Friday, 19 July 2019

Basic concept of issue estoppel in criminal law

The principle of issue-estoppel is entirely a creature of judicial decisions, and has not been embodied in the Code of Criminal Procedure. The rule of issue-estoppel in a criminal trial is that where an issue of fact has been decided by a competent Court on a former occasion and a finding reached in favour of an accused, such a finding constitutes an estoppel or res judicata against the prosecution, not as a bar to the trial and conviction of the accused for a different or distinct offence, but as barring the reception of evidence to disturb the finding of fact in a subsequent or different trial of the accused.
The rule of issue-estoppel relates only to the admissibility of evidence which is designed to upset a finding of fact recorded by a competent Court at a previous trial. The rule as to issue-estoppel applies where same issue was distinctly raised and inevitably decided in earlier proceedings between the same parties.

The essentials of the rule of issue-estoppel are:
(i) The parties in the two proceedings must be the same;

(ii) The issue that was decided earlier must be identical with that which is sought to be re-agitated.
The issue-estoppel applies only when both the earlier and the present proceedings are criminal prosecutions.
Where an issue has been decided by a competent Court on a former occasion, such a finding constitutes an estoppel or res judicata against the parties to that proceeding. It will operate as a bar to reception of evidence to disturb that finding in a subsequent trial or proceedings, the principle is known as rule of estoppel.
Where an issue of fact has been decided by a competent Court on a former occasion in favour of the accused, such finding operates as estoppel or res judicata against the prosecution.
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