Inform victims about acquittal of accused, Bombay HC directs trial courts
The bench said the DMs have the mechanism and manpower, which can be judiciously utilised to provide the copies of judgements to the victims.Updated: Jul 18, 2020 18:10 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday directed all trial courts in Maharashtra to inform the victims of the outcome of the trials, whenever the accused are acquitted in a bid to ensure that the victim can effectively exercise h/his right to appeal against the verdict.
“It is a common experience that in most of the cases the informants (victims of crimes) are not so well educated or come from a stratum of the society that lacks awareness and nuances involved in the legal proceedings,” said a two-member division bench, comprising Justices SS Shinde and VG Night, highlighting the importance to inform the victims in time about the acquittal of the accused.
It has directed that the office of a district magistrate (DM) in Maharashtra shall ensure that a copy of the judgement is provided to the victim of crime, whenever criminal trials lead to acquittals in a bid to ensure that the victims can exercise their right to an appeal in time.
The bench attached the liability on the state’s DMs.
It cited Section 365 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of trial courts, where magistrate and sessions courts are mandated to forthwith provide a copy of a judgement in a criminal trial to a DM within whose jurisdiction the trial is held.
The bench said the DMs have the mechanism and manpower, which can be judiciously utilised to provide the copies of judgements to the victims.
In order to ensure that the directive is scrupulously complied with, the bench has directed all trial courts across Maharashtra to maintain a register and to record in it all the relevant dates such as the delivery of the judgement, dispatch to the office of a DM, and the receipt of the copy by the victim.
The directives were issued following a plea filed by Ranjana Suryavanshi (56), a Dharavi resident, seeking to condone the 717-day delay in filing an appeal against the acquittal of her son-in-law Jayprakash Gupta.
Gupta was tried on charges of killing his wife and Suryavanshi’s daughter and was acquitted by a Mumbai city civil and sessions court on March 13, 2014.
Last year, she belatedly moved court against the appeal.
Her counsel, senior advocate Rajiv Chavan, pointed out that the 717-day delay occurred, as the applicant was illiterate and had very meagre means of sustenance.
The HC accepted the submission and condoned the delay. The bench said the delay appears to be huge, but “we cannot be oblivious of applicant’s social status and financial condition”.
The judges said the “cause” shown by the applicant for condoning the delay must be held to be sufficient under the circumstances of the case.
The bench also accepted Chavan’s argument that no timeframe has been prescribed for the victim to prefer an appeal in terms of proviso to Section 372 of the CrPC against the acquittal of the accused.