Victim’s Right to File an Appeal in a Criminal Case

Victim can file an appeal u/s 372 CrPC

A victim can file an appeal in a criminal offence against any judgment or order passed by the court only under three circumstances, such as acquitting the accused or convicting for a lesser offence or imposing inadequate compensation, under Section 372 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1972 (CrPC).

Special leave to appeal not needed

The victim has a statutory right of appeal and does not pray for grant of special leave to appeal, under Section 372 CrPC.

No appeal for inadequacy of sentence by victim

However, no appeal can be maintained by the victim under Section 372 CrPC on the ground of inadequacy of sentence, as per judgements in National Commission For Women v State of Delhi, [(2010) 12 SCC 599], Parvinder Kansal v State (NCT of Delhi), [(2020) 19 SCC 496] and Shireen v State Of Uttar Pradesh & Ors [APPLICATION U/S 378 No. – 142 of 2017] delivered on 12/7/2022.

Victim can file revision petition u/s 401 CrPC

The victim can however file a revision petition under section 401 of the CrPC in regard to inadequate sentence, as per the judgement of the Bombay High Court in Anand Singh Versus The State of Maharashtra.

Who is a victim?

A victim is a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by reason of the act or omission for which the accused person has been charged, as per Section 2(wa) of the CrPC.

The expression “victim” includes his or her guardian or legal heir.

A complainant can file an appeal u/s 378 CrPC

A complainant is a person who prefers a complaint as defined under Section 2(d) of CrPC to the magistrate, upon which the court can subsequently take cognizance of the offence under Section 190(1)(a), CrPC.

The complainant has the right to file an appeal against an order of acquittal passed by a criminal court to the High Court, with a special leave u/s 378(4) of the CrPC.

A victim, being a complainant also, does not cease to be a victim

A Division Bench of the Madras High Court in S.Ganapathy v N.Senthilvel held that a victim does not cease to be a victim merely because he also happens to be a complainant. The High Court in this case holds that all the victims who are also complainants can file the appeal under Section 372 of the CrPC. A complainant will have to file an appeal under section 384(4), CrPC alone.

In Mallikarjun Kodagali v State of Karnataka [(2019) 2 SCC 752] a three judge bench of the Supreme Court held that a victim can file an appeal in the High Court against the acquittal, without seeking leave to appeal.

Acquittal in cheque case cannot appealed u/s 372 as a victim

A Division Bench of Kerala High Court in Omana Jose v State of Kerala [ [2014(2) KLT 504] has held that the complainant cannot challenge the order of acquittal passed by a Magistrate for an offence under Section 138 of the N I Act before Sessions Court under proviso to Section 372 CrPC.

In case of acquittal, the right remedy for a cheque case under Negotiable Instrument Act is to file an appeal to the High Court with Special Leave under Section 378 (4) of the CrPC.

Limitation for filing appeal u/s 372 CrPC

In M/s. Tata Steel Ltd v M/s. Atma Tube Products Ltd. &Ors Punjab High Court held that in view of proviso to Section 372 CrPC an appeal preferred by a ‘victim’ against the order of acquittal passed by a Magistrate in respect of a cognizable offence shall lie to the Court of Session.

The State’s appeal under Section 378(1)(a) of the CrPC against that order shall also be entertained and/or transferred to the same Sessions Court.