Tell victims about acquittal of accused: Bombay HC to trial courts
The court has directed that the office of the district magistrate should ensure that a copy of the judgment is provided to the victim, whenever criminal trials result in acquittals so that the victims can exercise their right to appeal in time.Updated: Jul 19, 2020 13:46 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday directed all trial courts to inform victims whenever the accused persons are acquitted so that the victim can effectively exercise his or her right to appeal against the verdict of the trial.
“It is a common experience that in most cases, informants [victims of crimes] are not well educated or come from a stratum of society that lacks awareness and nuances involved in the proceedings,” said the bench of justice SS Shinde and justice VG Night, highlighting the importance of informing the victims in time about the acquittal of accused persons.
The court has directed that the office of the district magistrate should ensure that a copy of the judgment is provided to the victim, whenever criminal trials result in acquittals so that the victims can exercise their right to appeal in time.
The bench fastened the liability on the district magistrates, as under section 365 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), trial courts are mandated to provide a copy of their judgments in criminal trials to the district magistrate within whose jurisdiction the trial is held.
The bench noted that district magistrates have the mechanism and manpower to provide copies of judgments to the victims.
To ensure that the directive is scrupulously complied with, the bench has directed all trial courts across Maharashtra to maintain a register to record all relevant dates –date of delivery of the judgment, date of dispatch to the office of the district magistrate, and date of receipt of the verdict copy by the victim.
The directives were issued on a plea filed by 56-year-old Dharavi resident Ranjana Suryavanshi, seeking condonation of a delay of 717 days in filing an appeal against the acquittal of her son-in-law Jayprakash Gupta.
Gupta had been tried for murdering his wife – Suryavanshi’s daughter – and had been acquitted by the Mumbai sessions court on March 13, 2014.
Suryavanshi, however, belatedly appealed against the acquittal last year.
Her counsel, senior advocate Rajiv Chavan, pointed out that the delay occurred as the 56-year-old applicant was illiterate and financially weak. Chavan argued that the appeal delay should be condoned based on these grounds.
HC accepted the submission and condoned the delay. The bench said the delay appears to be huge, but “we cannot be oblivious of the applicant’s social status and financial condition”. The bench also accepted Chavan’s argument that no period of limitation had 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.