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Report No. 47

9.28. Period of limitation for appeals against acquittals.-

While we are dealing with the question of procedural matters, we wish to refer to one point of limitation governing appeals against acquittals. Under the Criminal Procedure Code, an appeal against acquittal can be filed-

(1) by the Public Prosecutor at the instance of the State Government1;

(2) by the Public Prosecutor at the instance of the Central Government, if the offence has been investigated by the Delhi Special Police Establishment2;

(3) by the complainant with special leave of the High Court3.

[The provisions on the subject, contained in section 417, Criminal Procedure Code, have been incorporated in the Criminal Procedure Code Bil1,4 without any modifications material for the present purpose.]

1. Section 417(1), Criminal Procedure Code.

2. Section 417(2), Criminal Procedure Code.

3. Section 417(3), Criminal Procedure Code.

4. Clause 388, Criminal Procedure Code Bill, 1970.

9.29. While appeal in the first two cases is as of right, appeal in the third case is only by special leave. An application for the grant of such special leave cannot be entertained by the High Court after the expiry of sixty days from the date of the order of acquittal.1

1. Section 417(4), Criminal Procedure Code.

9.30. Now, this period of limitation (sixty days), while adequate for private complaints, is, in practice, likely to be inadequate for complaints made by public servants in their official capacity. Before a decision to make an application for leave can be taken, a number of formalities has to be undergone, such as, obtaining the administrative sanction of a higher authority, consultation with other officers, re-examination of the papers, and the like. While it is not our intention that any delay in these steps should be encouraged, we must recognise that realities of official routine justify some relaxation of the ordinary periods. The problem does not arise where the State Government directs an appeal-as in case (1) above1-or where the case was investigated by the Delhi Special Police Establishment and the Central Government directs an appeal-as in case (2) above.2

But there are cases arising out of complaints filed by public officers, not investigated by the Delhi Special Police Establishment, being cases in which the State Government is not interested, where the appeal against acquittal can be filed, if at all, under case (3) above. It is in these cases that the present position causes practical difficulty. We think that it would be better if the ordinary period (sixty days) is doubled for such cases. Though we are concerned with offences under specified Central enactments, we think that the amendment in this respect could usefully be made to cover all cases in which the complaint has been made "by a public servant acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duties3."

1. Para. 9.28, supra.

2. Para. 9.28, supra.

3. Cf the words of section 200, proviso (aa), Criminal Procedure Code.

9.31. Accordingly, we recommend that clause 388(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code Bill should be revised, so as to read as follows1:-

"(4) No application under sub-section (3) for the grant of special leave to appeal from an order of acquittal shall be entertained by the High Court after the expiry of sixty days from the date of that order of acquittal, or, if the order of acquittal is passed in any case instituted upon a complaint made by a public servant acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duties, then after the expiry of one hundred and twenty days from the date of that order of acquittal."

1. To be carried out in the Criminal Procedure Code.

9.32. It is needless to add that the period of limitation for the appeal remains unaffected by the above recommendation. The relevant provision1 is as follows:-

Description of appeal

Period of limitation

Time from which period begins to run

114.Appeal from an order of acquittal
(a) under sub-section (1) or of sub-section (2) of section Ninety days The date of the order appealed from.
417 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898;
(b) under sub-section (3) of section 417 of that code. Thirty days. The date of the grant of Special leave.

Under the Limitation Act2, the Court has power to condone the delay. The provision says-

"5. Extension of prescribed period in certain cases.-Any appeal or any application, other than an application under any of the provisions of Order XXI of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, may be admitted after the prescribed period if the appellant or the applicant satisfies the court that he had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal or making the application with such period.

Explanation-The fact that the appellant or the applicant was misled by any order, practice or judgment of the High Court in ascertaining or computing the prescribed period may be sufficient cause within the meaning of this section."

1. Limitation Act, 1963, Article 114.

2. Section 5, Limitation Act, 1963.

9.33. The class of offences we are dealing with in this Report, are grave in themselves, and the Offenders involved are ordinarily influential persons who could, if enlarged on bail, interfere with the investigation or could escape from the law. Therefore, suggestions have been made for making these offences non-bailable, which does not mean refusal of bail in all cases but grant of bail only at the discretion of the court.

9.34. Having due regard, to the likelihood of the grant of bail defeating or delaying investigation or enabling the accused to obliterate evidence or escape from the country, the proposal to make these offences non-bailable appeared to us to be reasonable. As we are recommending, in this Report, an increase in the maximum punishment for the serious offences, they will become non-bailable, and that will be a welcome change. We are also recommending an amendment in the Essential Commodities Act1 to remove the present provision to the effect that the offences under that Act shall be bailable.

1. See para. 15.52, infra.

9.35. We would also like to point out that the offenders involved in socio┬Čeconomic crime have a mobility which beats the law unless the machinery of investigation and the courts are vigilant. It is, therefore, desirable that the courts, when granting bail to this class of offenders, should consider the imposition of a condition that the accused shall not leave the country and that his passport shall be impounded.1 We are separately recommending an amendment the effect of which will be that a power will be vested in the passport authorities at the request of higher officer to withhold the issuance of or impound the existing passport of the accused.2 Provisions somewhat on these lines now exist in sections 6, 10 and 12 of the Passports Act, but those sections are restricted in their scope, and would not cover the precise situations to which we have adverted.

1. A power to impose conditions while granting bail has been recommended in the Law Commission's Report on sections 497-498, Criminal Procedure Code and also in its 41st Report on the Criminal Procedure Code.

2. See para. 15.35, infra.

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