Appeals against Acquittal; 4 Principles & 25 Case Laws

The scope of interference by Court of Appeal against an order of acquittal has been examined by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in catena of judgments. In Muralidhar @ Gidda and Anr. Vs. State of Karnataka, MANU/SC/0494/2016 noting the principals laid down in earlier decisions as early as 1951, in para no. 12 it was held as under:

This Court has consistently held that in dealing with appeals against acquittal, the appellate court must bear in mind the following:

(i) There is presumption of innocence in favour of an accused person and such presumption is strengthened by the order of acquittal passed in his favour by the trial court,

(ii) The accused person is entitled to the benefit of reasonable doubt when it deals with the merit of the appeal against acquittal,

(iii) Though, the power of the appellate court in considering the appeals against acquittal are as extensive as its powers in appeals against convictions but the appellate court is generally loath in disturbing the finding of fact recorded by the trial court. It is so because the trial court had an advantage of seeing the demeanor of the witnesses. If the trial court takes a reasonable view of the facts of the case, interference by the appellate court with the judgment of acquittal is not justified. Unless, the conclusions reached by the trial court are palpably wrong or based on erroneous view of the law or if such conclusions are allowed to stand, they are likely to result in grave injustice, the reluctance on the part of the appellate court in interfering with such conclusions is fully justified, and

(iv) Merely because the appellate court on re-appreciation and re-evaluation of the evidence is inclined to take a different view, interference with the judgment of acquittal is not justified if the view taken by the trial court is a possible view. The evenly balanced views of the evidence must not result in the interference by the appellate court in the judgment of the trial court.

Case Law Reference

  • Tulsiram Kanu v. State [MANU/SC/0076/1951 : AIR 1954 SC 1]
  • Madan Mohan Singh v. State of U.P. [MANU/SC/0162/1954 : AIR 1954 SC 637]
  • Atley v. State of U.P. [MANU/SC/0102/1955 : AIR 1955 SC 807]
  • Aher Raja Khima v. State of Saurashtra [MANU/SC/0040/1955 : AIR 1956 SC 217]
  • Balbir Singh v. State of Punjab [MANU/SC/0101/1956 : AIR 1957 SC 216]
  • M.G. Agarwal v. State of Maharashtra [MANU/SC/0117/1962 : AIR 1963 SC 200]
  • Noor Khan v. State of Rajasthan [MANU/SC/0083/1963 : AIR 1964 SC 286]
  • Khedu Mohton v. State of Bihar [MANU/SC/0139/1970 : (1970) 2 SCC 450]
  • Shivaji Sahabrao Bobade v. State of Maharashtra [MANU/SC/0167/1973 : (1973) 2 SCC 793]
  • Lekha Yadav v. State of Bihar [MANU/SC/0131/1973 : (1973) 2 SCC 424]
  • Khem Karan v. State of U.P. [MANU/SC/0158/1974 : (1974) 4 SCC 603]
  • Bishan Singh v. State of Punjab[MANU/SC/0090/1973 : (1974) 3 SCC 288]
  • Umedbhai Jadavbhai v. State of Gujarat[MANU/SC/0164/1977 : (1978) 1 SCC 228]
  • K. Gopal Reddy v. State of A.P. [MANU/SC/0104/1978 : (1979) 1 SCC 355]
  • Tota Singh v. State of Punjab[MANU/SC/0320/1987 : (1987) 2 SCC 529]
  • Ram Kumar v. State of Haryana[MANU/SC/0058/1995 : 1995 Supp (1) SCC 248]
  • Madan Lal v. State of J and K[MANU/SC/1306/1997 : (1997) 7 SCC 677]
  • Sambasivan v. State of Kerala[MANU/SC/0356/1998 : (1998) 5 SCC 412]
  • Bhagwan Singh v. State of M.P. [MANU/SC/0218/2002 : (2002) 4 SCC 85]
  • Harijana Thirupala v. Public Prosecutor, High Court of A.P. [MANU/SC/0629/2002 : (2002) 6 SCC 470]
  • C. Antony v. K.G. Raghavan Nair [MANU/SC/0968/2002 : (2003) 1 SCC 1]
  • State of Karnataka v. K. Gopalakrishna [MANU/SC/0071/2005 : (2005) 9 SCC 291]
  • State of Goa v. Sanjay Thakran [MANU/SC/7187/2007 : (2007) 3 SCC 755]
  • Chandrappa v. State of Karnataka [MANU/SC/7108/2007 : (2007) 4 SCC 415]
  • Muralidhar @ Gidda and Anr. Vs. State of Karnataka, MANU/SC/0494/2016