Delhi High Court has clarified the position of law on the right of the victim to file an appeal under section 372 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The court has held that the said the provision doesn't allow the victim to file an appeal for enhancement of sentence imposed on the convicted person.
While denying the victim the right to move such an appeal, Justice Vibhu Bakhru went on to note that victim can invoke her right under proviso to section 372 of CrPC only in there circumstances:
In the present case, the Respondent victim had moved a complaint against the Petitioner accused for hitting her with an iron rod and hurling abuses at her.
On 03/03/2015, when the matter came before the trial court, the Petitioner accused pleaded guilty of an offence under section 323 citing his inability to continue with the litigation. Consequently, trial court passed an order convicting him under the said section.
Aggrieved by this decision, the Respondent victim had then preferred an appeal before the Additional Sessions Judge, complaining that the Petitioner accused ought to have been convicted under section 325 of the IPC. On 14.01.2016, ASJ allowed the appeal and remanded the matter to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.
The CMM convicted the Petitioner accused under section 325 of IPC and also directed him to pay compensation. However, on the day of paying the compensation, the Respondent victim refused to accept the same. The court further declared that no disqualification would be attracted in terms of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, and that the conviction would not have any adverse effect
on the petitioner's service.
Aggrieved by the quantum of sentence, the Respondent victim then moved an appeal under section 372 of CrPC before the ASJ. The said ASJ passed an order saying that the CMM ought to have altered the charge and conducted the trial after altering the charge to Section 325 of the IPC. The Court also noted that the Petitioner accused had pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 323 of the IPC and not to an offence under Section 325.
The matter was remanded to the CMM for proceeding with the case in accordance with law after altering the charge.
Therefore, the issue before this court was whether an appeal under Section 372 of the CrPC was maintainable at the instance of Respondent victim?
The Respondent victim relied upon the decision in Mallikarjun Kodagali Legal Representatives v. State of Karnataka to argue that by virtue of section 372, a victim would always have the right to challenge an order passed by the Trial Court imposing an inadequate sentence convicting the accused.
It was further argued that simply because the State had not filed an appeal, the victim could not be rendered remediless.
The counsel for the Petitioner accused, on the other hand, argued that proviso to Section 372 of the CrPC does not entitle the victim to file an appeal on account of inadequacy of sentence.
He referred to the decision in National Commission for Women v. State of Delhi to argue that an appeal on the said ground could only be filed by the State.
While perusing the position of law in this matter, the court highlighted that the proviso to Section 372 of the CrPC does not contemplate an appeal against an order of a Court imposing an inadequate sentence/punishment. Moreover, the said provision only provides a limited right to the victim to file an appeal.
The court also relied upon the decision of the Gujarat High Court in Bhavuben Dineshbhai Makwana v. State of Gujarat to highlight that victim can file an appeal against inadequate compensation but not against inadequate sentence.
[Read Judgment Here]