Calcutta High Court on Tuesday fixed a time limit of 60 days for filing appeal by a victim against acquittal of the accused or inadequate grant of compensation by any trial court from the date of knowledge of such judgment.
Justices Tapen Sen and MK Sinha also directed that now as soon as an accused or accused are acquitted, a trial court shall immediately send a copy of judgment to the district magistrate, who would immediately forward it to the concerned victim or his/ her family member to enable them file appeal within 60 days from the date of its receipt.
“In our view, by not fixing a time limit for appeal by victim would have serious repercussion and could mean that such appeal can be filed by the victim or his/ her parents at any point of time.
It would also create a monstrous situation for accused who have been acquitted or for those who may have faced a false charge. There may be risk that the complainant may even blackmail such people by filing an appeal at any point of time and as per their convenience,” the judges said.
Welcoming the ruling, top criminal advocate Sekha Basu said that it’s a landmark judgment first of its kind in Calcutta high court and provides ways and means to millions of victims seek justice against unwanted acquittal, inadequate compensation or sentence awarded by the trial courts.
“This ruling will also help the victims get a free copy of the judgment of acquittal or award of compensation immediately to enable them to file appeal. It will also prevent abuse of process of law by unscrupulous person by filing appeal after expiry of a long period to harass or blackmail the innocent person acquitted in false cases.” Basu said.
The ruling came on a batch of appeals filed by the victims or complainants against the acquittal of the accused persons by the trial courts after expiry of a long period of such judgments.
Assisting the court, Basu had argued that although the parliament has amended the criminal law by making provision under Section 372 of the Cr.P.C. for filing appeal by the victims or their family members against the acquittal of the accused or inadequate compensation by any trial court, but did not fix the time limit for filing such appeal, which resulted in filing of appeal by the victims even after a long period of time.
The CID investigating officer in Kamduni rape-murder case in the high court for filing a petition within two weeks of filing the charge sheet, seeking direction upon the trial judge for speedy trial without any valid reason.
Justice Ashim Kumar Roy also questioned the conduct of CID officer A nanda may Chatterjee for not applying to the trial court for proceeding against eight accused in custody in the absence of an accused who is absconding.
The judge, however, concluded hearing on the petition filed by the CID for speedy trial and adjourned till July 24 the hearing on the petition filed by the eight accused through their advocates Phiroze Edulji and Sanjib Dan for transfer of the case.
Opposing the CID’s petition, the victim’s family advocates Bikash Bhattacharya and Jayanta Narayan Chatterjee told the court that it has been filed by the investigating officer to frustrate the public interest litigation (PIL) petition for the proper investigation by any other agency.
“There is also no mention in the petition as to who has been causing delay in trial. This is nothing but a pressure tactic on the trial judge, who had pulled up the CID for filing an incomplete charge sheet and threatened to refer the case to high court for CBI probe,” Bhattacharya said.
“The parliament has already made provision under Section 309 of the Cr.P.C. for completing the trial in rape case within two months.
Therefore, there is no need of passing any order for speedy trial at this stage,” Edulji said.