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Victim’s right to appeal against acquittal of accused upheld in light of amendment to S. 372 CrPC

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
NAGPUR BENCH : NAGPUR.

Criminal Revision Application No. 182 of 2018

Ku. Ragini d/o Rajesh Chourasia
a/a 27 yrs., Occ. – Private Job
r/o 3rd Floor, Annapurna Niwas,
Nr. Butter Restaurant, Civil Line, Gondia
Tah. & Dist.- Gondia. …. Revisionist

– Versus –

(1) The State of Maharashtra through
the P.S.O. of P.S. Ramnagar, Gondia,Tah. & Dist.- Gondia.

(2) Hiranand s/o Gajanmal Gurnani
a/a 75 yrs., Occ.- Business,
r/o Sindhi Colony, Gondia Tah. & Dist.- Gondia. …. Respondents

Shri R. K. Borkar, Advocate for the revisionist/applicant
Shri H. D. Dubey, APP for the respondent no. 1
Shri Vivek Awchat, Advocate for the respondent no. 2

CORAM : M. G. GIRATKAR, J.
DATE : 23/04/2019
ORAL JUDGMENT

Heard learned counsel appearing for the respective parties.

2. The applicant has challenged the judgment of acquittal in Regular Criminal Case No. 135/2016 before the Sessions Judge, Gondia.

The applicant is victim of the crime.

The respondent no. 2 was prosecuted for the offences punishable under Sections 354-A, 354-D, 323 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code. After recording the evidence, learned Judicial Magistrate First Class, Court No. 2, Gondia acquitted the accused/respondent no. 2 for the said offences. Therefore, the applicant approached to the Sessions Judge, Gondia. By judgment dated 21-6-2018, learned Additional Sessions Judge, Gondia dismissed the appeal on the ground that it is not maintainable in view of the provisions of Section 372 and Section 378(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.).

3. Heard learned counsel Shri Borkar for the applicant. He has pointed out judgment in the case of Mallikarjun Kodagali (Dead) through Lrs Vs. State of Karnataka and ors. reported in AIR 2018 SC 5206 and submitted that offence took place in the year 2016. The judgment of acquittal was passed by Judicial Magistrate First Class on 31-7-2017. Amendment to Section 372 of Cr.P.C. came into force in the year 2009. Therefore, appeal before the Sessions Court is maintainable.

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4. Heard Shri Dubey, learned Additional Public Prosecutor for the respondent no. 1. He has supported the impugned order. Learned counsel Shri Awchat for the respondent no. 2 also supported the 3 jg.revn 182.18.odt impugned order.

5. Before 2009, there was no provision of filing appeal by the victim before the first appellate Court but after amendment in the year 2009, the victim can challenge the order of acquittal passed by Judicial Magistrate First Class before the Sessions Judge.

6. Section 372 of Cr.P.C. reads as under :

372. No appeal to lie unless otherwise provided. – No appeal shall lie from any judgment or order of a Criminal Court except as provided for by this Code or by any other law for the time being in force :
[Provided that the victim shall have a right to prefer an appeal against any order passed by the Court acquitting the accused or convicting for a lesser offence or imposing inadequate compensation, and such appeal shall lie to the Court to which an appeal ordinarily lies against the order of conviction of such Court.]
7. In the present case, the appeal against the acquittal for the offences punishable under Sections 354-A and D, 323 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code lies to the Sessions Court. Therefore, in view of the provisions of Section 372 of the Cr.P.C., Sessions Court ought to have entertained the appeal. Hence, revision is allowed.

8. The impugned order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Gondia below applications, Exhibit Nos. 11 and 12 dated 21-6-2018 in Criminal Appeal No. 21/2017 is hereby quashed and set aside. The Sessions Court is directed to entertain the appeal and decide it as per law.

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