Mumbai: The crime victims (or the next of kin) can approach the High Court to challenge acquittals or seek enhancement of punishment handed to the accused by lower courts directly, without the court`s sanction, the Bombay High Court on Friday held.
"The victim is not required to obtain leave of the court to file any appeal under the proviso 372 of the Criminal Procedure Code," Justice Roshan Dalvi today said.
The legal issue had been referred to Justice Dalvi after there was a a split verdict by the division bench of Justices V M Kanade and A M Thipsay. Justice Kanade had ruled that High Court`s permission was not necessary, while Justice Thipsay had differed.
The issue arose during the hearing of three different appeals filed by victims or complainants, challenging acquittals by the sessions courts.
Justice Dalvi, in her ruling, said: "Hear those who cannot shout; Listen to those who cannot speak."
The judge also noted that victims are a neglected lot and by giving them the right to appeal directly, error committed at the trial stage can be rectified. The 32-page judgement cites the systems in the United States and Canada, where the victims have the right to be heard at all stages of the criminal prosecution.
"Although India has started recognising, accepting and appreciating the rights of a victim, it is still in nascent stage," Justice Dalvi observed.