18 July 2020

There is no limitation period for 'victim' to file appeal against acquittal

Appeal u/s.372 by victim against acquittal - appeal by mother of deceased - definition of 'victim' - responsibility of the court recording acquittal

It is manifest that Section 372 of the Code relates to appeal from judgment or order of a Criminal Court. It gives to the victim the right to prefer an appeal against any adverse order passed by the trial Court. This amendment forms a part of the entire scheme under which the definition 'victim' was inserted by way of Section 2 (wa) of the Code, so as to allocate an active and constructive role to a victim of an offence in the judicial process arising from an offence.[Para No.8]

Section 2 (wa) of the Code defines the term 'victim' as to mean a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by reason of the act or omission for which the accused person has been charged and the expression 'victim' includes his or her guardian or legal heir.[Para No.9]

The applicant herein is not only informant / complainant but the mother of deceased also who was allegedly done to death by respondent No.1- husband. The victim of crime, taken in the natural and ordinary sense, was the applicant's daughter. However, now that actual crime victim is no more, the question arises as to whether the applicant being her mother can be recorded as a victim.[Para No.10]

As per proviso to Section 372, an appeal by victim shall lie to the Court to which an appeal ordinarily lies against the order of conviction of such Court. That is to say appeal shall lie either before the Sessions Court or before the High Court, depending upon the Court which tried the case. No such statutory right existed prior to the amendment except under Section 378 (4) of the Code. Under Section 378 (4), a private party can challenge an acquittal by way of appeal only after getting special leave to appeal under Sub-Section (5) of Section 378 within six months if the complainant is a public servant, and within 60 days in every other case.[Para No.13]

There is no limitation period for 'victim' to file appeal against acquittal
We notice, however, that no period of limitation has been prescribed for the victim to prefer appeal against the judgment of acquittal in terms of proviso to Section 372 of the Code.[Para No.14]

It is common experience that in most of the cases informants are not so well educated or come from strata of society, lacking awareness and nuances involved in the proceedings. The semblance given to him/ her is that every care is taken by state machinery. This being so, he or she may not even know the outcome of the proceedings. Is it the duty of Public Prosecutor to ensure that the informant is informed about the judgment acquitting accused against whom he/ she had instituted the case?[Para No.28]


Here we again revert back to Section 365 of the Code which casts an obligation upon the Court of Sessions or Chief Judicial Magistrate or other trying Magistrate to forward a copy of its or his finding and sentence (if any) to the District Magistrate within those local jurisdiction the trial was held.[Para No.29]

We tend to embrace the procedure laid down by Section 365 of the Code in appeals against the acquittal filed under section 372 of the Code also and hold that as soon as an accused or the accused persons are acquitted, the Court of Sessions or Chief Judicial Magistrate or other trying Magistrate shall forward a copy of its or his finding and sentence (if any) to the District Magistrate (Collector) within whose local jurisdiction the trial was held.[Para No.30]

The reason being that the District Magistrate, after all, has the machinery and all the infrastructure at its disposal to take necessary and required steps so that the victim is informed about the acquittal and should be apprised of his or her right of appeal. An acknowledgment of the said information after having been received by victim from the office of District Magistrate be transmitted to the above said Courts for the purpose of record which will ensure and enable the Appellate Court to ascertain bona fides of appellant.[Para No.31]

We direct that Courts of Session, Chief Judicial Magistrate and Magistrate, on their part, to maintain a register in this regard incorporating the date of dispatching copy of its or his finding and sentence (if any) to the District Magistrate and further to record the date of delivery of the same. Acknowledgment from the victim so received by District Magistrate and forwarded to the respective Courts shall also be recorded in the said register.[Para No.32]




Bombay High Court

Ranjana Shantilal Suryawanshi
Vs.
Jaiprakash Tulsiram Gupta

Decided 16/07/2020





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