Question: Kindly enlighten me as to when the period of limitation starts for challenging the order of conviction in appeal. Whether the limitation starts from the date of the conviction or from the date of order of sentence? In one of my case, order of conviction was pronounced and certified copy of conviction order was provided on the same date and case was adjourned for order on sentence after few days. On the subsequent date order of sentence was pronounced and certified copy was also provided on the same day. The appeal was filed within 30 days of the order of sentence but later than 30 days from the date of order of conviction. Whether the appeal will be time barred?
Answer: Since the appeal is not only against the order of conviction but also against the order of sentence, therefore, the limitation period should commence from the date of order of sentence if the sentencing is done on a different date.
Even otherwise in the case of a conviction in a trial, the trial is not completed merely by an order of conviction unless the order of sentence is also passed. A judgment has to be pronounced on the completion of the trial in accordance with Section 353 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Section 354 of Cr.P.C. lays down what are the “language and contents of judgment”. This section makes it clear that a judgment of a trial court consists not only of the conviction but also the punishment to which he is sentenced. The relevant parts of Section 354 of Cr.P.C. are reproduced below:
“354. Language and contents of judgment.—(1) Except as otherwise expressly provided by this Code, every judgment referred to in Section 353,—
(c) shall specify the offence (if any) of which, and the section of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or other law under which, the accused is convicted and the punishment to which he is sentenced;
(3) When the conviction is for an offence punishable with death or, in the alternative, with imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term of years, the judgment shall state the reasons for the sentence awarded, and, in the case of sentence of death, the special reasons for such sentence.”
Thus, sentence is a part of the judgment in a trial. What is challenged in appeal (against conviction) is the “judgment”, which means that both conviction and sentence are being challenged. Thus, the limitation period should begin from the date of order of sentence if the sentencing is done on a different date subsequent to the conviction.
Moreover, if at all there is any doubt, it is easily resolved if one looks at the language used in the Limitation Act, 1963. In Article 115 in the Schedule to the Limitation Act, limitation period for Appeals is prescribed. This Article is reproduced below:
|SL. NO.||DESCRIPTION OF SUIT||PERIOD OF LIMITATION||TIME FROM WHICH PEROID BEGINS TO RUN|
|115.||Under Code of Criminal Procedure,1898|
|(a) From a sentence of death passed by a court of section or by a High Court in the exercise of its original Criminal Jurisdiction.||Thirty days||The date of the sentence|
|(b) From any other sentence or any order not being an order of acquittal –|
|(i) to the High Court||Sixty days||The date of the sentence or order.|
|(ii) to any other Court||Thirty days||The date of the sentence or order.|
From the above, it is seen that under Article 115(b), the period of limitation begins to run from the date of sentence or order. Further, it is also a well-established principle of law that if two events are prescribed for beginning of the limitation period, it would begin to run from the subsequent event; otherwise, the whole purpose of prescribing a limitation period would be lost.
Therefore, the limitation period would begin only from the date of sentence if the order of sentence is pronounced on a different date. In the facts of your case, your appeal is not time-barred because you have filed it within 30 days from the date of the order of sentence.