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  • The Hon’ble SC, in the case of Joseph Stephen vs Santhanasamy has held that the right of appeal that has been provided to the accused under section 372 of CrPC is an absolute right and no special leave is necessary in this case, as is needed in section 378(4) of CrPC. Additionally, the Court has also held that the HC, in the exercise of revisional jurisdiction under section 401 CrPC, cannot convert an acquittal into conviction.
  • In the instant case, the CJM, Tiruchirapalli convicted the accused under sections 147, 148, 324, 326 IPC and passed an order of acquittal under section 307 and 506(ii) of IPC. The accused appealed against this order and was acquitted of all charges by the first appellate Court and the criminal appeals filed by the victim against acquittal under 307 and 506(ii)
  • IPC were also rejected.
  • Aggrieved, the victim filed a revisional application under section 307 read with section 401 of CrPC. The HC reversed the decision of the lower Court and upheld the order of conviction passed by the trial Court.
  • The Hon’ble SC, in an appeal by the accused, has held that the HC, in the exercise of its power of revision cannot convert an order of acquittal into one of conviction.
  • As regards the question as to whether the victim has a right to file a revisional application under 401 CrPC when the right of appeal has been provided under section 372 CrPC, the Hon’ble Court relied upon the judgement of the SC in Mallikarjun Kodagali vs. State of Karnataka (2019)2 SCC and observed that the insertion of the proviso to section 372 CrPC has made it abundantly clear that the victim has a statutory right to prefer an appeal against an order of acquittal. In case an order of acquittal is passed in a case instituted upon a complaint, the complainant (other than the victim) can appeal against the same after obtaining the leave of the HC under section 378(4) of CrPC.
  • The Court also held that there is no need to obtain a special leave under 372 CrPC as is required under 378(4) of CrPC, thus holding that the right of appeal granted to the victim is absolute and unqualified.
  • Thus, according to the Apex Court, no application of revision would be maintainable in cases in which an appeal can be filed. It can also be noted that the same is provided under section 401(4) of CrPC, which states that when an appeal lies but is not filed, no proceedings by way of revision can be entertained at the instance of the party who could have appealed.
  • This is also beneficial for the applicant, the Court observed, as the powers granted to a Court under revision are very limited, whereas the powers granted under an appeal have a very wide ambit.
  • Thus, the Apex Court remitted the matter to the HC to treat the application of revision as an application of appeal, a right to which can be drawn from section 401(5) of CrPC and to decide the case on its merits, as the same would be in the interest of justice.
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