Scope of Appeal against acquittal

Scope of appeal by High Court against acquittal by Trial Court:

Whether in the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court is justified in interfering with the order of acquittal passed by the learned trial Court?

In the present case, the prosecution as well as the High Court considered the recovery of photographs; recovery of mobile phone belonging to PW7, recovery of the knife and rope at the instance of the accused and on alleged disclosure statements of the accused on 9.9.2010. The prosecution also relied upon the recovery of jeep in which the photographs of the accused were found. The prosecution also relied upon the disclosure statement of the accused Anwar Ali with respect to recovery of crates and for the aforesaid prosecution heavily relied upon the testimony ofPW5, PW6 and PW7. However, it is required to be noted that on appreciation of the entire evidence on record, the trial Court found material contradictions in the deposition of the witnesses of disclosure statements and the recovery of the knife and rope on 9.9.2010 and thereby did not believe the recovery of knife,rope, crates on the basis of the disclosure statements made by the accused and that too recovered on 9.9.2020.

However, the High Court without giving any cogent reasons has interfered with the findings of fact recorded by the learned trial Court solely by observing that those contradictions were minor contradictions and therefore the learned trial Court was not justified in acquitting the accused solely on the basis of such minor contradictions. However, on considering the entire evidence on record, we are in complete agreement with the view taken by the learned trial Court. The contradictions which came to be considered by the learned trial Court cannot be said to be minor contradictions. Continue reading “Scope of Appeal against acquittal”

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]