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Reference and Revision: A comparative Study

The legal definitions of reference and revision differ, but they all serve the same purpose is mainly to ensure that justice is delivered. The reference is for approaching higher courts of law on pending matters.

Revision is the process of reviewing or changing any errors committed after the final judgement has been delivered. The High Court's revisional jurisdiction is fairly broad.

In general, revision is entirely up to the criminal court's discretion. Sections 397 to 405 of the Criminal Process Law discuss all of the powers of revision assigned to the high court, as well as the procedure for exercising such powers. In order to safeguard the fairness and accuracy of the court system, the Civil Process Law includes procedures for reference, review, and amendment.

Sections 395 to 405 of the Criminal Process Code of 1973 deal with the higher courts' powers of reference and revision; these powers are discretionary and wide. The appeal courts have the authority to correct any errors in justice.

Criminal justice has major consequences in every individual's life, whether it is the right to life or personal liberty. Nobody is perfect. No person is flawless. Every human being makes blunders by nature. Likewise, the judge is human and might make errors. Even judges are human and can make mistakes while carrying out their duty. The judicial system's ultimate purpose is to provide justice. No one's fundamental rights are violated until they are involved in a criminal prosecution, in which case they have the right to appeal the court's decision.

Our legal system is divided into three levels: lower courts, upper courts, and the Supreme Court. All revision and review provisions have always been governed by law and can be found in all three courts.

The concepts of reference and revision have been added in Sections 113 and 115 of the Civil Code of Procedure. Despite their diverse meanings, these phrases all have the same meaning.

Reference - In Indian Law.
Basic Meaning:
Reference is defined as to transfer or send something is defined as a reference. It is a case between two major courts in which the lower court requests the high court's ruling on an act, ordinance, or rule.

Grounds of Reference:
  • The question of the legality of a provision of law must have arisen.
  • The lower court believes that such Act, ordinance, regulation, or provision is invalid or ineffective as determined by the High Court or Supreme Court.
  • Reference shall be made only on a point of law, which must have arisen during the course of the case's hearing.

Purpose behind Reference:
The major purpose of including the reference provisions is to allow lower courts to acquire the High Court's view in non-appealable cases.

Provisions also ensure that the validity of a legislative provision (Act, Ordinance, or

Regulation) is interpreted and resolved by the state's highest court. As a result, prior to delivering judgement in the matter, reference must be made.

Reference Under Civil Procedure Code:
  • Parties through an application can move the reference to the High court.
  • The reference in the Civil Process Code is found in Section 113 and Order 46.
  • The definition of the reference, its goal, its circumstances, who may apply, the power of the referring court, the power of the High Court, and so on.

Reference Under Criminal Procedure Code:
Sections 395-405 of Chapter XXX discussed reference and revision under CrPC.

The Criminal Process Code sections 395 and 396 deal with references. In general, a reference is a legal method of submitting a trial court application to the High Court for an interpretation of an Act, Law, or Regulation.

Section 395 allows the matter to be referred to the High Court if it concerns any question related to any of the Acts, Regulations, Ordinances, or Statutes required to determine and dispose of a case.

Nature & Scope of Section 395 - 396 of Criminal Procedure Code =
A reference is defined in sections 395-396 of the CrPC. Section 395 defines a connection as where the matter is before the trial court and involves a problem that is relevant for the resolution of a criminal prosecution, such as the legitimacy of a Law, Order, or Act or the requirements of a Law, Ordinance, or any Act. Such an Act, regulation, or order may be invalid or unconstitutional, but it has not been declared so by a higher court, such as the Supreme Court or the High Court.

Who can apply for Reference
A subordinate court refer the case to the high court based on its own opinion.
  • Section 395: Reference to high court
    1. Where a Court is satisfied that a case pending before it involves a question as to the validity of any Act, Ordinance, or Regulation, or of any provision contained in an Act, Ordinance, or Regulation, the determination of which is required for the disposition of the case, and is of the opinion that such Act, Ordinance, Regulation, or provision is invalid or inoperative, but has not been so declared by the High Court to which that Court is subordinate, or by the Supreme Court, the Court shall state a case setting out its opinion and the reasons therefore, and refer the same for the decision of the High Court.
    2. A Court of Session or a Metropolitan Magistrate may, in any case pending before it or him to which the provisions of Sub-Section (1) do not apply, submit any point of law arising in the hearing of such case to the High Court for decision.
    3. Any Court making a reference to the High Court under Subsection (1) or (2) may, pending the High Court's decision, either commit the accused to jail or free him on bail to attend when asked.
  • Section 396: of Criminal Procedure Code deals with Disposal of case according to the decision of High Court.
  • Section 397: Calling for records to exercise powers of revision:
    1. For the purposes of this subsection and Section 398, the Sessions Judge must always be regarded as superior to all Magistrates, whether Executive or Judicial, or whether exercising original or appellate authority.
    2. The revisionary authority given by subsection (1) is not applicable to any interlocutory orders made during any appeal, investigation, trial, or another proceeding.
    3. After submitting an application under this section to either the High Court or the Sessions Judge, the same individual may not submit another application to any one of them.
  • Section 398: Power to order inquiry:
    The High Court or the Sessions Judge may give permission for an additional investigation into a complaint that has been dismissed in accordance with section 203 or subsection (4) of section 204, or into the circumstances of a person accused of an offence who has been found not guilty after a hearing as defined by section 397 or another provision.

    Provided that no Court shall make any direction under this section for inquiry into the case of any person who has been discharged unless such person has had an opportunity of showing cause why such direction should not be made.
Case Laws on Reference:
  1. Banarsi Yadav vs Krishna Chandra Dass1:
    In this case, it was decided that when there is a plausible dispute about an Act's constitutionality, a lower court may refer the case to the Supreme Court.
  2. A Sreenivasa Rao and Ors vs. Govt of Andra Pradesh 2:
The subordinate court lacked the authority to determine the legality of any Act, Ordinance, or Regulation. As a result, Section 113 requires the subordinate court to refer the ongoing case to the High Court for resolution of the legality issue that is necessary for the case to be resolved.

Revision - In Indian Law.
Basic Meaning:
Revision is the process of an upper court reviewing a subordinate court's order in order to correct an incorrect exercise of judicial power. In layman's terms, revision is a type of supervisory power.

Grounds for Revision:
  • The two major reasons for revision are civil revision and criminal revision.
  • In both pending and concluded matters, revision might be brought before a High Court or a Court of Session.
  • The power of revision shall not be used in the case of an interlocutory or interim order issued in the course of an appeal, inquiry, trial, or other procedure.

Purpose behind Revision:
The primary goal of revision is to assess the correctness and constitutionality of any proceeding before a lower court. Revision keeps the lower courts within their authority and then makes the lower courts act in accordance with a well-defined principal law. The primary goal of revision is to correct a jurisdictional or legal error.

Revision under Civil Procedure Code:
  • Revision under Civil Procedure of Code is defined under Section 115. Revision only lies to high court when the subordinate court either fail to exercise the jurisdiction or either acted on the jurisdiction in an illegal manner.
  • The courts which are inferior to higher courts they do not have any power of revision.

Revision under Code of Criminal Procedure:
  • The term "revision" is not defined in the 1973 Criminal Procedure Law. Articles 397� 405 of the Criminal Process Code, on the other hand, define the High Court's and Session Court's revisional jurisdiction.
  • Under Criminal Procedure Code, section 397, 400 and 401 deals with the powers of revision of session judge, additional session judge and High court.The section 397 and section 402 of Criminal Procedure Code are some what inter linked together and hence read together.
  • Both section 397 and section 398 talks about revisional jurisdiction.
  • Section 397: As per section 397 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, talks about calling for record to exercise the power of revision.
  • Section 398: As per section 398 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, talks about power to order inquiry.
  • Sections 399-400: The Sessions Judge has the power to revise any decision and may call additional Sessions Judges to revise the decision.
  • Section 401: As per Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, High Court's power of revision.
  • Section 402: The High Court is also empowered to transfer or withdraw the revision cases.

  1. Any record call or come into knowledge, High court exercise any of the power of section 386, 389, 390, 391 or on a court of session by section 307 and, when the Judges composing the Court of revision are equally divided in opinion, the case shall be disposed of in the manner provided by section 392.
  2. No order under this section shall be made to the prejudice of the accused or other person unless he has had an opportunity of being heard.
  3. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to authorise a High Court to convert a finding of acquittal into one of conviction.
  4. Where under this Code an appeal lies and no appeal is brought, no proceeding by way of revision shall be entertained at the instance of the party who could have appealed.

Case Laws of Revision:
  • Amit Kapoor vs. Ramesh Chander 3:
    The Hon'ble supreme court of India in this case, stated that:
    "The jurisdiction conferred on the Court under section 397 may be exercised to inquire into the legality, correctness or propriety of an order or judgment passed by the lower court or any lower court."
  • Mohd. Afzal vs. Noor Nisha Begum 4:
    In this case:
    "The court held that it is mandatory for the Sessions Judge and it is established law that when the power of revision is exercised, the accused or the said person should be given an opportunity of being heard."

Comparison Between Revision and Reference:
Reference Revision
It is defined under Chapter XXX of the Criminal Procedure Code. It is defined under Chapter XXX of the Criminal Procedure Code.
It is defined from Section 395-396 of the Criminal Procedure Code. It is defined from Section 397-402 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Reference occurs while the case is still pending in the court. The revision begins under the final judgment or final order or final decision of the court.
Reference is made to the higher court on the points of the law. Revision is made to both higher and lower court on the already adjudicated matter.
In terms of law, reference and revision are distinct, yet they all serve the same purpose: to ensure that justice is delivered.

The reference is for contacting higher courts of law on pending matters. Revision is the process of reviewing or changing any errors committed after the final judgement has been delivered.

The High Court's revisional jurisdiction is quite broad. It has inherent powers to deal with revision cases that are applicable to both substantive and procedural problems, but it does not have the authority to re-examine any of the evidence.

The procedures for reference and revision offered by the Code of Civil Process differ slightly from those provided by the Code of Criminal Procedure, allowing the court to work more efficiently for the fairness of the judicial system even when there is no provision for appeal.

When a matter is decided in the Court and the judge issues a decree or order, there may be circumstances in which there was a mistake or error, or a party is offended by the order or decree, or there may be conditions in which the subordinate court is doubtful on such subject of law.

Furthermore, once a judgement is issued, it cannot be changed by the same court.

So, the provision of reference and revision have been inserted under the legal system to avoid a miscarriage of justice.

References: Written By: Simran Jethani, B.A LL. B (Div.B), Year - 5th - Ajeenkya DY Patil University, Pune

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