Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Prashant Kumar Mishra and Gautam Chourdiya, JJ.,  dismissed an application for “condonation of delay in filing acquittal appeal” on finding no satisfactory explanation for a delay of almost thirteen and a half years.

The present application was filed for condonation of delay in filing the acquittal appeal. The appeal was against the acquittal of respondents 2 to 14 from the charge under Sections 302, 147, 148/149, 452, 325, 323 and 427 of Penal Code, 1860 rendered by Additional Sessions Judge vide its judgment is barred by a delay of 5010 days – more than thirteen and a half years.

Appellant in the present matter is the wife of the deceased who was done to death by 16 accused persons including respondents 2 to 14. Trial Court acquitted the present 13 respondents and convicted only 3 of them.

Counsel for the appellant, Ashok Varma submitted that no period of limitations is prescribed for filing appeal under Section 372 of CrPC, therefore, family members of the victim/deceased are entitled to file an appeal at any point of time. Further added that, the appellant had valid and sufficient reasons for not preferring the appeal within a reasonable time as after the date of the incident, the accused persons were threatening the appellant and other members of the family to leave the village otherwise they will meet the same fate like deceased.

Counsel for the appellant to support his contention relied on the case of Mithilesh Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, ACQA No. 96 of 2012 & Dineshbhai Makwana v. State of Gujarat, 2013 Cri.L.J. 4225.

Learned Panel Lawyer, Avinash Choubey representing the State, Counsel Anjinesh Shukla, representing the respondents 2 to 14 vehemently opposed the prayer fro condonation of delay. They contended that the appellant has suddenly decided to file an appeal for no reason, therefore, the present is a case where the appeal deserves to dismissed either as barred by limitation or on the ground of delay and laches.

Held

The High Court, in view of the stated facts and submissions, stated that three accused who have been found to be the real perpetrators were convicted by the trial court, therefore, there does not appeal to be any real or tangible threat to the appellant or her family members. Moreover, no complaint or report was annexed with the application in support of the submission that there was threat extended to the appellant or her family members.

Taking in reference to the case relied upon the counsel for the appellant, i.e. Mithilesh Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, ACQA No. 96 of 2012, it was stated that

“Even if no period of limitation is prescribed under Section 372 CrPC an appeal against acquittal has to be preferred with reasonable time from the date of knowledge.”

Court noted that, counsel for appellant fairly submitted that the appellant was aware of the judgment soon after its delivery as respondents 2 to 14 started threatening the appellant soon after the judgment.

Thus, the Court in view of the above submitted that the appeal should have been filed within 90 days after the impugned judgment. The present is a case where the delay is not of a few months, but the delay is of almost more than 13 and a half years. Court added to their decision that, there is no satisfactory explanation for causing such enormous delay in filing the acquittal appeal.

Hence, the instant acquittal appeal on grounds of unexplained delay and laches is dismissed.[Anand Mati Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 92, decided on 03-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Anil Kumar Choudhary, J. heard an interlocutory application filed under Section 378(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 warranting a grant of special leave to present an acquittal appeal.

Applicants herein were accused of entering into the complainant’s house to threaten her to withdraw the case instituted by her, during which they had abused her in a filthy language, and on her refusal to do so, they assaulted her and broke the lock of her shop taking away all the articles from it. The complainant had examined four witnesses in support of its case, whereby CW 1 and CW 2 were held not to be eye-witnesses to the occurrence and the CW 3 and CW 4 were not named in the column for witnesses, however, were introduced by the complainant at a later stage. The complaint had no mention of the presence of CW 4 at the place of occurrence, nor had the witnesses, at the stage of enquiry, stated her presence at the place of occurrence. CW 3, who was also the daughter of the complainant provided that the accused persons had misbehaved with the complainant and asked her to withdraw her case. She specifically stated that Akhilesh Pandey, who had been convicted, pointed a gun at the complainant, got the lock broken, and Rajesh Pandey, one of the private respondent, had called a truck and took away the articles of CW 3 and her mother, the complainant. The Chief Judicial Magistrate held that CW 3 and CW 4 had not stated anything about the two private respondents of this appeal, as required under Section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and Section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Penal Code, 1860 and as CW 1 and CW 2 were not eyewitnesses, he acquitted the two private respondents of this appeal and convicted Akhilesh Pandey.

The counsel for the appellant, while seeking the grant of special leave under Section 378(4) of CrPC submitted that the learned court had not considered the fact that CW 3 had specifically stated for the misbehavior of all the three persons with the complainant-CW 4, and that the subsequent paragraphs of her statement had specifically stated that Akhilesh Pandey had committed the offences. The trial court should have taken into consideration her earlier submission where she provided for the presence of other accused at the place of occurrence.  It was then submitted that her submission regarding the presence of the two private respondents at the place of occurrence, deemed that she had stated about the two private respondents of this appeal to have committed the offence for which their co-accused had been convicted, thereby they could also have been convicted.

The learned Additional Public Prosecutor submitted that the learned CJM had considered the fact that the witnesses had not specifically stated about the involvement of the private respondents of this appeal, hence, rightly acquitted them. It was further submitted that in a criminal case, unless a witness had specifically stated something against the accused in his deposition, the inference could not be drawn from his statement made in earlier paragraph of the deposition to bring forth the charges against the accused facing the trial, thereby requesting a refusal to the grant of special leave for presenting the acquittal appeal

The High Court opined that as the CW 3 had not specifically stated for the private respondents to cause hurt to the complainant or intentionally insult the complainant thereby giving provocation to her to break the public peace, there was no apparent illegality or gross error in the impugned judgment. Therefore the interlocutory application being without any merit was rejected and the acquittal appeal was accordingly dismissed.[Ila Rani Sahai v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 770, decided on 16-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Anil Kumar Choudhary, J. disposed of an interlocutory application filed under Section 378(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for special leave to file the acquittal appeal.

Appellant had filed an acquittal appeal which challenged the acquittal of the accused persons in a complaint case by the impugned judgment. In the complaint, it had been mentioned that thirty days prior to the lodging of the complaint, all of the accused persons had brought the complainant to her paternal house and had repeatedly made demands for dowry. When her father expressed his helplessness, all of the accused had assaulted her and her aging father. However, none of the witnesses except the complainant herself had mentioned this occurrence in their deposition. Moreover, several witnesses had testified that the complainant’s husband had never visited her paternal house after their marriage. One of the complainant witnesses added that the demand for dowry as well as the assault incident had taken place in Delhi which was outside the jurisdiction of the trial court. Due to the many discrepancies in the evidence of the complainant, the trial court did not believe the statements made by the witnesses of the complainant and acquitted the accused persons of the case.

Sunita Kumari, learned counsel for the appellant, submitted that the trial court did not appreciate the evidence of the witnesses of the complaint properly. She added that since the deposition of the witnesses was recorded after ten years of lodging the complaint, some discrepancies would exist in the time and year mentioned and that the trial court relied upon these contradictions when it acquitted the accused persons. She contended that due to the long lapse of time, the witnesses of the complainant missed in testifying about the parts of the incidents mentioned in the complaint. However, the same could not be a circumstance due to which the entire case of the complainant was disbelieved. She maintained that the court had made an error by considering that her reasons for lodging the complaint were that she was neither ready nor willing to go to her matrimonial house and that she had inherited property from her father. The counsel asserted that the appellant should get special leave to present this appeal.

Praveen Kr. Appu, learned counsel on behalf of the respondents, defended the impugned judgment. He submitted that the trial court had correctly appreciated the evidence on record, had kept in view the discrepancies in the deposition of the witnesses and had rightly disbelieved the complainant. Resultantly, the impugned judgment did not require the interference of the Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, particularly when the impugned judgment was of acquittal of accused persons. Consequently, the special leave to present this appeal should not be granted to the appellant.

The Court observed that the trial court had taken into account all the contradictions in the depositions of the witnesses and had made a record of the same.  It also noted the “lack of specific evidence regarding any occurrence having been taken place about the incident mentioned in para-12 of the complaint regarding which there is specific allegation made in the complaint”. It relied on the case of State of U.P. v. Wasif Haider, (2019) 2 SCC 303, where it was held that the appellate court would only interfere where there existed perversity of facts and law. Hence, the court held that this was not a fit case where a special appeal could be granted to the appellant. Therefore, the interlocutory application was rejected on the basis of lack of merit and the acquittal appeal was also dismissed.[Nazma Khatoon v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 771, decided on 04-04-2019]