Can Complainant file appeal under Section 372 Cr.P.C. seeking enhancement of Sentence? [READ JUDGMENT OF SC]

On 29 August 2020 in the Supreme Court a Bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice R. Shubhash Reddy delivered Judgment in the case of Parvinder Kansal vs State of Delhi and Another (Criminal Appeal No. 555 of 2020), answering the question as to Whether Complainant can file appeal under Section 372 Cr.P.C. seeking enhancement of Sentence?

Background:

The appellant was the complainant in FIR No.742 of 2007 registered on 15.10.2007 for the offence under Section 364A read with Section 34, IPC and the second respondent was the accused. After investigation of the crime, chargesheet dated 11.01.2008 was filed against the second respondent-accused under Sections 364A/302/201, IPC. By order dated the 17th August 2019 of Sessions Court Respondent No.3 was sentenced for offence under Sections 302, 364A and 201, with imprisonment for life and a total fine of Rs. 2.5 Lakhs. The complainant filed an Appeal under Section 372 Cr.P.C. before the Delhi High Court seeking enhancement of punishment to Death Penalty. The Delhi High Court vide is Judgment and Order dated 27.11.2019 dismissed the appeal as not maintainable.

Relevant provision:

“372. No appeal to lie unless otherwise provided. – No appeal shall lie from any judgment or order of a Criminal Court except as provided for by this Code or by any other law for the time being in force:

Provided 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.”

The Court Held:

A reading of the proviso makes it clear that while the victim is given opportunity to prefer appeal in the event of acquittal, conviction of lesser offence and imposing inadequate compensation, but at the same time there is no provision for appeal by the victim for questioning the order of sentence as inadequate, whereas Section 377, Cr.PC gives the power to the State Government to prefer appeal for enhancement of sentence.  

It is fairly well settled that the remedy of appeal is creature of the Statute. Unless the same is provided either under Code of Criminal Procedure or by any other law for the time being in force no appeal, seeking enhancement of sentence at the instance of the victim, is maintainable.

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