Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. allowed a petition filed against the order of the Appellate Court whereby petitioner’s appeal, against his conviction under Section 392 IPC recorded by the trial court, was dismissed on the sole ground of limitation.

The petitioner pleaded before the Appellate Court that being a poor person and in custody, he was unable to approach either the legal aid or to engage a private counsel, and therefore he couldn’t file the appeal in time. The Appellate Court noticed that during the trial the petitioner was represented by a private counsel and therefore disbelieved his explanation.

The High Court was of the view that the Appellate Court committed an error in not condoning the delay. It was said that the fact that the petitioner was represented by a private counsel before the trial court would not ipso facto imply that he had sufficient funds to engage a private counsel or appropriate legal advice to file an appeal within limitation. It was observed: “Courts have to take a liberal approach, when appeals against conviction are filed, with some delay, by persons who are in custody. Delay does not work to the advantage of the person incarcerated. People who are incarcerated do not have the advantage that a free person has, of approaching a counsel and taking legal advice at one own free will.”

It was said further: “We live in a society where the families of a poor person in custody and families of those coming from remote areas of the country are not even aware of their legal rights and even if aware, may not have the capacity or resources to approach a counsel for legal advice or approach courts for legal aid. Courts cannot adopt a hyper-technical approach, while considering an application seeking condonation of delay filed against conviction by a person in custody.” In such view of the matter, the Court quashed the impugned order and restored the petitioner’s appeal to the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge. [Rakesh Kumar v. State (NCT Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8779, decided on 30-05-2019]

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