Appellate Jurisdiction of High Court


A high court is mostly an appeals court. It hears appeals from decisions rendered by inferior courts operating within its territorial jurisdiction. In both civil and criminal cases, it has appellate jurisdiction. As a result, a high court’s appeal jurisdiction extends beyond its initial jurisdiction.

Civil Matters

A high court’s civil appellate authority is as follows:
(i) If the amount exceeds the predetermined limit, first appeals from the district courts, additional district courts, and other subordinate courts lie straight to the supreme court on both points of law and fact.
(ii) In instances involving problems of law only (and not questions of fact), second appeals from the district court’s or other subordinate courts’ orders and judgments are heard by the high court.
(iii) Intra-court appeals are allowed by the Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras High Courts. An appeal against a decision made by a single high court judge (whether acting in the original or appellate jurisdiction of the high court) lies to the division bench of the same high court.
(iv) The division bench of the state high court hears appeals from decisions made by administrative and other bodies. The Supreme Court decided in 1997 that the high courts’ writ authority extends to the tribunals. As a result, a party who feels vindicated cannot file a direct appeal against a tribunal’s ruling before the Supreme Court without first appealing to the high courts.

Criminal Matters

A high court’s criminal appellate authority is as follows:
(i) If the sentence is one of imprisonment for more than seven years, appeals from the judgments of the Sessions Court and Additional Sessions Court must be made to the High Court. In addition, regardless of whether the guilty individual files an appeal or not, a death sentence (commonly known as the death penalty) imposed by a sessions court or a second sessions court must be approved by the high court before it may be carried out.
(ii) The appeals from the decisions of the assistant sessions judge, metropolitan magistrate, or other judges (judicial), as stated in certain articles of the Criminal Procedure Code (1973), lie to the high court in particular circumstances.

Between lower courts (such district or magistrate courts) and the highest appellate authority (typically the supreme court), high courts function as the intermediate appeal level in the judicial structure. Their appellate jurisdiction includes the following crucial responsibilities:

  1. Review of Lower Court Decisions: A High Court’s major responsibility is to review and evaluate the judgments rendered by lower courts. Both civil and criminal cases fall under this. Parties that are not pleased with the decisions made by lower courts may appeal to the top court to have their cases reviewed.
  2. Correction of Errors: Legal errors or irregularities that might have happened during the proceedings in lower courts may be corrected by high courts. They are able to correct legal application errors, statutory interpretation faults, and procedural flaws.
  3. Ensuring Legal Consistency: High courts contribute to the uniformity and consistency of legal interpretations within their respective jurisdictions. They offer advice on legal matters and aid in creating precedents that subordinate courts can use.
  4. Protection of Rights: Appellate jurisdiction is an essential tool for defending people’s legal rights. Cases involving infringement of fundamental liberties, constitutional rights, or human rights may be reviewed by high courts.
  5. Resolution of Disputes: High courts also consider appeals pertaining to disputes in a variety of legal sectors, including as civil disputes, family affairs, property disputes, contract disputes, and more. They are important in settling disputes and maintaining the law.
  6. Administrative Law Matters: High courts have the authority to review administrative decisions to make sure that the government is acting legally and in compliance with established processes.
  7. Criminal appeals: The highest courts have the power to hear criminal appeals. Those accused who feel they were wrongfully found guilty or sentenced may appeal their cases to the top court for a new review.
  8. Statutory Appeals: In some countries, the supreme court has the authority to consider certain sorts of appeals that are specified by law, such as challenges involving taxes or labor issues.


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