Intervention of the High Court and its power to reverse an order of acquittal
According to Chapter XXIX of CRPC section 378 clearly provide the intervention of high court and its power to reverse and order of acquittal. Sec-378 of Criminal Procedure Code had been amended in 2005 to reduce reckless acquittals. An appeal against order of acquittal passed by session’s court will lie to the High Court. In an appeal from acquittal the High Court has full power to review the entire evidence upon which the order of acquittal was passed and then come to its own conclusion. The High Court shall always give weight to matters like:
i.) View of trail judge as to credibility of witnesses.
ii.) Presumption of innocence in favour of accused.
iii.) The right of accused as to benefit of doubt.
Once the High Court comes to a conclusion that view as to acquittal is sincerely unreasonable and perverse, it could reverse it into conviction. The High Court is given the strength to reappreciate the proof as properly in exceptional circumstances. Where there are views, one in favour of accused needs to be preferred, however in which applicable substances aren't taken into consideration via way of means of path trial court to reach at a view, The High
Court has an obligation to reach at accurate end via way of means of taking one of a kind view from trial court.
Where the High Court has, on appeal, reversed an order of acquittal of an accused character and convicted him and sentenced him to demise or to imprisonment for existence or to imprisonment for a time period of ten years or more, he may also appeal to the Supreme Court.
IN CONTEXT WITH ABOVE PROVISION IN ONE OF THE RECENT CASE OF ANWAR ALI AND ANOTHER V. STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH, 25 SEPTEMBER, 2020
SUPREME COURT SAID: LACK OF MOTIVE IN CASE OF CIRCUMSTANCIAL EVIDENCE LIES IN FAVOUR OF THE ACCUSED.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The appellant-accused aggrieved through the decision of Himachal Pradesh High Court of reversing the order of acquittal given by the Trial Court and convicting him for offences punishable u/s 302 read with 201 and 420 of the India Penal Code, has so approached the Supreme Court. The appellant was charged with the murder of Deepak Kumar, whose body was discovered on 02-09-2010, close to Bihali bypass road, Chandigarh. The body was discovered through PW4 who informed the Bhutar Police Station, his assertion was recorded and an FIR was registered. The dead body was recognized by the deceased’s father. the investigation officer performed the investigation and the body was despatched for post-mortem, SHO Narayan on 05-09-2010 had obtained mystery facts about an abandoned car in Chandigarh, Investigation Officer (IO) in conjunction with other police officers went to recover the car from sector- 45C, Chandigarh. One envelope containing a cellular phone, 3 pictures and files of the car had been discovered in the jeep, the IO detected a number from the cellular phone and from the recovered pictures the accused became searched, each the accused had been arrested on 08-09-2010. During the investigation, the statements of the accused had been recovered u/s-313 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, IO recovered crates from Punjab; one knife and rope were recovered on 09-09-2020 allegedly used within side the commission of the crime. he prosecution earlier than the Trial Court primarily based totally its case on circumstantial proof within side the absence of direct proof, the Trial Court after going through the evidence on record, did now no longer agree with the disclosure statements, neither believed the healing of knife and cord, and the cellular and pictures recovered from the jeep. It determined the prosecution to have withheld material proof concerning sniffer dogs, and that the recoveries had been made in advance at the same time as the panchnama became made from a later date. The prosecution was found to have failed to establish a chain of occasions because it was a case of circumstantial evidence, so the Trial Court acquitted the accused for the offences filed against them. The state therefore filed an appeal before the Himachal Pradesh High Court, who reversed the order of acquittal given by the Trial Court and convicted both the accused, aggrieved by this, the accused has approached the Supreme Court for relief.
I. Whether the Trial Court well considered the evidence of the prosecution and rightly acquitted the accused. ·
II. Whether the High Court was justified in interfering with and reversing the order of acquittal passed through the Trial Court.
The case was heard before the Supreme Court Bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah, JJ. The court went through the evidence in report, the decisions of the Trial Court and High Court in addition to the information and situations of the case. The court cited the case of Bablu v. State of Kerala wherein the principal to be accompanied for acquittal u/s- 378 of the CrPC was laid down as that the court can intervene best in exceptional instances wherein there may be a compelling situation and the impugned judgement is found to be perverse or irrational. The appellate court need to deliver proper attention to the presumption of innocence in favour of the accused, the acquittal order of the Trial Court helps this presumption of innocence. The court then found the scope of sec-378 of CrPC, and the High Court’s interference within side the order of acquittal. It was mentioned that when the High Court entertains an appeal against an order of acquittal it's far entitled to rethink the entire evidence on record and are available to its very own conclusions.
The court mentioned that during cases of circumstantial evidence like the present case, there needs to be whole chain of circumstances and evidence from which there is no other end probable except that the crime was committed by the accused and no one else, and such evidence should be consistent with the guilt of the accused. They mentioned that the High Court’s reasoning for interfering with the order of the Trial Court was now no longer compelling. They held that the IO did not observe the procedure given u/s- 166 (3&4) CrPC, and additionally did now no longer comply with the provisions of sec-100(4) of CrPC, 1973, and though non-compliance of those provisions alone is not a floor to acquit the accused, considering the overall circumstances of the case, creates severe doubts. The court mentioned that the accused’s submission that he deserves to be acquitted due to failure of the prosecution to show cause isn't always a sufficient ground to reject the prosecution’s case. The courtroom docket cited the case of Bahri v. State of Bihar (1995), wherein it was laid down that if motive is proved it will provide a link to the chain of circumstantial evidence, but its absence cannot be ground to reject the prosecution’s case. But as held in the case of Babu, the absence of motive in a case of circumstantial evidence is a factor which lies on the accused’s favour.
The court held that the Trial Court’s findings cannot be held to be perverse contrary to the evidence on record, it was justified in acquitting the accused due to prosecution’s failure to complete the chain of events. The High Court was held not justified on interfering with the findings of the Trial Court and reversing its order of acquittal. The High Court order dated 20-09-2016, was found not be sustainable and was so quashed and set aside. The order of the Trial Court dated 15-06-2012 was upheld and restored. The accused/appellants- Anwar Ali and Sharif Mohammed were ordered to be set at liberty.
Suresh Chandra Bahri v. State of Bihar 1995 Supp (1) SCC 80
Babu vs State Of Kerala (Cr Appeal no 104 of 2009)
The article first published on Lexology.com and the same can be accessed here.