Right of the Victim including in private complaint has right to file appeal

In its judgment in Satyapal Singh v. State of M.P. & Ors. [2015 (4) MLJ (Crl.) 219 (SC)], in para 11, it observed as follows:-

“The Full Bench of the High Court of Delhi after examining the relevant provisions under Section 2(wa) and proviso to Section 372 of Cr.P.C., in the light of their legislative history has held that the right to prefer an appeal conferred upon the victim or relatives of the victim by virtue of proviso to Section 372 is an independent statutory right. Therefore, it has held that there is no need for the victim in terms of definition under Section 2(wa) of Cr.P.C. to seek the leave of the High Court as required under Sub-Section (3) of Section 378 of Cr.P.C. to prefer an appeal under proviso to Section 372 of Cr.P.C. The said view of the High Court is not legally correct for the reason that the substantive provision of Section 372 of Cr.P.C. clearly provides that no appeal shall lie from any judgment and order of a Criminal Court except as provided for by Cr.P.C. Further, Sub-Section (3) to Section 378 of Cr.P.C. provides that for preferring an appeal to the High Court against an order of acquittal it is necessary to obtain its leave.”

Further, it also held thus :

“Thus, from a reading of the above-said legal position laid down by this Court in the cases referred to supra, it is abundantly clear that the proviso to Section 372 of Cr.P.C. must be read along with its main enactment i.e., Section 372 itself and together with Sub-Section (3) to Section 378 of Cr.P.C. otherwise the substantive provision of Section 372 of Cr.P.C. will be rendered nugatory, as it clearly states that no appeal shall lie from any judgment or order of a Criminal Court except as provided by Cr.P.C.

Thus, to conclude on the legal issue, it was held thus :

“Whether the appellant herein, being the father of the deceased, has statutory right to prefer an appeal to the High Court against the order of acquittal under proviso to Section 372 of Cr.P.C. without obtaining the leave of the High Court as required under Sub-Section (3) to Section 378 of Cr.P.C.”, this Court is of the view that the right of questioning the correctness of the judgment and order of acquittal by preferring an appeal to the High Court is conferred upon the victim including the legal heir , as defined under Section 2(wa) of Cr.P.C., under proviso to Section 372, but only after obtaining the leave of the High Court as required under sub-Section (3) to Section 378 of Cr.P.C. The High Court of M.P. has failed to deal with this important legal aspect of the matter while passing the impugned judgment and order.”

Summary by the Editor

(1) A victim of the crime, who has prosecuted an accused by way of a private complaint, has a statutory right of appeal within the limits prescribed under Section 372 of Cr.P.C.

(2) A complainant (in a private complaint), who is not a victim, has a remedy and can file an appeal in the event of acquittal of the accused after obtaining leave to appeal under Section 378(4) of Cr.P.C

(3) In a private complaint, even if the victim is not a complainant, he has a right to appeal under the proviso to Section 372 of Cr.P.C., but he has to seek leave as held by the Supreme Court in Satyapal Singh.

(4) The term “victim” has been correctly interpreted by the Full Bench of the Delhi High Court in Ramphal and we are in agreement with the same.

(5) A victim (as defined under Section 2(wa) of the Cr.P.C does not cease to be a victim merely because he also happens to be a complainant and he can avail all the rights and privileges of a victim also and

(6) The decision of the Single Judge in Selvaraj holding that the term “victim” found in Section 372 excludes a complainant, is not legally correct and in a given case, a complainant, who is also a victim, can avail right granted under Section 372 of Cr.P.C.