‘It is the responsibility of the state to bring the accused to law but in such process the actual sufferer of crime cannot be permitted to stay outside the law and to watch the proceedings from hindsight.’
The Madhya Pradesh High Court in Mahesh Pahade vs. State of MP has held that a victim of crime has a right to seek cancellation of bail/order of suspension of sentence.
A bench of Chief Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla held thus while considering the maintainability of an application seeking cancellation of an order of suspension of sentence filed by the victim in the criminal appeal preferred by the convict.
The accused, who was convicted by the trial court for sexually exploiting his niece, had preferred appeal before the high court. The application filed by the accused seeking suspension of sentence was allowed by the high court. The victim, then approached the high court contending that he was granted bail on the basis of additional document, which could not have been taken into consideration at the stage of consideration of the application for suspension of sentence and that too without giving any opportunity to the victim to controvert the allegation, which was pertaining to the age of the prosecutrix.
The counsel for the accused-appellant questioned the very maintainability of such an application by the prosecutrix contending that even if a victim has been given right to file an appeal against an order of acquittal in terms of proviso to Section 372 of the Code, she does not become entitled to seek cancellation of bail. A recent judgment by the apex court in The High Court Of Judicature Of Hyderabad For The State Of Telangana And The State Of Andhra Pradesh vs. Mahabunisa Begum & Others was also cited in support of arguments. It was also contended that only the public prosecutor can file an application for cancellation of bail.
The bench referred to provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and various case laws on the subject and observed it is the responsibility of the state to bring the accused to law but in such process the actual sufferer of crime cannot be permitted to stay outside the law and to watch the proceedings from hindsight.
It will be travesty of justice if the victims of such heinous crime are denied right to address their grievances before the courts of law, the bench remarked. The bench also referred to Declaration of "Basic Principles of Justice of Victim for Crime and Abuse of Power" adopted in the 96th plenary meeting of the General Assembly on 29th November 1985.
The bench also referred to apex court judgment in Puran vs. Rambilas wherein the issue was about the maintainability of application for cancellation of bail filed by the father of the deceased. The bench observed: “In view of the aforesaid judgment, which pertains to era prior to amendment in Section 372 of the Code giving right to a victim to file an appeal against the order of conviction, clearly gives right to the prosecutrix, a victim of heinous crime on her person to approach this Court for cancellation of bail.”
Holding that application filed by prosecutrix is maintainable, the bench observed: “Once right of appeal has been given to a victim, it shall include all ancillary rights which are attached with the right to appeal. Such right to appeal will include right to seek cancellation of bail if the victim is aggrieved against such an order… In view of the above, we find that the victim has a right to seek cancellation of an order of suspension of sentence, as it is her rights and honour, which is in issue apart from the crime against humanity protected by the State.”