thoroughly addressed, promoting fairness and equity in the legal system.

Furthermore, the power to frame issues and refer them for trial, as outlined in Section 107(1)(c) and Rules 25-26, enables appellate courts to ensure that all relevant evidence is considered before making a decision. This facilitates a comprehensive review of the case, leading to more informed judgments.

Section 107(1)(d) provides appellate courts with the discretion to admit additional evidence, subject to certain conditions. This allows for a more thorough examination of the facts and circumstances surrounding a case, contributing to a fair and just resolution.

Moreover, Rule 33 grants appellate courts the authority to modify decrees as necessary to achieve justice between the parties involved. This ensures that the appellate court can address any discrepancies or issues that may arise during the appeal process.

Finally, Section 107(2) reinforces the concept that an appeal is a continuation of a suit, granting appellate courts the same powers as original courts. This ensures continuity and consistency in the legal process, promoting fairness and equity for all parties.


Power to Decide a Case Finally

Section 107(1)(a) and Rule 24 of Order 41 empower the appellate court to render a final decision on a case. Even if the trial court's judgement was based on different grounds, if the evidence available is sufficient for the appellate court to make a judgement, it can do so conclusively.

This means that the appellate court can determine the case without sending it back to the trial court, even if the trial court's decision was based on different reasoning.

The principle behind this provision is to promote efficiency in the judicial process. It aims to avoid unnecessary delays and ensure that cases are resolved expeditiously.

Remanding cases for further evidence or reconsideration can prolong litigation and inconvenience the parties involved. Therefore, the appellate court is encouraged to make a final decision based on the existing evidence whenever possible.

Fragmentary decisions, where cases are not conclusively resolved, are seen as inconvenient and detrimental to the administration of justice. By rendering final judgments, the appellate court helps bring closure to disputes and allows parties to move forward without further uncertainty.

Power to Remand

Remand refers to sending a case back to a lower court for further proceedings. Rule 23 of Order 41 allows for remand when the trial court has decided a suit based only on a preliminary point, and the appellate court reverses this decision.

This remand directs the lower court to address other issues and determine the suit accordingly. Rule 23-A, introduced in 1976, extends the appellate court's power to remand cases where the lower court decided the matter on its merits, but the appellate court deems remand necessary in the interest of justice.

Remand orders direct the trial court to reopen and retry the case based on the appellate court's directions. To order a remand, certain conditions must be met:

  1. The suit must have been disposed of by the trial court on a preliminary point. This means the lower court's decision was based on a point of law or fact sufficient to dispose of the entire suit without further proceedings.

  2. The decree under appeal must have been reversed. The appellate court cannot order remand unless it reverses the lower court's decision on the preliminary point.

  3. Rule 23-A allows remand even when the lower court disposed of the case on grounds other than a preliminary point, if the appellate court deems it necessary in the interests of justice.

Power to Frame Issues and Refer Them for Trial

When the lower court fails to frame any issue, try any issue, or determine any essential question of fact necessary for the suit's proper decision on merits, the appellate court can intervene. It has the authority to frame issues and refer them for trial to the lower court.

Additionally, the appellate court can direct the lower court to gather any additional evidence required. The lower court is then tasked with trying these issues and returning the evidence and findings within a time specified by the appellate court.

The evidence and findings obtained through this process become part of the suit's record. Either party involved can file a memorandum of objections to any of the lower court's findings within a time stipulated by the appellate court.

Subsequently, the appellate court must hear the entire appeal, and the hearing should not be limited to the specific points for which the findings were sought. This ensures that all aspects of the case are thoroughly considered during the appeal process, even those issues identified and referred for trial by the appellate court.


Power to Take Additional Evidence

Typically, the appellate court decides appeals based on the evidence presented in the trial court and does not entertain additional evidence. Rule 27(1) explicitly prohibits parties from producing additional evidence in the appellate court.

Section 107(1)(d) provides an exception to this rule, allowing the appellate court to take additional evidence or require its production, subject to the conditions outlined in Rule 27 of Order 41.

"Additional evidence" does not refer to evidence beyond that presented in the lower court. Instead, it pertains to evidence that couldn't be produced in the trial court due to specific circumstances outlined in the Code.

The discretion to admit additional evidence lies with the appellate court, guided by principles of justice. This power should be exercised judiciously.

Rule 27 lists conditions under which the appellate court may admit additional evidence:

  1. If the lower court improperly refused to admit evidence that should have been accepted.

  2. If the evidence wasn't known to the party or couldn't have been produced despite diligent efforts when the lower court made its decision.

  3. If the appellate court deems the evidence necessary for its judgement or for any other substantial reason.

The Supreme Court, in Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil v. Mahesh Madhav Gosavi, emphasised three principles for admitting additional evidence:

  1. The party seeking to introduce additional evidence must demonstrate that it couldn't have been presented earlier despite best efforts.

  2. The opposing party should have an opportunity to challenge the additional evidence.

  3. The additional evidence must be relevant to the issue at hand.

Power to Modify Decree

Rule 33 of Order 41 grants the appellate court the authority to issue any order it deems appropriate. This includes decisions regarding the appellant and respondent, as well as among different respondents. The rule not only allows the appellate court to grant or deny relief to the appellant but also provides the flexibility to offer relief to any respondent as necessary.

The primary aim of Rule 33 is to ensure that the appellate court can deliver comprehensive justice between the parties involved.

While the appellate court's power under Rule 33 is discretionary, it is essential to exercise this discretion judiciously. The court should prioritise rendering complete justice over technicalities and should not hesitate to address all relevant questions.

There are no fixed criteria dictating when this power should or should not be exercised, as each case is unique and must be assessed based on its individual circumstances.

Other Powers: Section 107(2)

Section 107(2) of the Code stipulates that in addition to the powers explicitly mentioned, an appellate court possesses the same powers as an original court. This provision reflects the fundamental concept that an appeal is essentially a continuation of a suit.

Consequently, an appellate court retains the authority to take actions during the pendency of an appeal that an original court would have been empowered to undertake while the suit was ongoing. This ensures continuity in the legal process and allows the appellate court to address matters comprehensively in the pursuit of justice.


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