26 May 2020


Judgments

Supreme Court

Mohd. Akhtar and Ors. Vs. State of Bihar and Ors.

MANU/SC/1413/2018

04.12.2018

Criminal

If the acquittal is justified on a probable view taken by the trial court, it should not be interfered with

In instant Appeals, Court is concerned with the correctness of the judgment of the High Court of by which the judgment of the trial Court was set aside and the acquittal of the Appellants was reversed. The High Court convicted the Appellants under Section 302 read with Sections 34 and 148 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment. High Court felt that apart from minor inconsistencies, the evidence of the eye witnesses was reliable and there was sufficient light to identify the Accused. The Accused shared a common intention of killing the deceased according to the High Court. The delay in registering the FIR was found to be not fatal to the case of the Prosecution. The question that falls for determination in this case is whether the High Court was right in setting aside the acquittal of the Appellants and convicting them for an offence of murder.

Interference with the judgment of the trial Court in present case by the High Court is on a re-appreciation of evidence which is undoubtedly permissible. Though the High Court was aware of the well-settled principles of law in matters relating to appeals against acquittals, it failed to apply the same in their proper perspective. Interference with an order of acquittal is not permissible on the ground that a different view is possible. If the acquittal is justified on a probable view taken by the trial Court, it should not be interfered with. The reasons given by the trial Court for acquittal mainly pertain to the delay in lodging the FIR, untrustworthy eye witnesses, improbability of identification of the Accused, non-examination of independent witnesses, previous enmity between the Accused and the witnesses, non-production of important prosecution witnesses and improper investigation of the case.

The judgment of acquittal by the trial Court is justified which ought not to have been interfered with by the High Court. The High Court could not have reversed a judgment of acquittal merely because another view is possible. The High Court brushed aside the findings recorded by the trial court relating to certain omissions as being minor and held the omissions should not have been the basis on which the Appellants have been acquitted. The High Court ignored the fact that the presumption of innocence in favour of the Appellants is further strengthened by an order of acquittal. No perversity in the judgment of the trial court in acquitting the Appellants has been demonstrated by the High Court for interfering with the judgment of the trial court. The Appeals are allowed. The judgment of the High Court is set aside and the judgment of the trial court is restored.

Tags : Conviction Presumption Innocence

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