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Thursday, April 30, 2015

where two views are probable - it is an error in presuming a version against the accused without considering the view which is favourable to the accused . - High court committed wrong and exceeded it's power in reversing the acquittal - when the interested witnesses are contradicted each other - examination of independent witness is necessary - when only one independent witness turned Hostile - accused is entitled for benefit of doubt - Apex court set aside the orders of High court - 2015 S.C. msklawreports



First
the powers of appellate Court while dealing  with  an  appeal  against  an order of acquittal.
Second,
 the sufficiency of  the  testimonies
      of   PW-4  and  PW-5  to  convict  the  accused  persons  without  any
      corroboration from an independent witness
and
the  relevancy  of  the
      statement of a hostile witness involving appreciation of the statement
      of PW-8 who turned hostile.

This Court culled down five general principles in Chandrappa and  Ors. 

as follows:

           “(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.”

The Court referred to Kallu alias Masih and Ors. 
in the  above-mentioned  judgment,  
where  it  held
      that;

            “While deciding an appeal against acquittal, the  power  of  the
            Appellate Court is  no  less  than  the  power  exercised  while
            hearing appeals against conviction. In both types of appeals the
            power  exists  to  review  the  entire  evidence.  However,  one
            significant difference is that an order of acquittal will not be
            interfered with, by an appellate court, where  the  judgment  of
            the trial court is based on  evidence  and  the  view  taken  is
            reasonable and plausible. It will not reverse  the  decision  of
            the trial court merely because a different view is possible. The
            appellate  Court  will  also  bear  in  mind  that  there  is  a
            presumption of innocence  in  favour  of  the  accused  and  the
            accused is entitled to get the benefit of any doubt. Further  if
            it decides to interfere, it should assign reasons for  differing
            with the decision of the trial Court”.

 In our view the Trial Court has  given  a
reasoned decision after  careful  and  thorough  analysis  of  the  evidence
produced by the parties. 
The Trial Court also had the advantage  of  looking
at the demeanor of the witnesses, and was correct in  granting  the  benefit
of doubt to the accused  and  acquitting  them.  
The  High  Court  erred  in
presuming a version against the accused as the view which is  favourable  to
the accused should be taken in cases where two views are probable.

 PW-4 and
      PW-5 are related witnesses as they are the brothers  of  the  deceased
      Hasen Ali. There is no bar on the  admissibility  of  a  statement  by
      related witnesses supporting the prosecution case, but it should stand
      the test of  being  credible,  reliable,  trustworthy,  admissible  in
      accordance with law and corroborated by other witnesses or documentary
      evidence of the prosecution.
In  the  present  case,  however,  the  prosecution
      witnesses PW-4 and PW-5, contradict each other, and  their  statements
      are not corroborated by  any  independent  witness  in  spite  of  the
      incident happening in the market place, with shops on  both  sides  of
      the road. Therefore, in our view, as the testimonies of PW-4 and  PW-5
      are not completely reliable, this is a fit case where corroboration by
      an independent witness was required. The case of the prosecution  also
      weakens on the ground that the only independent  witness  PW-8  turned
      hostile.
A similar situation arose in Shyamal Saha and Anr.  , where the only independent  witness
      turned hostile. This Court decided to affirm the acquittal and granted
      benefit of doubt to the accused considering the factual background and
      circumstances involved in the case.Accordingly, this appeal is allowed and  the  impugned
      judgment and order  passed  by  the  High  Court  is  set  aside.- 2015 S.C. msklawreports

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