Victim entitled to file appeal without the leave of the Court against the accused’s acquittal, Delhi HC

Victim entitled to file appeal without the leave of the Court against the accused’s acquittal, Delhi HC

Aditi Singh

Reiterating a decision of the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court has stated that a victim of an offence or his/her legal heirs and guardian are entitled to challenge an order of acquittal or conviction for a lesser offence or inadequate compensation under Section 372 of Criminal Procedure Code, by way of a ‘Criminal Appeal’ before it. Such victim need not file ‘Criminal Leave Petition’.

Whenever a victim of an offence files a ‘criminal leave petition’, the same shall be treated as ‘criminal appeal’ by the Registry. The Registry shall raise objection at the time of clearing the petition so that the counsel for the petition can correct the defect right away.

The order was passed by a Division Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Vinod Goel while hearing a ‘criminal leave petition’ by the father of the deceased. He had assailed the acquittal of all the accused persons who were being tried for offences under Sections 302, 201, 34 of Indian Penal Code.

The Court noted that in spite of the decision of the Supreme Court in Mallikarjun Kodagali vs. State of Karnataka [(2019) 2 SCC 752], which held that apart from the State, a victim could also file an appeal against the acquittal of the accused, without seeking the leave of the appellate court, the practice of filing criminal leave petitions was still prevalent.

It has come to our notice that despite the above legal position, the Registry has not been raising any objections as to the maintainability of Criminal Leave Petitions like the present one, filed by the victims and/or his/her legal heirs/guardians when such a right has been vested in them by virtue of the captioned decision.

It thus directed the High Court Registry to comply with the direction of the Supreme Court and treat all Criminal Leave Petitions filed by the victim of an offence and/or his/her legal heirs/guardian as a regular Criminal Appeal filed under Section 372 CrPC.

Wherever necessary, an objection shall be raised at the time of clearing a petition for listing in court so that the defect can be removed by the concerned counsel right away, the Court added.

The Court has also directed for circulation of the decision of the Supreme Court by way of a notice in the Cause List.

Read the order:

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