Tuesday, June 18, 2024

How to file an appeal in a criminal case


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For example, in a verdict in a criminal case, you as the plaintiff or the accused are not satisfied with the verdict given by the court.

Or you may feel that the judgment given by the court is against you. You can appeal a criminal case for these reasons.

In a nutshell, appeal means applying for a retrial in a higher court. The law says that an appeal can be made on two grounds. On questions of fact and on questions of law.

You can appeal against any judgment given by the lower court. There are basically 3 reasons you can appeal a criminal case.

What grounds can be appealed?

First, let’s find out what grounds can be appealed in a criminal case. When a criminal court convicts or sentences an accused, you can appeal against it if you are not satisfied as a defendant.

Or it may happen that you are the plaintiff in a criminal case but the accused is acquitted, but you can appeal against the acquittal.

On the other hand, if you are the defendant in a criminal case and the defendant, in that case, was not punished according to the punishment required for a serious crime.

In other words, even if the sentence is insufficient, you can appeal. So there are three grounds for appeal under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

  • Appeal from conviction or sentence.
  • Appeal from acquittal.
  • Appeal against the inadequacy of the sentence.

There is no appeal if there is no provision in the law. The right of appeal is created by law.

Appeal from conviction or sentence

If you are not satisfied with a court’s conviction or sentence in a criminal case, you must appeal.

One thing you must understand before considering an appeal against a sentence is the jurisdiction of a criminal court.

And one more thing is how the trial process of the criminal case begins. Understanding these two points will help you understand the appeal.

That is why I am saying that the law specifies which criminal court sentence should be appealed to a higher court.

Section 407 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that if a 2nd or 3rd class Magistrate passes a sentence, an appeal shall lie before the Chief Judicial Magistrate.

Section 408 states that an appeal against the sentence passed by a Joint Sessions Judge or 1st Class Magistrate shall be filed in the Court of Sessions Judge.

There is also a condition here. If a joint session judge gives a sentence of more than 5 years, then the appeal against him cannot be made in the court of the session judge, it has to be made in the high court.

In Section 408 we have learned that the appeal against any sentence passed by the 1st Class Magistrate is in the Court of Sessions Judge but here there is a different provision.

Section 408(b) states that if a Magistrate of the 1st class or any Magistrate passes a sentence in a case of sedition under Section 124(a) of the Penal Code, then an appeal against the judgment shall be made in the High Court.

This time in section 410 it is said that if the session judge court gives any sentence then an appeal should be made to the high court.

Courts to which appeal from acquittal?

Appeals from acquittal can be made only to two courts. As there is a provision for appeal against sentence to different courts, an appeal against acquittal can be appealed only to two courts.

Usually, two parties appeal the acquittal. Public Prosecutor or Plaintiff/Complainant.

When any Magistrate’s Court passes a judgment of acquittal, the Public Prosecutor may appeal against it to the Court of Session judge within 6 months, or by the accused within 60 days.

If a session court gives the verdict of acquittal, then the public prosecutor has to appeal to the High Court within 6 months, and the complainant has 60 days.

One thing to remember here is that the public prosecutor can appeal against the acquittal in the original case or the appeal, i.e. the public prosecutor can file a second appeal against the order of acquittal.

But the plaintiff/complainant cannot file a second appeal against acquittal. Section 417 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for an appeal against acquittal.

Appeal against the inadequacy of the sentence

After sentencing the defendant in a case, if the plaintiff or the prosecution feels that the sentence imposed for a particular offense is not sufficient, an appeal can be made on the ground of its inadequacy.

Section 417(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with the provision of an appeal against the inadequacy of the sentence.

In any case, the public prosecutor may file an appeal to the ‘High Court’ at the direction of the Government against an inadequate sentence passed by a Magistrate’s Court or a Sessions Court.

And if the plaintiff or the complainant wants to appeal against the inadequacy of the sentence, he will file an appeal in the relevant appellate court (provision of appeal from the sentence).

Either the public prosecutor or the complainant must file an appeal within 60 days of the judgment.

When can a criminal appeal be made?

If the accused pleads guilty in a case and the court sentences him on the basis of the guilty plea, there is no appeal against the verdict.

In this case, the appeal is on the question of the quantum of punishment and the validity of the punishment.

This provision of appeal is mentioned in section 412. No frivolous case is appealable. If the Sessions judge Court awards only 1-month imprisonment or if other courts impose a fine of taka 50/= without imposing the original punishment and if the fine is not paid, the appeal against the imprisonment is not open.

In any case of summary trial under section 260, if a maximum fine of Tk. 200/= is not appealed against.

In short, the right of appeal is created by law. Appeals can be made only on questions of fact and on questions of law.

Powers of Appellate Courts to dispose of appeals

The Court of Appeal may dismiss any appeal summarily or outright. If the Court considers that there is no reason to interfere with the appeal, it may dismiss the appeal.

A stipulation here is that the appeal cannot be dismissed without an opportunity for the appellant or his counsel to be heard.

According to this provision of Section 421, the court may summon the records of the case before dismissing the appeal but it is not mandatory.

On any appeal against acquittal, the appellate court may modify the order of acquittal. Can order further investigation into the case, order a retrial of the accused or convict him and punish him according to law.

Again, in case of an appeal against the sentence, the appellate court can acquit/discharge the accused by changing the sentence, sending the accused for a re-trial, or reducing or increasing the sentence.

An appellate court may increase the sentence where the plaintiff or the state appeals for an insufficient sentence.

However, section 423 also states that the accused should be given an opportunity to show cause in case of enhancement of sentence.

Moreover, the appellate court cannot award any sentence more than what the trial court could have awarded for the specified offense, in case of enhancement of sentence.

Are bail conditions available on appeal?

When the trial court passes a sentence, if the accused is aggrieved by the sentence, he has the right to appeal.

Section 426 of the Code of Criminal Procedure mentions the provision of bail in terms of appeal.

It is stated in this section, subject to the appeal of the convicted person, the appellate court can order the suspension of sentence by recording reasons or release the accused on bail on his own bond.

Section 426(2A) states that if a judicial court sentences a person to imprisonment for a term exceeding one year and there is provision for an appeal against the sentence and the judicial court is of the opinion that the person may or will file an appeal, the court may release the convicted accused on bail.

According to Section 2B of the same section, the High Court can also release the convicted person on bail.

If the High Court gives a sentence on appeal, there is a special order for an appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against that sentence and if the High Court Division thinks fit, it can order the suspension of the appealed sentence and release on bail of the accused if detained.

What happens if the accused or plaintiff dies during the appeal?

Appeals are discussed in detail in the Code of Criminal Procedure. The code also deals with the consequences if the plaintiff or the defendant dies during the appeal.

If the accused dies during the appeal against acquittal or insufficient sentence, the appeal becomes final.

But the appeal shall not be dismissed even if any public prosecutor or plaintiff dies during the pendency of the appeal.

Now the sentence remains. We must remember that the accused always appeals against the sentence.

In this case also if the accused dies then the appeal will be dismissed. But there is a proviso that in any appeal against the fine penalty, the appeal shall not become barred if the accused dies.

In this case, if the defendant/appellant dies, his legal representative will be substituted in the said appeal.

Moreover, the penalty will be recoverable from the property of the deceased.


At the outset, I have stated the right created by the Act to appeal in criminal cases. In order to appeal in a criminal case, one has to follow various rules of the law.

The law has unlimited opportunities for self-defense. Our advice would be that an appeal must be made in consultation with a specialist lawyer.

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Advocate Shipta Barua
Advocate Shipta Baruahttps://legalhome.org
Currently working as a Criminal Lawyer in Cox's Bazar Sessions Court, as well as legal consultant at Legal Home to provide legal assistance to common people. Moreover, involved in various social activities through the organization Gyananneshon. He completed LL.B (Hons) and LL.M in Law and Justice. Special interest in maritime law, environmental law and criminology.


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