APPEAL AGAINST ACQUITTAL
The term acquittal means a judgment or verdict that a person is not guilty of the crime with which he has been charged. As such, if a person is charged with the commission of an offense or crime and subsequently after completion of trial by a competent court, said person is declared to be not guilty against that offense by the said court then it is said the accused person is acquitted from charge. Now the question arises what happens if the original complainant or informant or victim is not satisfied with the judgment of acquittal of the accused person? Can he (complainant or informant or victim) exercise any right to appeal against such judgment of acquittal?
A study says almost 90% of cases are closed after judgment by the trial court, since a considerable time (say 4/5 years or even more time) already gone away for completion of trial by the Trial Court. All these times are taken in different stages of the case like investigation, filing of the charge sheet, the appearance of accused in the court for trial, evidence of witnesses, then argument by pleader, and finally pronouncement of judgment by the court. During this long process of trial of a case, almost all the parties go tired by moving to the courts. As a result, while the judgment of acquittal is passed, the circumstances and nature of grievance of the original complainant or informant or the victim may come to change. It is also important to note that in a police case or G.R. Case the Government takes over the case and runs the same on behalf of the informant. Under such a situation the informant cannot directly conduct the case; he is to assist the public prosecutor during the trial. Therefore, it becomes difficult for a private person to persistently follow every stage of a case. Sometimes it is also seen that even the informant does not know about the disposal of the case which he filed long back. The question of appeal arises only when the informant/complainant is completely aware about the outcome of the case and his grievance is not yet redressed till the final judgment of the same.
It is also necessary to know that appeal against any judgment cannot be claimed as a matter of right. It can be preferred only when the matter is made appealable. It implies that if a subject matter is not made appealable by the constitutional provision or any other statutory provisions of law, no appeal can be filed before any superior court even if the aggrieved persons are not served with justice. As per section 372 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short Cr.P.C.), no appeal shall lie from any judgment or order of a criminal court except as provided for by the Cr.P.C. or by any other law for the time being in force. However, a proviso is added by the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2008 to the effect 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.
Now let us see deep insight to the original issue of this article. The provision for appeal in case of acquittal is elaborately described under section 378 of Cr.P.C. Under the said section of law an appeal against any order of acquittal can be filed in the court of sessions or to the High Court under direction of District Magistrate or the State Government. However the said provision is made subject to the condition that each appeal against acquittal can be filed with the leave of the High Court. If no leave is granted or the same is refused, then such appeal cannot be preferred under the above section of law. further it is also provide that if the appellant in case of acquittal is a Public Servant then the appeal must be preferred within 6 (six) months and if the same is preferred by any private person then it must be filed within 60 (sixty) days only from the date of the judgment of acquittal. Beyond this prescribed period of limitation, no appeal can be preferred. However, if there are reasonable grounds for delay in filing such appeal beyond the limitation period, then a petition for condonation of delay may be moved under Section 5 of the Limitation Act. If the High Court being satisfied condones the delay for filing such appeal against acquittal, only then the memo of appeal may be entertained; otherwise, no appeal can be moved beyond the prescribed period of limitation.
Therefore, if anyone is predetermined to file any appeal against acquittal (if the occasion arises), he must do so as stated above as prescribed by law.