Scope of appeal against acquittal

Duty of appellate court:

It is the duty of an appellate Court to look into the evidence adduced in the case and arrive at an independent conclusion as to whether the said evidence can be relied upon or not and even if it can be relied upon, then whether the prosecution can be said to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt on the said evidence. The credibility of a witness has to be adjudged by the appellate court in drawing inference from proved and admitted facts. It must be remembered that the appellate court, like the trial court, has to be satisfied affirmatively that the prosecution case is substantially true and the guilt of the accused has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt as the presumption of innocence with which the accused starts, continues right through until he is held guilty by the final Court of Appeal and that presumption is neither strengthened by an acquittal nor weakened by a conviction in the trial court.

[Source:  Padam Singh v. State of U.P., (2000) 1 SCC 621]

Appeal against acquittal:

The power of the appellate Court in an appeal against acquittal is the same as that of an appeal against conviction. But, in an appeal against acquittal, the Court has to bear in mind that the presumption of innocence is in favour of the accused and it is strengthened by the order of acquittal. At the same time, appellate Court will not interfere with the order of acquittal mainly because two views are possible, but only when the High Court feels that the appreciation of evidence is based on erroneous considerations and when there is manifest illegality in the conclusion arrived at by the trial Court.

In the present case, there was manifest irregularity in the appreciation of evidence by the trial Court. The High Court based on sound principles of criminal jurisprudence, has interfered with the judgment of acquittal passed by the trial Court and convicted the accused as the prosecution was successful in proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

[Source: Khurshid Ahmed vs. State of J & K, decided by SC on 15th May 2018]
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