If govt appeal is rejected, victim`s plea can`t be heard: HC

A division bench of Justices AS Oka and SS Jadhav was hearing an appeal filed by one Dundawwa Bagewadi.

Mumbai: An appeal filed by a victim or his family against lower`s court acquittal cannot be heard by the High Court if a similar appeal filed by the state in the case has already been rejected, the Bombay High Court has held.

A division bench of Justices AS Oka and SS Jadhav was hearing an appeal filed by one Dundawwa Bagewadi, one of the victims in a murder and attempt to murder case, challenging the lower court`s order of acquittal of the accused in the case.

However, during the hearing of the appeal, the court was informed that a similar appeal filed by the state government, challenging the acquittal before another bench of the high court was rejected due to want of evidence.

A Sessions Court had acquitted the accused in the case in April 2010, following which the state government approached the high court challenging the verdict.

In September 2010, the High Court had rejected the plea after observing that there was not enough material to prove the prosecution case.

Advocate Murtuza Najmi, appearing for Bagewadi, argued that under section 372 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) a victim or victim`s family has the right to appeal against acquittal of the accused.

"In the present case, another bench of this court by a reasoned judgment has dismissed the government`s plea to challenge by specifically holding that the finding of acquittal by the trial court is sustainable in law," the bench observed.

"The view taken by the earlier bench is binding on us. We cannot take a contrary view on the ground that some other evidence was available. We cannot ignore the well-settled law that the presumption of innocence of the accused is further strengthened by the order of acquittal," Justice Oka observed.

The bench said that in view of this, the appeal filed by the victim cannot be entertained and heard separately.