Compensation awarded u/s 357(3) of Cr.P.C by the Trial Court cannot be released during the pendency of Appeal

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Dalbir Singh v. State of NCT of Delhi & Anr. etc. [Crl.A.Nos. @ SLP(Crl.) D.No.13225 of 2020] held that the compensation awarded by a Trial Court under Section 357(3) of Cr.P.C. cannot be released while appeals against such orders are pending before the High Court as it may lead to multiplicity of proceedings.

Background –

The respondents were police officers and had detained the son of the appellant in connection with a theft case. The son was allegedly tortured in the lock-up and he succumbed to the injuries he had sustained. The Sessions Court, besides convicting the accused and awarding sentence to them accordingly, also exercised its powers under Section 357(3) of the Cr.P.C. to award compensation to the appellant. An appeal was preferred by the Respondents before the high court. Simultaneously the Appellant also filed an appeal before the High Court for the release of the compensation amount (which was already deposited by all the respondents-accused but one) in his favor, but it was rejected by the High Court.

Held/Observation –

The hon’ble Court observed that “In view of the pendency of criminal appeals before the High Court, wherein the respondents-accused have challenged their conviction and sentence imposed, we do not wish to record any finding on merits of the matter. But suffice it to say, that the compensation awarded in the order dated 20.03.2019 is in exercise of power under Section 357(3) Cr.P.C. 1973 and as the order dated 20.03.2019 is under challenge in criminal appeals pending before the High Court, we are of the considered view that it is not desirable to release such compensation in favour of the appellant, at this stage.”

It was further expounded by the court that “It is true that, the incident has happened in the year 2006 and the appellant herein who is the father of the victim is relentlessly pursuing the matter from last more than a decade. But at the same time it is to be kept in mind that, the conviction recorded and sentence imposed by the Trial Court is the subject matter of the appeals, pending before the High Court. If we permit the release of such compensation to the appellant at this stage, it may lead to multiplicity of proceedings. Instead of ordering release of compensation to the appellant at this stage, we deem it appropriate to request the High Court for expeditious disposal of Criminal Appeal Nos. 537 of 2019, 624 of 2019, 622 of 2019, 488 of 2019 and 499 of 2019.” 

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India dismissed the appeal and refused to to interfere with the impugned order passed by the High Court and  requested the High Court to dispose of Criminal Appeals as expeditiously as possible, preferably within a period of six months, from the date of the order.

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