Victim is not a necessary party to a criminal appeal from conviction for offences against women or child under POCSO or other Statutes: Calcutta High Court

The victim is not required to be a party to a Criminal Appeal from a conviction for offences against a woman or a child, punishable under the provisions of the IPC or POCSO Acts, or any other penal provision that applies to offences affecting the human body against any women/child all terms are understood in the context of the respective legislation that deals with such omissions. This auspicious judgment was passed by The High Court of Calcutta in the case of Ganesh Das v. State of West Bengal [CRA 228 OF 2020] by Honourable Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan & Justice Aniruddha Roy.

The order has come in a criminal appeal filed by one Ganesh Das, who was convicted for offences punishable under Section 376(3) of IPC and Section 6 of the POCSO Act by the Trial Court and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 20 years. The appeal was opposed by the State, noting that the same is defective as the victim has not been made a party.

Learned amicus curie referred to the provisions of Section 23, 24(5) and 33(7) of the POCSO Act to point out that there is an overwhelming legislative thrust to ensure the protection of the victims. While citing the apex court judgment Vishaka Vs. State of Rajasthan, counsel states that the contents of international conventions and norms are significant for the interpretation of constitutional guarantees in absence of domestic law occupying the field and that Article 51 of the Constitution has to be read along with Article 253 of the Constitution and that in the absence of contrary legislation, municipal courts in India would respect the Rules of International Law.

The bench ordered “(A) the victim is not a necessary party to a Criminal Appeal from conviction for offences against woman or child, punishable under provisions of the I.P.C. or POCSO Act or any other penal provision which will apply in relation to offences affecting human body against any “woman” and/or “child”, both those expressions being understood in the context of the respective legislation which deals with such offences. (B) No such appeal would be defective in the absence of impleadment of the victim. (C) The procedure to be adopted in all such appeals would be to deal with those appeals without insisting on the impleadment of the victim. In cases where, over and above the assistance of the Public Prosecutor representing the State, the appellate court deems it necessary to provide further assistance to secure the interest of the victim through legal aid, the HCLSC or the DLSA concerned may be required to provide assistance through an empanelled or other advocates as may be decided by the HCLSC or the DLSA concerned.”

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