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Flexibility in Legal Timelines: Condonation of Delay for Acquittal Appeals


The Hon’ble Supreme Court (‘SC’) in its recent judgment titled Mohd Abaad Ali v. Directorate of Revenue Prosecution Intelligence[i], has held that delays in filing appeals against acquittal under s. 378 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘CrPC’) can be condoned under the Limitation Act, 1963 (‘Limitation Act’). This judgement analysed the applicability of s. 5 of the Limitation Act to special laws and compared it with the Limitation Act, 1908 (‘Old Act’).

Brief Facts

  • The Appellant, along with three others, was acquitted by the Trial Court under s. 135(1)(b) of the Customs Act, 1962, in 2012.

  • Subsequently, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (‘DRI’) filed an appeal and a delay condonation application in the Delhi High Court (‘DHC’) in 2013, which was allowed by the DHC.

  • The Appellant moved an application under s. 482 of the CrPC for recalling the said order of the DHC contending that s. 5 of the Limitation Act would not apply as s. 378(5) of the CrPC does not provide for condonation of delay.

  • DHC subsequently dismissed the application, and the appellant approached the SC under special leave.


  • ·The SC dismissed the application, holding that the delay in filing an appeal under s. 378 of CrPC could be condoned by application of s. 5 of the Limitation Act.

  • The SC analysed its judgment in Kaushalya Rani v. Gopal Singh[ii], relied upon by the appellant and observed that it dealt with the Old Act, and therefore can have no application in cases governed by the Limitation Act (Observed in Mangu Ram v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi[iii] )

  • The SC further observed that s. 29(2) of the Limitation Act is worded differently than s. 29(2) of the Old Act, and now s. 5 of the Limitation Act applies to special laws unless it is expressly excluded by such special law.

  • The SC observed that since s. 378 of CrPC does not have any exclusionary provision, the benefit of s. 5 r.w. s.2 & s.3 of the Limitation Act can be availed.


The SC's judgment offers a significant precedent, allowing relaxation for not just the DRI but potentially all prosecutorial authorities in filing statutory appeals beyond the period prescribed under the CrPC. This ruling underlines that a limited delay does not preclude such authorities from appealing against an acquittal, given that the conditions for condonation of delay under the Limitation Act are met. This development broadens the judicial approach to the interpretation of the Limitation Act in conjunction with the CrPC, providing a more forgiving framework for appeals, particularly in cases involving significant public or governmental interests.

End Notes

[i] 2024 SCC OnLine SC 162

[ii] (1964) 4 SCR 982

[iii] (1976) 1 SCC 392

Authored by Aditya Gupta, Advocate at Metalegal Advocates. The views expressed are personal and do not constitute legal opinion.


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