17 June 2024


Judgments

Supreme Court

Nikhil Chandra Mondal vs. State of West Bengal

MANU/SC/0211/2023

03.03.2023

Criminal

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 appeal challenges the judgment and order passed by the High Court thereby reversing the judgment and order passed by the trial court, vide which the trial court had acquitted the appellant for the charge under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 ( “IPC”). High Court convicted the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for life and a fine of Rs.2,000 and in default of payment of fine, to undergo further imprisonment for a period of six months.

The circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established. It has been held that the circumstances concerned “must or should” and not “may be” established. The circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one sought to be proved, and that there must be a chain of evidence so complete so as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.

It is a settled principle of law that, extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence. It has been held that where an extra-judicial confession is surrounded by suspicious circumstances, its credibility becomes doubtful and it loses its importance. There is no doubt that conviction can be based on extra-judicial confession, but in the very nature of things, it is a weak piece of evidence.

The scope of interference in an appeal against acquittal is very well crystalised. Unless such a finding is found to be perverse or illegal/impossible, it is not permissible for the appellate Court to interfere with the same. Recently, a three-Judges Bench of this Court in the case of Rajesh Prasad v. State of Bihar and Another has considered various earlier judgments on the scope of interference in a case of acquittal. It held that there is double presumption in favour of the accused. Firstly, the presumption of innocence that 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 innocence is further reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the court. 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 view taken by the trial court could not be said to be either perverse or illegal/impossible to warrant interference. The High Court has grossly erred in interfering with the well-reasoned judgment and order of acquittal passed by the trial court. The impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court convicting the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC is quashed and set aside. Appeal allowed.

Tags : Conviction Evidence Credibility

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