HC: Right to appeal conviction conditional

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 13.11.12

Mumbai, Nov. 12 (PTI): The right to appeal against a conviction is not an inherent right and has to be conferred by a statute, Bombay High Court has ruled.

“The legislature can confer the said right or can make available the right conditionally. It (legislature) may withdraw the right by amending the statute which confers the right of appeal,” Justices Abhay Oka and Sadhana Jadhav said in a recent judgment.

The ruling came on a petition challenging a provision in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc), which restricts the right to appeal in small cases, those in which the punishment is less than the stipulated period of imprisonment or fine.

The petition, filed by three convicts, had urged the high court to declare Section 376 (b) and (c) of CrPc, the restrictive sections, unconstitutional.

Two of the petitioners were imprisoned for a day in a cheque-bounce case, while all three were ordered to pay a compensation of Rs 15 lakh to the complainant. A sessions court rejected their appeal citing the provision.

The high court also concluded that there is no inherent right to appeal. While any act that prevents an accused from appealing may violate Article 21 of the Constitution — right to equality before law — the provision cannot be struck down on that ground, the bench said and dismissed the plea.

The petitioners had argued that Section 376 imposes “unreasonable, arbitrary and discriminative conditions” on a court’s territorial jurisdiction by making the right to appeal conditional on whether the conviction order was passed by a magistrate in a metropolitan city or non-metro areas.

The petitioners’ lawyer argued against such a distinction and stressed the right should be the same everywhere.