Art. 185. (1) Subject to this Article, the Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from judgments, decrees, final orders or sentences of a High Court.

(2) An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgmens, decree, final order or sentence of a High Court—

(a) if the High Court has on appeal reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death or to transportation for life or imprisonment for life ; or, on revision, has enhanced a sentence to a sentence as aforesaid ; or

(b) if the High Court has withdrawn for trial before itself any case from any court subordinate to it and has in such trial convicted the accused person and sentenced him as aforesaid ; or

(c) if the High Court has imposed any punishment on any person for contempt of the High Court; or

(d) if the amount or value of the subject-matter of the dispute in the court of first instance was, and also in dispute in appeal is, not less than fifty thousand rupees or such other sum as may be specified in that behalf by Act of 1[Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] and the judgment, decree or final order appealed from has varied or set aside the judgment, decree or final order of the court immediately below ; or

(e) if the judgment, decree or final order involves directly or indirectly some claim or question respecting property of the like amount or value and the judgment, decree or final order appealed from has varied or set aside the judgment, decree or final order of the court immediately below; or

(f) if the High Court certifies that the case involves a sub-stantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.

(3) An appeal to the Supreme Court from a judgment decree, order or sentence of a High Court in a case to which clause (2) does not apply shall lie only if the Supreme Court grants leave to appeal.

Clause 2—sub-clauses (a), (b) and (c) of article 185 provides for appeal to Supreme Court in criminal cases while  sub-clauses (d), (e) and (f) Clause 2 provides for appeal in civil cases. Clause 3 provides for appeal by leave.

Appellate Jurisdiction of Supreme Court of Pakistan

(i) Appeal in Criminal Cases

Appeal to the Supreme Court lies against the Judgment, final order or sentence of High Court in following Criminal Cases:

Sub-clause (a). If the High Court reversed the final order of acquittal and sentenced the accused to death or transportation for life or imprisonment for life or in the exercise of revisional jurisdiction has sentenced him as aforesaid.

Sub-clause (b). If the High Court withdrawing a case from subordinate court has tried the accused and sentenced him as said in clause (a).

Sub-clause (c). If High Court has imposed any punishment (imprisonment or fine) on any person for contempt of the High Court.

Art 185 does not enable a person to file an appeal as of  right from the judgment of the HC confirming a death sentence by a Session Judge. It is competent only where the HC has set aside acquittal and passed sentence of death or imprisonment for life.(1997 SCMR 1)

But where the sentence of death is submitted to High Court for confirmation and the High Court exercises no power other than provided by section 376 of Cr.P.C and does not confirm a sentence, but upon the same conviction or an altered conviction passes any other sentence warranted by law, and that sentence is transportation for life, an appeal may lie to Supreme Court as of right.    (1971 SCMR 403, PLD 1963 SC 226)

Sentence of Transportation for life is omitted by Law Reforms Ordinance, XII of 1972, S. 2.

Diminished liability on account of grave and sudden provocation

(Abdul Haque v. The State and another1996 SCMR 1566.)

The Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 (PPC), in its original form, contained provisions whereby causing the death of a person due to grave and sudden provocation was defined as culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The relevant provision, contained in Exception 1 to Section 300 PPC, stated: Culpable homicide is not murder if the offender, while deprived of the power of self-control by grave and sudden provocation, causes the death of the person who gave the provocation or causes the death of any other person by mistake or accident.

Accused killed the deceased in the court room when the latter threatened to sexually assault all the women of the accused’s tribe on his release. Accused convicted and sentenced to death. He preferred appeal against the death sentence.

Majority of the High Court judges were of the view that section 300 of PPC (amended) does not have any exception therefore, the plea of diminished liability on account of grave and sudden provocation was not available to the accused.

A three member bench of the Supreme Court felt that the plea of diminished responsibility under grave and sudden provocation had been well-recognized in the sub-continent for more than a hundred years and there was good reason that a person who committed culpable homicide out of compulsion, ethical or otherwise, not brought about by himself, could not be placed on the same footing as a cold-blooded murderer or hired assassin. Serious question for consideration arose that whether the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 1990 was intended to do away with the preferential treatment which has always been accorded to a person who took another’s life under circumstance where he had lost self-control.

Such question being of great fundamental importance not only for the reason that it would effect a large number of pending cases, but also because it had bearing on the attitude and reflexes of the people under the most testing circumstances when their natural reactions compel them to act in a certain manner. Question needed to be considered by a larger Bench and was directed to be placed before Chief Justice for necessary orders.Five members bench of SC held that a provocation plea is not available if murder is liable to qisas. However, it is available as a mitigating circumstance for a murder considered under section 302 (b) of PPC (Tazir).  

Appeal against acquittal

In appeal against acquittal Supreme Court would not on principle ordinarily interfere and instead would give weight and considerations to the findings of acquittal. This approach is based on the fact that acquittal carries with it two well established presumptions; one initial, that, till found guilty the accused is innocent; and two that after the trial a court below the assumption of innocence is confirmed.

However, the assumption will not carry the second assumption and will also lose the first one if the points having conclusive effect on the end result of the court below; (a) disregarded the material evidence; (b) misread such evidence; (c) received such evidence illegally. If the conclusion reached by the court below was such that no reasonable person would have conceivably reach the same and was impossible then the SC would interfere on overwhelming proof resulting in conclusive and irresistible conclusion and that too with a view only to avoid the grave miscarriage of justice and for no other purpose.             (PLD 1985 SC 11)

(ii) Appeal in Civil Cases:

Sub-clause (d). If the amount or value of the subject matter both in the court of first instance and in the appeal to SC is not less Rs. 50,000 or such other sum as may be specified by an Act of Parliament and the judgment, final order or decree appealed from has varied, or set aside the judgment, order or the decree of the court immediately below it.

Sub-clause (e). If the judgment, final order or decree involves, directly or indirectly, some claim or question respecting the property of the like amount (Rs. 50,000) and the judgment, final order or decree appealed from has varied or set aside the judgment, final order or decree of the court immediately below it.

Sub-clause (f). If the HC certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of constitution. (Does not specifically require that the value of the property must be Rs. 50,000 or more).

(iii) Appeal by leave: Clause (3)

Clause 3 of art 185 says that an appeal to Supreme Court from the judgment, decree, order or sentence of High Court in a case to which clause (2) does not apply shall lie only if the SC grants leave to appeal.

Clause (3) of the Art 185 must be read with art clause (3) of 212  of the Constitution which provides for appeal by special leave from Administrative Courts and Tribunals if the Supreme Court is satisfied that the case involves a substantial question of law of public importance.

Decision of the Cabinet whether deemed to be the decision of Government?

Suppression of Cooperative Society by Martial Law Administrator with the option with to Govt revive the same at any time

Govt decided to revive the Society from 1st Aug, 1986 but no requisite steps were taken to revive the society. High Court directed the govt to revive the Society within specified period.

In petition for leave to appeal the main ground was that no notification or order was issued under the signature of the Govt functionary on the basis of the decision of the Cabinet.

Question for determination was that whether the decision of the Cabinet was synonymous with the decision of Govt keeping view the provisions of art 129 and 139 of the Constitution.

Question raised involved the interpretation of the Constitution. Leave to appeal was granted to examine, inter alia, whether the decision of the cabinet could be treated as decision of the govt within the meaning of para 3 of Martial Law Order NO. 856 whereby Model Town Cooperative Society was dissolved. (1997 SCMR 186)

Can a Civil Court strike down a law?

Leave to appeal was granted to consider whether in view of art 2-A, 204-B, 227 and 268 and section 3 and 4 of the Enforcement of Sharia Act, 1991, civil courts have the power to examine, review, interpret and strike down, if necessary, any provision of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961, which was allegedly contrary to the Injunctions of Islam as laid down by Holy Quran and Sunnah and also to consider contrary contention that section 4 of MFLO was the result of Ijtehad and interpretation of principles of Islam and therefore could not be termed as un-Islamic. (PLD 1993 SC 595, 1993 SCMR 1718)

Discovery of New Evidence

Supreme Court, as a rule, does not undertake an enquiry as a court of first instance, nor permit additional evidence to be placed in appeal where there was sufficient opportunity for the appellant to place all the relevant material before the HC. Where the evidence having material bearing on the merits of the case is subsequently discovered there are three courses open to the party to the litigation i.e. he may:

(i) apply for admission of the fresh material as additional evidence before the judgment is pronounced;

(ii) apply for the review of the judgment after it is pronounced; and

(iii) appeal from that judgment.

The appellant resorting to third option must disclose as to why he could not have applied for the review of the judgment on the ground of the discovery of new evidence. In an appeal it is now

well settled that additional evidence should not be admitted in order merely to enable one of the parties to litigation to fill in gaps in the evidence.        (PLD 1969 SC 60)  

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