Can relative of deceased in an offence file SLP in Supreme Court against order in favour of accused?

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Question: In a case of culpable homicide under Section 304 IPC, trial is going on. As an interim order, the high court has granted a favourable interim order to the accused. I am a relative of the deceased who was killed in the above offence. Can I file SLP in the Supreme Court against such order of the high court?

Answer: Recently, in the case of Ratanlal v. Prahlad Jat, (2017) 9 SCC 340 : AIR 2017 SC 5006, the Supreme Court held that criminal trial is conducted largely by following the procedure laid down in Cr.P.C. Locus standi of the complaint is a concept foreign to criminal jurisprudence. Anyone can set the criminal law in motion except where the statute enacting or creating an offence indicates to the contrary. This general principle is founded on a policy that an offence, that is an act or omission made punishable by any law for the time being in force, is not merely an offence committed in relation to the person who suffers harm but is also an offence against the society. Therefore, in respect of such offences which are treated against the society, it becomes the duty of the State to punish the offender.

In the above case, the high court had permitted recall of two witnesses for their re-examination during the trial, even though they had earlier been examined and cross-examined in detail and there was an unexplained delay of about 14 months in making the application for their recall for re-examination. Against this order of the high court, a relative of the deceased (a paternal brother of the deceased) had filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution. On the opposite party challenging his locus standi to file the SLP, the Supreme Court held that:

“…Article 136 does not confer a right to appeal on any party but it confers a discretionary power on the Supreme Court to interfere in suitable cases. The exercise of the power of the court is not circumscribed by any limitation as to who may invoke it. It does not confer a right to appeal, it confers only a right to apply for special leave to appeal. Therefore, there was no bar for the appellant to apply for special leave to appeal as he is an aggrieved person.”

Thus, it was held by the Supreme Court that such relative of the deceased could file the SLP before the Supreme Court against the order of the high court.

In a similar way, you can also file SLP before the Supreme Court against the interim order of the high court, that you have said is in favour of the accused person. Of course, the decision in the SLP will be on merits, but you are not precluded from filing such SLP. However, it is advisable that you may also file a formal application along with the SLP seeking permission to file the SLP.

About Dr. Ashok Dhamija

Dr. Ashok DhamijaDr. Ashok Dhamija is a New Delhi based Supreme Court Advocate, holds Ph.D. in Constitutional Law, is author of 3 law books, and is an ex-IPS officer. He is the founder of this law portal. Read more by clicking here. List of his articles. List of his Forum Replies. List of his Quora Answers.

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