What Happens When a Judge Makes a Wrong Decision?

Mr. Wilt Chamberlain has rightly said that “no one is perfect.” The same is true also with regard to the judges. Their judgments are not infallible. There are possibilities of mistake and misunderstanding despite given all the arrangements to guarantee a fair hearing and a correct judgment. In India, there are three tiers Judiciary System i.e. District Courts, High Courts, and the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. The criminal justice process has some serious effect on the life of an individual especially on the right to life and personal freedom. Each and every human-built entity is vulnerable to fallibility, thus this also relates to court-rendered judgments. Therefore specific provisions should be in place to scrutinize the decisions of the subordinate courts in order to avoid the scope of the miscarriage of justice. When a judge makes a wrong decision it is termed as “mistake of law”. Examples of errors that can be made by a judge include incorrectly disregarding key evidence, wrongly deciding a matter, or give the jury incorrect instructions at any stage of the trial. No judge can profess that he or she has never declared a “wrong order”. The bench comprising J. Deepak Gupta and J. Aniruddha Bose while quashing all the orders issued against a judicial officer in a disciplinary proceeding observed that “disciplinary proceedings against judges should not be initiated solely on the basis that they have issued an incorrect order or simply on the ground that the order is inaccurate”. The Apex Court stated that “Judicial independence is ‘sacrosanct,’ and if the misconduct, gratification for any kind and foreign influences are not clearly alleged, a disciplinary process should not be opened simply on the grounds that a court official has made an incorrect order”. Therefore, to make sure that the claimant of the case may not experience any damage and the community is not brought into danger because of some form of error or misunderstanding by the judges concerned, the statute provides for the provisions of appeal and review under which the cases involved may be reheard by the higher court to offer any practicable relief to individual aggrieved by the adjudication of the court. The provision of appeal and review is applicable before all three courts, depending on which court’s order is challenged.

In the Code of Criminal Procedure, the provisions relating to appeal are contained in Sections 372 to 394 while provisions relating to revision are contained in Sections 397 to 405. In the Code of Civil Procedure, the provisions relating to appeal are contained in Sections 96 to 112 while provisions relating to revision are contained in Section 115.

Appeal basically means a case that is filed to a higher court in order to make the correction in the decision of the subordinate court. “An appeal is a complaint to a higher court of injustice done or mistake committed by a subordinate one, whose verdict or decision is to be amended or overturned by the court in dispute”. In Akalu v. Ram Deo, it was observed that “A right of appeal is not an intrinsic or universal right. It is a legal right, and must be governed by the statute that grants it”. In this way, the losing party has the opportunity to get the decision reviewed by other independent judges.  The court that determines an appeal will correct the errors made by the subordinate court and endeavor to arrive at correct decisions as far as possible. Appeal court rulings are fully reasoned, readily accessible, and don’t necessarily hold their punches. In the case of Arun Kumar V. State of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court held that “Where the High Court noticed that the opinion held by the Sessions Judge to acquit the appellants was nevertheless manifestly false and it also contributed to a miscarriage of justice then the High Court was indeed right to set aside this acquittal and convict them”. In the case of Satya Pal Singh V. State of Madhya Pradesh, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that “The victim’s parent has a locus standi to submit an appeal under Section 372 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to the High Court as he falls under the definition of “victim” to challenge the validity of the judgment and the order of acquittal of the accused”. In the case of Dharnadas, the court held that, “Where the subordinate court fails to observe the essential facts or evidence in adjudicating the case which results in a wrong decision or a lack of justice”.

However, there are some circumstances in which no right of appeal exists. The legislatures kept this in mind and introduced the concept of review procedure named revision in the statute to fully prevent the deprivation of justice even for such situations where the right to appeal had been prohibited by the statue. Revision is the act of examining again in order to remove any error or grant relief against non-uniform or improper exercise or non-exercise of jurisdiction by a subordinate court. Revision simple means re-working and re-writing. Revision stands for the process of revising, especially critical or attentive examination or perusal with an object to correcting or improving. “A reason for a review may be deemed sufficient by the Supreme Court, such as if there has been a misapprehension of the true condition of the situation or the party has been given no fair opportunity to submit a statement or evidence, or notice has not been sent to the party, or a fact or evidence has not been taken into consideration by the Court, or the court has omitted the legal provisions. In Pranab Kumar v. State of West Bengal, the court held that “the revision power does not create any right to the litigant but it only conserves the power of High Court to do that justice in accordance with the law”.  The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Amit Kapoor V. Ramesh Chander & Anr held that “The revisional jurisdiction can be resort to where the verdict under challenge is miserably erroneous, there is no compliance with the provisions of law, and the finding founded is based on no evidence, relevant evidence is omitted or judicial power is exercised unfairly or perversely”. In the case of St. of Rajasthan V. Fatehkaran Mehdu held that “the primary purpose of provision of revision is to correct a patent defect or errors of jurisdiction or law, or the perversity which shrank in the proceedings”.

In the case of Hari Shanker V. Rao Girdhari Lal Choudhary, the Supreme Court highlighted the difference between appeal and revision as, “The difference between an appeal and an appeal is true. A right to appeal has the right to re-examine law and fact unless the law conferred on the right of appeal limits re-examination, as we can see, in second appeals under the Code of Civil Procedure. A superior court usually has the power to hear a trial so that it can show that a specific case is settled in fact”. Therefore, the appeal is a legal right conferred on parties whereas revision depends entirely on the discretion of the court which simply means it is not a right as such.


It can thus be clearly evident that through the provisions of appeals and revision a victim gets an opportunity to get any legal or factual mistake in any verdict or judgment corrected. Nevertheless, appeals against any judgment or verdict or sentence of a criminal court can only be tendered when it has been specifically given in the statutes. The powers bestowed to victims of crime revision and appeals are highly significant and applicable to the justice system. The revision process has since been introduced into the judicial framework in order to remedy mistakes and avoid miscarriages of justice. Such provisions allow the victims an equal opportunity to be heard and repeat their argument but it should be noted that an offender might still appeal for clear reasons. The purpose of these provisions is to make judicial prosecutions unfailing so that no one is incorrect. In real reality, of course, it is a different matter, but at least to see if such laws work and to guarantee swift and equal courts brings faith to the judicial system regardless of numerous backlogs of prosecutions and corruption.

This article is written by Mili Gupta, student of B.A.LL( 5th year) at Banasthali Vidhyapet

Also Read: How To Make Complaint Against Police?

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