1.Right to Suit
2.Right to Appeal
3.Scope of Right to Appeal in Statutory Law
4.Historical Overview
5.Legal Frameworks

Right to Suit

An individual or organization has a legal entitlement known as the “right to sue” that enables them to initiate a lawsuit against another individual or organization in a court of law. This right is considered fundamental since it allows them to pursue legal action and seek remedy or recourse for any perceived harm or wrongdoing caused by the other party. Typically, the right to sue is granted to individuals or organizations who are capable of demonstrating that they have suffered legal harm or damages resulting from the actions or omissions of another party. Such circumstances may include but are not limited to a breach of contract, personal injury, property damage, or infringement of intellectual property rights, among others. It is essential to note that the right to sue is subject to legal constraints or limitations, and may not be an absolute right. Furthermore, the process of initiating legal proceedings can be intricate, requiring the guidance of legal experts to navigate it effectively.

It is crucial to acknowledge that the right to sue is not an unrestricted right, as there may be legal limitations or restrictions on the individuals or entities who can initiate legal proceedings and the situations in which they can do so. Moreover, the process of commencing a lawsuit can be intricate and costly and may necessitate the guidance of legal experts to navigate it competently.

Right to Appeal

The legal entitlement of a party to challenge a lower court or tribunal’s decision in a higher or appellate court is known as the right to appeal. This right permits parties to contest the factual or legal conclusions reached by a lower court or tribunal and seek a different outcome.

Under Article 21 of the Constitution of India[1], which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty, the right to appeal is recognized in India. It is a fundamental component of the Indian legal system and is intended to ensure equitable and impartial administration of justice.

The procedure for filing an appeal in India is dependent on the type of case and the court or tribunal involved. Generally, a written petition outlining the grounds for the appeal must be submitted within a specified timeframe after the lower court’s decision. The higher court then assesses the evidence and legal arguments presented by both parties before reaching a decision. The right to appeal is accessible at various levels of the Indian judiciary system, from district courts to the Supreme Court of India. Both civil and criminal cases can be appealed, and the appellate court may either uphold, modify, or reverse the lower court’s decision.

Scope of Right to Appeal in Statutory Law

The right to appeal is not an inherent right and is only granted through specific statutes. It is considered a substantive right, rather than merely procedural. This right is conferred upon the litigant from the beginning of the case, although it is exercised only when an unfavourable judgment is pronounced. Consequently, the law that applies to the right to appeal is the one that was in force at the time the lawsuit was filed, not the law that applies at the time of decision or when the appeal is filed. These vested rights can only be taken away by a subsequent statute if it explicitly provides for it.

It is important to note that as this right is created by statute, the statute can impose conditions for its exercise. The forum of appeal may also be altered by the statute, and the litigant does not have the right to choose the forum for appeal. As Justice Khanna once stated, the right of appeal is a product of statute, and there is no reason why the legislature cannot impose conditions for exercising this right as long as those conditions are not excessively restrictive to the point of rendering the right almost meaningless.

Historical Overview

The Indian legal system has evolved to recognize two fundamental rights, namely the right to sue and the right to appeal. These rights have been shaped by diverse legal traditions and cultures, and their historical development in India is a topic of great significance.

The right to access justice, commonly referred to as the right to sue, has been an integral facet of the Indian legal system since ancient times. In ancient India, justice was founded upon the principle of dharma, which denotes righteousness, and it was the responsibility of the king to ensure that justice was dispensed impartially. During this period, individuals were granted the right to approach the king or local courts to seek redressal.

Subsequently, during British rule in India, a formal legal system was introduced, and the English legal system became prevalent. This system placed great emphasis on the right to sue and the right to a fair trial. Consequently, the Indian Civil Procedure Code (CPC) was enacted in 1908, which laid down the procedural framework for filing a civil suit in India. The code ensured that every individual was entitled to the right to sue, and could approach a court of law to seek justice.

The notion of the right to appeal gradually developed during the period of British governance in India. Under their rule, the appellate system was introduced, permitting litigants to challenge a lower court’s decision by appealing to a higher court. In 1898, the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) was passed, recognizing the right to appeal in criminal cases. This legislation allowed accused individuals to appeal their conviction or sentencing from a lower court to a higher court.

Following India’s independence in 1947, significant changes were made to the country’s legal system. In 1950, the Constitution of India was enacted, enshrining the right to access justice as a fundamental right. Furthermore, the Constitution established the Supreme Court as the highest court in the nation, providing the right to appeal to it. Additionally, the Constitution conferred the authority on high courts to hear appeals from subordinate courts.

Throughout the years, the Indian legal system has been subject to diverse influences from various legal traditions and cultures. The ancient Hindu legal system, which was predominant in India, prioritized the fundamental right to access justice and provided for the amicable resolution of conflicts through mediation and arbitration. Meanwhile, the Islamic legal system, which emerged during the Mughal era, accentuated the significance of a just and fair trial process and guaranteed the right to appeal. These legal traditions have left a profound impact on the Indian legal system and continue to shape its development to this day.

  1. Right to Suit

In India, individuals have the right to initiate legal action against another person or entity in a court of law, which is commonly known as the right to sue. This right is enshrined in the Indian Constitution, which ensures that every citizen has access to justice as per Article 39A[2]. The Indian legal system provides for various types of civil suits, including breach of contract, recovery of money, specific performance, and injunctions, among others. The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908[3] governs the process of initiating a civil suit.

  • Initiating a Suit: Parties, Framing, and Institution

The process of initiating a civil case involves two parties, the plaintiff and the defendant, as per Order 1 which deals with Parties to suit. The plaintiff is responsible for bringing the case against the defendant, who is the other party that must provide a defence against the allegations made by the plaintiff in civil court.

Once the parties to the suit are recognized, the next step is to frame the suit as provided under Order 2. This involves the plaintiff approaching the civil court with their suit, which is referred to as the Frame of Suit. Framing of suit indicates that a legal action has been brought by one party against another. According to Rule 2 of Order 2, the plaintiff must include their entire claim in the suit, which serves as the cause of action against the defendant. The framed suit needs to be instituted before the civil court, but the question of who the institution is answered by Order 3 of the Code.

  • Agents and Pleaders

Order 3 of the Code of 1908 deals with recognized agents and leaders, who are essential for the plaintiff to institute a suit framed before the civil court. The plaintiff requires the help of a legal professional or pleader who has expertise in the field of law to take the framed suit before the court on their behalf. Rule 2 and Rule 4 of Order 3 respectively provide guidelines for recognizing agents and pleaders. Once a recognized agent or pleader is hired, it becomes their responsibility to institute the suit before the civil court on behalf of the plaintiff. This brings us to Order 4 of the Code, which discusses the proper institution of suits. To institute a suit, the plaintiff needs to present a plaint before the court, the meaning of which is explained under Order 7 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

It is crucial to note that compliance with sub-rules (1) and (2) of Rule 1 of Order 4 is mandatory for the proper institution of the suit. Sub-rule (1) requires the presentation of a plaint to institute a suit before the court of law. Sub-rule (2) provides that no plaint as provided in the previous rule can escape the rules provided under Orders 6 and 7 of the Code.

  1. Right to appeal

As per Section 96 of the CPC, an aggrieved party to any decree passed by a court while exercising its original jurisdiction has the right to appeal to a higher authority designated for this purpose, except in cases where any statute makes an exception. This grants the aggrieved party at least one right of appeal.

However, Sections 97, 98, and 102 of the CPC specify certain conditions under which no further appeal is allowed, therefore limiting the right of appeal to a single opportunity.

It is important to note that no person has the right to appeal against a decision unless they are a party to the suit, unless they have been granted special leave of the court. The question of whether a person is adversely affected by the decision or suit is a factual matter that needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

The case of Garikapati Veeraya v. Subbiah Chaudhary[4] established that the right to appeal to the Federal Court that existed prior to the establishment of the Supreme Court still remained valid. The court recognized the shift in the judicial system from the Federal Court to the Supreme Court but emphasized the preservation of the right to appeal that was created under the old law. It should be noted, however, that the continuation of this right is subject to the provisions of the Constitution.

  • Appeals and Conversions under CPC

The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 provides for various types of appeals and their maintainability. Under Section 96 of the CPC[5], a regular first appeal may or may not be maintainable against certain adjudications, as indicated by a combined reading of Sections 2(2), 2(9), and 96 of the CPC. A first appeal lies from a decree passed by any court exercising original jurisdiction to the authorized appellate courts, except where expressly prohibited.

Furthermore, Section 100 of the CPC[6] provides for a second appeal under this code. A decree passed in the first appeal by a subordinate court can be appealed to the High Court unless there are provisions indicating otherwise. However, the scope of exercise of jurisdiction under this section is limited to a substantial question of law framed at the time of admission of appeal or otherwise.

Regarding the conversion of an appeal into a revision, the court’s inherent powers allow it to pass orders that may be required to meet the ends of justice, as held in the case of Bahori v. Vidya Ram[7]. In the absence of a specific provision in the CPC for converting an appeal to a revision or vice versa, Section 151[8] governs the court’s exercise of power. The conversion is allowed, as long as the proper procedure was followed during the filing of the original appeal or revision. However, the only precondition to such conversion is that due procedure is adhered to during the filing of the original appeal/revision.

  • Who has the right to appeal under Section 96 of the CPC?

Section 96 of the CPC provides that a regular first appeal can be preferred by any party to the suit who has been adversely affected by the decree. This includes the legal representatives of the deceased party under Section 146. Additionally, a transferee of the interest of such a party, whose name is entered on the record of the suit, may also appeal. In the event of an order in execution setting aside the sale on the basis of fraud, the purchaser at auction has the right to file an appeal.

However, no person other than a party to the suit is entitled to appeal under Section 96 unless special leave is granted by the appellate Court. This means that a person who is not a party to the suit can only prefer an appeal from a decree or order if they are bound, aggrieved or prejudicially affected by it and if special leave of the appellate Court is granted.

  • Who is barred from appealing?

A party who has waived their right to appeal a judgment is precluded from filing an appeal at a later stage. The principles of estoppel may also apply where a party has accepted the provisions of a judgment and has acknowledged it as final and binding. The doctrine of estoppel prevents such a party from appealing the same judgment in a higher forum. Scrutton L.J. has expressed the view that a party cannot simultaneously accept the benefits of a judgment and then appeal against it as being unfavourable.

  • Role and Standards of Review in Indian Appellate Courts

Appellate courts in the Indian legal system are higher courts that review and revise the decisions of lower courts, including district courts and tribunals. These courts include the High Courts, the highest courts in each state or union territory, and the Supreme Court of India, the highest court in the country.

Appellate courts use two standards of review when examining lower court decisions: one for questions of fact and one for questions of law. The standard of review on questions of fact is deferential to the lower court’s decision and will only be overturned if the findings of fact are clearly erroneous or not supported by evidence. The standard of review on questions of law, on the other hand, is less deferential and will closely examine the legal reasoning and interpretation used by the lower court, often applying its own interpretation of the law.

In criminal cases, the standard of review is higher due to the higher stakes and severe consequences of an erroneous decision. The decisions of appellate courts have significant implications for the parties involved and for the development of the law in India. Overall, the role of appellate courts in the Indian legal system is to ensure the fair administration of justice by reviewing and correcting lower court decisions.


To conclude, the right to sue and appeal in India represent fundamental pillars of the legal system, enabling access to justice for all citizens. These rights are duly recognized by the Indian Constitution, and the procedures for initiating legal action are regulated by the relevant statutes and rules. The Supreme Court of India has provided crucial interpretations of these rights, ensuring that they align with the principles of natural justice and the fundamental right to access justice. By having these rights in place, individuals in India can seek legal remedies in cases of disputes or breaches of the law, contributing to the promotion of a just and equitable society.


  1. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution
  2. Article 39A of the Indian Constitution
  3. Code of Criminal Procedure (India), Act No. 2, 1974
  4. Garikapati Veeraya v. Subbiah Chaudhary, (1979) 1 SCC 16.
  5. Civil Procedure Code § 96 (India).
  6. Code of Civil Procedure, Act No. 5, 1908, §100, India Code (2019)
  7. Bahori v. Vidya Ram, (1978) 1 SCC 1.
  8. Civil Procedure Code, § 151 (India).
  9. Civil Procedure Code, § 146 (India).

This article was authored by Sohini Chakraborty, a first-year law student at RGNUL Patiala.

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