Accused has no inherent right to appeal against conviction: HC

In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court has held that an accused does not have an inherent right of appeal against his conviction and the same has to be conferred by a statute.

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

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

The petition, filed by three convicts, sought a direction from the High Court to declare 376 (b) and (c) of CrPc as unconstitutional and ultravires the Constitution as it takes away the right to appeal.

It also prayed for quashing an order of a sessions court which ruled that such an appeal was not maintainable in view of clause 376 (b).

Two petitioners were asked to suffer imprisonment for a day until the rising of the court in a cheque bouncing case, while all the three were ordered to pay compensation of Rs 15 lakh to the complainant within three months.

They filed an appeal in a sessions court which rejected it in view of clause (b) of 376. Against this, they filed a petition in the High Court.

The judges observed that there is no inherent right of appeal. If statute creates a right of appeal against an order of conviction, any Act which prevents an accused from preferring an Appeal may be in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.

But a legislation cannot be struck down on the ground that there is a violation of Article 21 as a result of failure to provide for an Appeal against a conviction.

Thus, there is no merit in the prayer that clauses (b) and (c) of 376 of CrPC are illegal, the judges said while upholding their validity and legality.

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