Bench: Justice T.S. Thakur and V. Gopala Gowda
The Appellant submitted a written complaint regarding the death of his daughter to the Addl. Superintendent of Police. The trial court after the examination of evidence on record passed the judgment acquitting all the accused of the charges levied against them for the offences punishable Under Sections 498A and 304B of Indian Penal Code, and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The Appellant approached the High Court being aggrieved of the decision of the trial court, against the order of acquittal of Respondent.
The High Court upheld the trial court's decision of acquittal of all the accused persons and while concluding judgment, mechanically disposed of the appeal by passing an order without examining as to whether the leave to file an appeal filed by the Appellant as provided Under Sub-section (3) to Section 378 of Code of Criminal Procedure can be granted or not. The Appellant challenged the impugned judgment and order of the High Court before the Supreme Court.
The Appellant contended the failure on the part of the High Court to re-appreciate the evidence which was clear from a perusal of the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court, without adverting to the legal contentions and evidence on record. The High Court in a very mechanical way stated that after a perusal of the evidence on record it found no reason to interfere with the decision of the trial court as the prosecution has failed to establish the charges levied against the accused beyond reasonable doubt and it has dismissed the appeal by passing a cryptic order.
The Hon’ble Court observed that there is no doubt that the Appellant, being the father of the deceased, has locus standi to prefer an appeal before the High Court under proviso to Section 372 of Code of Criminal Procedure as he falls within the definition of victim as defined Under Section 2(wa) of Code of Criminal Procedure to question the correctness of the judgment and order of acquittal passed by the trial court in favor of Respondent. The court concluded that there is no need for the victim in terms of definition Under Section 2(wa) of Code of Criminal Procedure to seek the leave of the High Court as required Under Sub-section (3) of Section 378 of Code of Criminal Procedure to prefer an appeal under proviso to Section 372 of Code of Criminal Procedure.
In the present case it was held that, the impugned judgment and order of the High Court is not sustainable in law and the same is liable to be set aside by this Court and the case is required to be remanded to the High Court to hear the Appellant with regard to grant of leave to file an appeal as the Appellant is legal heir of the victim as defined Under Section 2(wa) of Code of Criminal Procedure and dispose of the appeal exercising its appellate jurisdiction keeping in view the serious nature of the charges levied against the accused.
Amendment to the provision of Section 372 of Code of Criminal Procedure was prompted by 154th Law Commission Report which took a comprehensive review of Code of Criminal Procedure and its recommendations were found to be very appropriate in amending the Code of Criminal Procedure particularly in relation to provisions concerning arrest, custody and remand, procedure to be followed in summons and warrant-cases, compounding of offences and special protection in respect of women and inquiry and trial of persons of unsound mind. The Law Commission in its report has noted the relevant aspect of the matter namely that the victims are the worst sufferers in a crime and they do not have much role in the Court proceedings. They need to be given certain rights and compensation so that there is no distortion of the criminal justice system. Therefore, the Parliament on the basis of the aforesaid Report of the Law Commission, which is victim oriented in approach, as amended certain provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and in that amendment the proviso to Section 372 of Code of Criminal Procedure was added to confer the statutory right upon the victim to prefer an appeal before the High Court against acquittal order, or an order convicting the accused for the lesser offence or against the order imposing inadequate compensation.