Revision under CrPC


Section 397 to 405 deal with the powers of revision. Section 397 to 401 are interlinked and should be read together. These sections empower the superior courts to pass suitable orders to remove the miscarriage of justice. The basic objective of the revisional jurisdiction is to confer upon superior criminal courts, a kind of supervisory jurisdiction.  Revisional court can act either on its own that is it can call upon inferior court to provide records in order to find the correctness of the judgement given and to check that no court becomes arbitrary and tries to work out of its own jurisdiction; or it can be brought to the knowledge of the revisional court by a stranger, that a matter was overseen which may be an important part for the whole case and hence should be considered. Here the information from a stranger does not restrict to human interaction, a court can take action or interfere in a case if the facts are gained from a newspaper, or an anonymous letter or postcard, a placard; anything can form a ground for the information and may lead to investigation by the court.  Revisional power is necessary so that if any error or defect arises due to misconception of law or misreading of evidence then it may be taken into consideration and measures could be taken so that it does not lead to undue hardship or leniency.


Section 397 of the Criminal procedure code explains about the power to call and examine the record of proceedings before any subordinate court.

EXPLANATION: Under S. 397 (1), the High court or any Sessions judge may call for the examination of the record of any inferior criminal court within its local jurisdiction in order to make sure that the decisions taken are correct and are in the line of proper justice. Under this all the Magistrates, whether executive or judicial and whether exercising original or appellate jurisdiction, shall be deemed or considered to be inferior to the sessions judge for the purpose of this sub section and section 398.

EXPLANATION: Under S.397 (2), the power of revision given to the courts cannot be exercised in case of interlocutory order passed in any appeal, inquiry, trial or proceeding. Here, the interlocutory order can be understood as an order that are issued by the court while the case is still ongoing that is the order other than the final decision.

EXPLANATION: Under S.397 (3), if a revision application is made by any person in either the High court or to the sessions judge and a final and conclusive decision is made by any of them, no further application by the same person will be taken into consideration by the other. It is believed that if a person is given an opportunity to choose between the two that is to either approach the High court or the Sessions Judge and he chooses to go to any one of them then later in time he cannot approach the other court to carry on revisional powers for the same case.

Example– If A has filed a revision petition against B under Section 397 of CrPC and it has been rejected by the Court of Sessions; he is barred from filing a revision petition again in the High Court. But if such petition is accepted and A gets relief, then a revision petition can still be filed by B in the High Court of appropriate jurisdiction.

*Here it must be noted that the restriction to file another application is valid till the time the applicant is the same person.


Section 398 deals with the power to order enquiry. In this section on examining any record under section 397 or otherwise, the High Court or the Sessions Judge may direct the Chief Judicial Magistrate by himself or by any of the Magistrate subordinate to him to make, and the Chief Judicial Magistrate may himself make or direct any subordinate Magistrate to make, further inquiry into any complaint which has been dismissed under section 203 or sub- section (4) of section 204, or into the case of any person accused of an offence who has been discharged: 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.


This section deals with Sessions Judge’s powers of revision.

EXPLANATION: Under S.399 (1), the sessions judge is given all the powers that are given to the High court under Section 401 (1). The sessions judge can apply or practice any power given under it according to the requirement of the case.

EXPLANATION: Under S.399 (2), the sessions judge is required to follow the same provisions that are followed by the High court under Section 401 (2) (3) (4) and (5) when a revisional proceeding is commenced. The explanations of each and every sub-section is mentioned below where the power of High court is explained.

EXPLANATION: Under S.399 (3), it is mentioned that if an application of revision is made by a person in front of the Sessions Judge and a decision is given then it is considered to be final and no proceedings can take place for the same in the high court. As, under Section 397 it is explicitly mentioned that can person can either choose the high court or the sessions judge to decide on the revision application and if the person make a choice to go with the sessions judge then his decision is final.


Under Section 400 an Additional Sessions Judge shall have and may exercise all the powers of a Sessions Judge under this chapter in respect of any case which may be transferred to him by or under any general or special order of the Sessions Judge.

This section gives powers to the Additional Session judge that include the power to dispose off an application for condoning the delay in a case transferred to him by the session judge, even if such application is filed after transfer.


EXPLANATION: Under S.401 (1), the court is given the authority to exercise the power of revision suo moto apart from the application from a party. The High court may receive an application by a person or may itself call a case for revision and the proceedings will take place according to the powers conferred on Court of Appeal by Sections 386, 389, 390 and 391 or on a Court of Session by Section 307.

The section further explains that when the judges are equally divided in a court of revision then the final decision and disposal of case is done in the manner as mentioned under Section 392.

EXPLANATION: Under S.401 (2), it is mentioned or explained that it is very necessary for the court to hear what both the sides have to say and they must be given equal opportunities to speak their facts. The court is obliged to hear them and then take a decision without any pre conceptions and free of prejudice. This sub section mainly focuses on, that the justice is provided to a person in accordance to the set rules and laws and no court has the opportunity to abuse the power they are vested with.

EXPLANATION: Under S.401 (3), it is highlighted or made clear that when the High court is exercising its revisional jurisdiction then it has a limitation that cannot be crossed. The limitation is that the High court shall have no authority to convert a finding of acquittal into one of conviction. This sub section basically explains the prohibition on the revisional powers of the high court. This can be excused only in exceptional cases that is the ones in which the defect or error is evidently visible and if no proper action is take it may lead to miscarriage of justice.

CASE LAW: SHINGAR SINGH VS. STATE OF HARYANA- In this case it was held that when an application of revision is filed by a private party, against an order of acquittal, the order of conviction cannot be passed by the High court for the same.

EXPLANATION: Under S.401 (4), first and foremost is that it is based on a sound policy that says a person who has not exhausted his remedies provided by law should not normally be allowed to involve the revisional jurisdiction of the High court. Further with the explanation it can be understood as, if a party to the case has an option to file an appeal but still adamantly goes and files a revision application for the same then the High Court has all the power to decline it. It is believed that the High court will take an immediate action by itself if it feels that injustice is done but if forcefully someone tries to bring an application that does not hold that much gravity and can be settled by an appeal then such application can be rejected by the High court.

EXPLANATION: Under S.401 (5), it is believed that the justice cannot be denied to a person because of a bona fide mistake on the part of the person who is seeking remedy in a higher court. In this sub section it is stated that if a person who has an opportunity to file an appeal but still has applied for revision because he/she genuinely believes that no appeal lies, then the High court will treat the revision petition as an appeal and move forward appropriately.


EXPLANATION: Under S.402 (1), if one or more persons are convicted at a same trial and out of them one applies for revision in the High court and the other to the session judge then it is at the discretion of the High court to decide which of the two courts will finalize the case after looking into the matter. If the high court decides to dispose of the case by itself then it can direct the sessions judge to transfer all the applications for revision to itself but on the other hand if the opposite happens that is the high court decides to not take up the case then all the applications are transferred to the sessions judge and from there the decision is taken.

EXPLANATION: Under S.402 (2), it is explained that even when the High court receives an application of revision that is transferred to it the case should be treated as it is received for the first time by the court. No prejudices or ignorance should be shown by the court while looking up the case and deciding about it.

EXPLANATION: Under S.402 (3), it is explained in the same manner as S.402 (2) is understood, only difference that stands is that in this the application of revision is transferred to the Sessions judge and it is important to handle the application as if it is made for the first time and not transferred.

EXPLANATION: Under S.402 (4), explains that if an application of revision is transferred to the Sessions judge by the High court and that particular application has been disposed off by the same then a person with the same revision application cannot approach the High court or any other court again.


According to this section a party cannot insist the Court that they should be heard. This rule applies to both the parties that is the accused as well as the complainant. But Section 401 proves to be an exception of this rule because it is believed that the Court cannot take actions that may hamper the credibility of the court as well as the law and hence if the court believes and feels that the accused or the other person should be given an opportunity to be heard either personally or by his pleader in his own defence then they cannot be denied such opportunity.


A Metropolitan Magistrate is required to record specific particulars instead of writing the judgement under Section 355. This means that the Metropolitan Magistrate records a brief statement of the reasons for the decision taken by him.

Under Section 404 the Magistrate may submit the statement along with the record that is asked by the High court or the Court of session under section 397. The statement that may be submitted explains the grounds or the facts which were taken into consideration by the Magistrate while giving a decision. This helps the courts in two ways that is (i) the court of revision can check whether the decision taken by the Magistrate is justified or not; (ii) it helps the court to understand the facts and data more appropriately which may be essential for the case and leads the court to think twice before overruling or setting aside the said decision or order.


Under this section after the final decision is taken in regards to the revisional application that was filed to either the High court or the Sessions judge, is reviewed and then certified to the lower courts that this is the particular decision taken.


Hence to conclude with, revisional jurisdiction is a very important aspect whenever there is a question of law. It keeps a check on the lower courts so that no one becomes arbitrary and works in whatever manner they feel right. The protection of justice is done under revision so that no one can mishandle the law and punish an innocent over a guilty person.

Author: Gargi Mishra,
Amity Law School, Student of 3rd Year B.A.LLB(H)

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