In the recent judgement of Parvinder Kansal v. The State of NCT of Delhi & another , dated 28 August, 2020, the hon’ble Supreme Court has once again reiterated that the victim has no right to appeal for enhancement of punishment under Section 372 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. In the present case, the appeal was filed in SC against the dismissal of appeal by High Court under Section 372 for enhancing the punishment of the accused from life imprisonment to death penalty in a kidnapping & murder case.
Before finding recourse for the diluted right to appeal in such a situation, it is pertinent to have a look at the provision of Section 372, CrPC. This section allows a victim to file an appeal against any order by the Court in the following circumstances:
- Acquittal of the accused
- Conviction of the accused for lesser offence
- Imposition of inadequate compensation
The plain reading of the above mentioned conditions makes it clear that the victim has no right to appeal for enhancement of punishment under Section 372. For example, for the offence of robbery, the accused has been punished with rigorous imprisonment of only 10 months. The victim cannot file an appeal under Section 372 for enhancement of punishment from 10 months to 3 years. However, the state government is empowered to appeal for the enhancement of sentence on the ground of its inadequacy in accordance to Section 377 of CrPC.
Although the victim cannot file an appeal to enhance the sentence, he still has the option of revision as a substitute. The person can file an application for revision to the High Court or to the Sessions Judge. Section 397(1) of CrPC grants powers of revision to the court in the following circumstances:
- Incorrectness in any finding, sentence or order, recorded or passed or;
- Illegality in any finding, sentence or order, recorded or passed or;
- Impropriety in any finding, sentence or order, recorded or passed or;
- Irregularity in any proceedings of such inferior Court.
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But the power of revision can’t be exercised against any interlocutory order as it is barred for revision by Section 397(2) of CrPC.
Now, the question arises whether the courts in their power of revision can make an order for the enhancement of the sentence?
Primarily, the appellate courts have the power for the enhancement of the sentence under Section 386(c) of CrPC when the appeal is filed by the State under Section 377 of CrPC. The same power is granted to be exercised by the High Courts for the revision of an order under Section 401(1) of CrPC. Subsequently, the power of revision given to High Court as per Section 401(1) can be exercised by the Session Judge as provided in Section 399 (1) of CrPC. Also, the accused would get the opportunity of being heard before passing of any order under Section 401 or Section 399.
It is important to note here that Section 401(4) bars the proceedings of revision in case the person has the right to appeal against that particular order or he has failed to file such an appeal.
In conclusion, the victim doesn’t have the right to appeal for the enhancement of sentence but he has the right to seek revision for such an enhancement of sentence. It can be said that when the victim has been put at a place of disadvantage by taking away the right to approach the court against the inadequate sentence in an appeal, the same right has been given to the victim in the way of right of revision.
 Criminal Appeal No. 555 of 2020