Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Hemant Kumar Srivastava Prabhat Kumar Singh, JJ. dismissed an appeal on the admission stage itself since they did not find any faults in the findings of the trial court.

A criminal appeal was preferred under the proviso of Section 372 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 against the Judgment of acquittal by which the respondents were acquitted from charges framed under Section 304-B of the Penal Code, 1860.

The appellant claimed that his daughter, namely, Najma Khatoon who was married to the respondent 3, six years ago but, the respondent’s 2, 3 and 4 started misbehaving with his daughter and, she was killed by respondent’s 2, 3 and 4. The appellant further claimed that as soon as he was informed about the death of his daughter went to her in-laws’ house and found that the body of his daughter was lying in a room and had marks of assault on it. It was also submitted that the respondent’s 2, 3 and 4 forcibly buried the body.

The respondents were charged for the offence punishable under Section 304-B of the IPC. In the course of the trial, ten prosecution witnesses were examined and some documents were also exhibited. The trial court having evaluated the evidences available on the record came to the conclusion that prosecution did not succeed to prove all the ingredients of Section 304-B of the IPC and accordingly, the learned trial court acquitted the respondent’s 2, 3 and 4.

The learned counsel for the appellant submitted that during the course of trial, appellant, as well as some other prosecution witnesses, had supported the prosecution’s story stating that deceased the was subjected to cruelty and harassment by respondents’s 2, 3 and 4 due to non-fulfillment of the illegal dowry demand, she was killed by the respondents. The witnesses also claimed that they had seen injury marks on the person of the deceased when they had visited the house of respondents 2, 3 and 4 after receiving information regarding the death.

On perusal of the impugned Judgment, the Court held that the learned trial court noticed that the appellant had filed a complaint case after one month of the alleged occurrence and although the prosecution witnesses claimed to have seen the injuries on the person of the deceased just after her death, none of them made any attempt to report the matter to concerned police station immediately after noticing the injuries. The trial court had no grounds to believe the witnesses as there was not a single shred of paper to prove that the deceased had sustained injuries. The appellant had not disclosed the factum of dowry in his complaint petition and the aforesaid story was introduced during the course of the trial.

In view of the above-noted facts, the instant appeal was dismissed since the Court did not find any perversity in the findings of the trial court.[Mohammad Hanif v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1683, decided on 24-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Prashant Kumar Mishra and Gautam Chourdiya, JJ.,  dismissed an application for “condonation of delay in filing acquittal appeal” on finding no satisfactory explanation for a delay of almost thirteen and a half years.

The present application was filed for condonation of delay in filing the acquittal appeal. The appeal was against the acquittal of respondents 2 to 14 from the charge under Sections 302, 147, 148/149, 452, 325, 323 and 427 of Penal Code, 1860 rendered by Additional Sessions Judge vide its judgment is barred by a delay of 5010 days – more than thirteen and a half years.

Appellant in the present matter is the wife of the deceased who was done to death by 16 accused persons including respondents 2 to 14. Trial Court acquitted the present 13 respondents and convicted only 3 of them.

Counsel for the appellant, Ashok Varma submitted that no period of limitations is prescribed for filing appeal under Section 372 of CrPC, therefore, family members of the victim/deceased are entitled to file an appeal at any point of time. Further added that, the appellant had valid and sufficient reasons for not preferring the appeal within a reasonable time as after the date of the incident, the accused persons were threatening the appellant and other members of the family to leave the village otherwise they will meet the same fate like deceased.

Counsel for the appellant to support his contention relied on the case of Mithilesh Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, ACQA No. 96 of 2012 & Dineshbhai Makwana v. State of Gujarat, 2013 Cri.L.J. 4225.

Learned Panel Lawyer, Avinash Choubey representing the State, Counsel Anjinesh Shukla, representing the respondents 2 to 14 vehemently opposed the prayer fro condonation of delay. They contended that the appellant has suddenly decided to file an appeal for no reason, therefore, the present is a case where the appeal deserves to dismissed either as barred by limitation or on the ground of delay and laches.

Held

The High Court, in view of the stated facts and submissions, stated that three accused who have been found to be the real perpetrators were convicted by the trial court, therefore, there does not appeal to be any real or tangible threat to the appellant or her family members. Moreover, no complaint or report was annexed with the application in support of the submission that there was threat extended to the appellant or her family members.

Taking in reference to the case relied upon the counsel for the appellant, i.e. Mithilesh Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, ACQA No. 96 of 2012, it was stated that

“Even if no period of limitation is prescribed under Section 372 CrPC an appeal against acquittal has to be preferred with reasonable time from the date of knowledge.”

Court noted that, counsel for appellant fairly submitted that the appellant was aware of the judgment soon after its delivery as respondents 2 to 14 started threatening the appellant soon after the judgment.

Thus, the Court in view of the above submitted that the appeal should have been filed within 90 days after the impugned judgment. The present is a case where the delay is not of a few months, but the delay is of almost more than 13 and a half years. Court added to their decision that, there is no satisfactory explanation for causing such enormous delay in filing the acquittal appeal.

Hence, the instant acquittal appeal on grounds of unexplained delay and laches is dismissed.[Anand Mati Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 92, decided on 03-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: Rumi Kumari Phukan, J. dismissed an application seeking leave to appeal against an Assistant Sessions Judge’s order of acquittal, holding that the forum for preferring such an appeal would be the Court of Sessions Judge and not the High Court. 

The petitioner (herein) in the instant case alleged before the trial court that the accused persons had forcefully kidnapped his daughter while she was returning from college. She was also kept confined by them. As a result, the petitioner registered complaint under Section 366 read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860. Learned Assistant Sessions Judge acquitted all the accused persons. Aggrieved by this order of acquittal the petitioner preferred the present application under Section 378(3) of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 seeking leave to file an appeal against the acquittal order.

The counsel for the petitioner, A.T. Sarkar, placed reliance upon the decision rendered in Satyapal Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2015) 15 SCC 613, while preferring appeal under 378(3) of CrPC. He contended, “even though the victim has a right to prefer an appeal against the order of acquittal u/s 372 CrPC but same can be filed only after obtaining leave of the Court as required under sub-section 3 of Section 378 CrPC.” 

The Court after perusing the legal provisions and pronouncements observed, “it appears that there is a confusion in the mind of the petitioner that he has to seek for leave to prefer the appeal in view of the decision in Satypal Singh case.” It was further observed, “As the appeal sought to be preferred against the order of the learned Assistant Sessions Judge so the appeal will lie to the Court of learned Sessions Judge.” Thus, the Court taking into consideration the bona fide nature of application by quoting the provision under Section 378(3) of CrPC, opined that the petitioner was not debarred to prefer the appeal to which he was entitled under the statute. The Court held, “the petitioner herein being the informant has a right to prefer an appeal u/s 372 (proviso) CrPC and he being the informant in the GR Case he cannot be equated as complainant within the purview of Section 378 (3) of CrPC and no leave is required to prefer such appeal.”

In light of the above, the Court dismissed the instant appeal but granted him liberty to prefer an appeal in the Court of concerned Sessions Judge.[Akhtar Mirza v. State of Assam, 2019 SCC OnLine Gau 2295, decided on 14-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Bench of Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed by the prosecutrix under Section 372 CrPC challenging the trial court’s judgment whereby the accused was acquitted of the charge of rape.

Simran Sadyora and Sanjeev Bhatia, Advocates, representing the prosecutrix, submitted that the trial court failed to appreciate that there is a presumption under Section 114-A of the Evidence Act as to absence of consent in a case for prosecution of the offence under Section 376 IPC and consequently the onus to prove that he had not committed the offence under Section 376(2)(n) had shifted to the accused.

At the outset, the High Court observed: “the presumption under Section 114-A of the Evidence Act would only be attracted if the factum of sexual intercourse is proved.” It was noted that the prosecutrix had refused an internal medical examination. the Court was also of the opinion that her testimony was highly unreliable, untrustworthy and inspired no confidence. It was noted further that the delay in registering FIR was not successfully explained. Also, she made 529 calls to the accused between the dates of the alleged rape and filing of the complaint. Her acts were inconsistent with her allegations. Moreover, the factum of sexual intercourse remained not proved. Keeping on view such and other findings, the Court held that the accused was entitled to be given benefit of doubt. Hence, the appeal was dismissed. [Rachna Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8519, decided on 13-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan: The appellate court had allowed the appeal of the respondent-complainant under Sections 372 and 378 CrPC and set aside the acquittal of the appellant recorded by the trial court and convicted the appellant under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. This decision of the learned appellate court was challenged by the appellant.

Learned counsel for the appellants contended that the learned Sessions Judge had no jurisdiction to entertain the appeal against acquittal preferred by the respondent complainant. Drawing attention of the Court to the Hon’ble Division Bench Judgment dated 2.12.2014 rendered in the case of Dhanne Singh v. State of Rajasthan, 2014 SCC OnLine Raj 5499, he urged that the only remedy available to the complainant was to file an application for grant of leave to appeal before the High Court under Section 378(iv) CrPC. He further contended that the impugned judgment is per se without jurisdiction and bad in the eye of law and thus deserved to be set aside.

The Court held that in a suit where the jurisdiction to entertain a challenge to an order of acquittal in a complaint case is questioned, the complainant can only avail the remedy of filing an application for grant of leave to appeal against the judgment of acquittal in the High Court under Section 378(iv) CrPC and opined that the Sessions Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the victim’s appeal under Section 372 CrPC when the acquittal was recorded in a complaint case.

The Bench of Sandeep Mehta, J. set aside the impugned judgment dated 30.10.2015 passed by the learned District and Sessions Judge, Dungarpur and upheld the acquittal of the appellant recorded by the trial court vide judgment dated 19.9.2013. [Praveen Kumar v. The State of Rajasthan, 2017 SCC OnLine Raj 2209, decided on 9.8.2017]