The judgement of a criminal court which convicts or discharges accessed is called the order of conviction or discharge respectively. If the order of the criminal court convicts the accused, he shall be given an opportunity to make his submissions on the quantum of punishment to be imposed. Where the law prescribes that the person convicted shall be sentenced to a minimum period of imprisonment even then the accused shall be given an opportunity to make his submissions as to why a lesser punishment shall only be imposed. It is only after the convicted person makes his submissions the court will have jurisdiction to pronounce the sentence. If the convicted person is not given such opportunity or adequate opportunity, that part of the order which sentences the accused will be set aside and case will be remanded. Thus, the final order of the criminal court shall have two parts.
- The order of conviction and
- The order of sentence
However, the appeal to be preferred shall be a single appeal against the composite order of conviction and sentence. It is permissible for the accused to appeal against sentence only but not against mere conviction. If he questions only the conviction he shall necessarily question the sentence. Thus, while preferring appeal it is open to the appellant to confine his relief to the sentence only. Even then his appeal is called as an appeal both against conviction and sentence. If the appeal grounds are confined to sentence only it is still open to the appellant to argue on the defects in conviction, so as to enable the appellate court to reduce the sentence.
When the appeal is filed the appellate court has jurisdiction to suspend the order of the sentence and enlarge the appellant on bail. Till recently, it is held, that the appellate court has no jurisdiction to suspend conviction at the time of the admission of appeal. There is no power either with the government to suspend the conviction at any stage of the criminal proceedings so long as they are pending in courts.
Conviction has certain legal consequences. A person convicted and sentenced for a period of over two years, he suffers a disqualification to be in appointed to or continue of any government post or in public office. Till, the Supreme court in a recent case of a M.P from Punjab convicted on a road-rage case, suspended the conviction the courts were not suspending convictions.
[Ref.: Management of Tamil Nadu Cements Co-op. Ltd., v. Presiding Officer Labour Court, 2005 (II) LLJ 1159 Madras.]