Friday 26 April 2024

Supreme Court Reiterates Principles To Be Adhered By Appellate Court While Reversing Acquittal

 From the above decisions, in our considered view, the following general principles regarding powers of the appellate court while dealing with an appeal against an order of acquittal emerge: {Para 42}

(1) An appellate court has full power to review, reappreciate and reconsider the evidence upon which the order of acquittal is founded.

(2) The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 puts no limitation, restriction or condition on exercise of such power and an appellate court on the evidence before it may reach its own conclusion, both on questions of fact and of law.

(3) Various expressions, such as, "substantial and compelling reasons", "good and sufficient grounds", "very strong circumstances", "distorted conclusions", "glaring mistakes", etc. are not intended to curtail extensive powers of an appellate court in an appeal against acquittal. Such phraseologies are more in the nature of "flourishes of language" to emphasise the reluctance of an appellate court to interfere with acquittal than to curtail the power of the court to review the evidence and to come to its own conclusion.

(4) An appellate court, however, must bear in mind that in case of acquittal, there is double presumption in favour of the Accused. Firstly, the presumption of innocence is available to him under the fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that every person shall be presumed to be innocent unless he is proved guilty by a competent court of law. Secondly, the Accused having secured his acquittal, the presumption of his innocence is further reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the trial court.

(5) If two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence on record, the appellate court should not disturb the finding of acquittal recorded by the trial court.

38. Further, in the case of H.D. Sundara and Ors. v. State of Karnataka MANU/SC/1058/2023 : 2023:INSC:858 : (2023) 9 SCC 581 this Court summarized the principles governing the exercise of appellate jurisdiction while dealing with an appeal against acquittal Under Section 378 of Code of Criminal Procedure as follows:

8.1. The acquittal of the Accused further strengthens the presumption of innocence;

8.2. The appellate court, while hearing an appeal against acquittal, is entitled to reappreciate the oral and documentary evidence;

8.3. The appellate court, while deciding an appeal against acquittal, after reappreciating the evidence, is required to consider whether the view taken by the Trial court is a possible view which could have been taken on the basis of the evidence on record;

8.4. If the view taken is a possible view, the appellate court cannot overturn the order of acquittal on the ground that another view was also possible; and

8.5. The appellate court can interfere with the order of acquittal only if it comes to a finding that the only conclusion which can be recorded on the basis of the evidence on record was that the guilt of the Accused was proved beyond a reasonable doubt and no other conclusion was possible.

39. Thus, it is beyond the pale of doubt that the scope of interference by an appellate Court for reversing the judgment of acquittal recorded by the Trial Court in favour of the Accused has to be exercised within the four corners of the following principles:

(a) That the judgment of acquittal suffers from patent perversity;

(b) That the same is based on a misreading/omission to consider material evidence on record;

(c) That no two reasonable views are possible and only the view consistent with the guilt of the Accused is possible from the evidence available on record.

40. The appellate Court, in order to interfere with the judgment of acquittal would have to record pertinent findings on the above factors if it is inclined to reverse the judgment of acquittal rendered by the trial Court.


Criminal Appeal No. 985 of 2010

Decided On: 19.04.2024

Babu Sahebagouda Rudragoudar and Ors. Vs. State of Karnataka

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:

B.R. Gavai and Sandeep Mehta, JJ.

Author: Sandeep Mehta, J.

Citation:  MANU/SC/0329/2024.

Read full Judgment here: Click here.

Print Page

No comments:

Post a Comment