Appeal Against Acquittal Delay Can Be Condoned under Limitation Act: Supreme Court

Appeal Against Acquittal Delay Can Be Condoned under Limitation Act: Supreme Court

In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court declared that the delay in filing an appeal against acquittal can indeed be condoned under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963.

A bench comprising Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and P.B. Varale, concurring with the High Court’s decision, emphasized the permissibility of condoning delays in such appeals under the Limitation Act, 1963.

Supreme Court Upholds Condoning of Delay in Appeal Against Acquittal

Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, authoring the judgment, asserted, “The benefit of Section 5 read with Sections 2 and 3 of the Limitation Act, 1963 can therefore be availed in an appeal against acquittal. There is no force in the contentions raised by the appellants as regards the non-application of Section 5 of the Limitation Act in the present case and the appeal is therefore dismissed.”

The court clarified that despite the limitation period specified under Section 378 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.), there exists no exclusionary provision within it to preclude the application of the Limitation Act.


The case stemmed from the acquittal of the appellant-accused by the Trial Court for an offense under the Customs Act of 1962. Subsequently, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) lodged an appeal under Section 378 of Cr.P.C. before the High Court, accompanied by a plea for condonation of the 72-day delay in filing the appeal.

Although the High Court initially allowed the delay condonation application, the appellant-accused’s subsequent attempt to recall the order was dismissed, leading them to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Arguments Made by the Parties

The appellant-accused contended that the High Court erred in condoning the delay, arguing that Section 378 of Cr.P.C. provides a self-contained framework for appeals against acquittals, thereby rendering the Limitation Act inapplicable.

Conversely, the Respondent-DRI maintained that the Limitation Act’s provisions, including Section 5, are indeed applicable to appeals against acquittals.

Supreme Court’s Observations

After careful consideration, the Supreme Court rejected the appellant’s arguments, emphasizing that precedents cited were based on outdated statutes. Notably, the Court referenced its own decision in Mangu Ram v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi, which underscored the applicability of Section 5 of the Limitation Act to such cases.

The Court elucidated that while the older statutes excluded the application of Section 5. Of course, The current framework allows its invocation, provided sufficient cause is demonstrated.

Appeal Against Acquittal Delay Condoned under Limitation Act: Conclusion

In conclusion, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, affirming the condonation of delay in filing the appeal against acquittal. Additionally, the stay on the High Court’s order was lifted. Finally, The court directed the proceedings to continue in light of its observations.

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For Appellant(s)
1. Mr. Vijay Agarwal, Adv.
2. Mr. Chetan Manchanda, Adv.
3. Mr. Md. Shahid Anwar, AOR

For Respondent(s)
Mr. Vikramjit Banerjee, A.S.G.
Mr. Mukesh Kumar Maroria, AOR
Mrs. Priyanka Das, Adv.
Mr. Nachiketa Joshi, Adv.
Mrs. Merusagar Samantaray, Adv.
Mr. Ishaan Sharma, Adv.

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