Thursday, July 14, 2022

Appeal against conviction cannot be dismissed on ground that convict is absconding: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that an appeal filed under Section 374 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) by the accused against his conviction cannot be dismissed on the ground that he is absconding.

A division bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and MM Sundresh heard an appeal assailing a decision of the Patna High Court which had dismissed the appeal of the accused on the ground that the appellant was absconding.

The Court had dismissed the appeal without adverting to the merits of the plea.

While dismissing the appeal, the High Court believed that though the remedy of appeal is a valuable right, the appellant forfeited the exact moment he escaped from custody and flagrantly abused the process of law amounts to defiance of the criminal administration of justice.

The apex court applied this ratio to reverse the findings of the High Court.

"The anguish expressed by the Division Bench about the brazen action of the appellant of absconding and defeating the administration of justice can be well understood. However, that is no ground to dismiss an appeal against conviction, which was already admitted for final hearing, for non-prosecution without adverting to merits. Therefore, the impugned judgment will have to be set aside and the appeal will have to be remanded to the High Court for consideration on merits."

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