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Jayaswamy Vs. State of Karnataka - (Supreme Court) (01 Jun 2018)

Appellate Court on hearing appeal filed against judgment of acquittal will not overrule or otherwise disturb trial Court's acquittal, if there is no substantial and compelling reason for doing so



In present case, five Accused were tried for the offences punishable under Sections 326, 302, and 114 read with Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The trial Court acquitted all the accused, after evaluation of the material on record and after hearing both the parties. By the impugned judgment in Criminal Appeal, the High Court has reversed the judgment of acquittal passed by the trial Court insofar as the Appellant (accused No. 1) is concerned, and consequently convicted the Appellant for the offences under Sections 302 and 326 of IPC. The High Court further, confirmed the judgment and order of acquittal passed by the trial Court insofar as it relates to Accused Nos. 2 to 5.

It is by now well settled that, the Appellate Court hearing the appeal filed against the judgment and order of acquittal will not overrule or otherwise disturb the Trial Court's acquittal if the Appellate Court does not find substantial and compelling reasons for doing so. If the Trial Court's conclusion with regard to the facts is palpably wrong; if the Trial Court's decision was based on erroneous view of law; if the Trial Court's judgment is likely to result in grave miscarriage of justice; if the entire approach of the Trial Court in dealing with the evidence was patently illegal; if the Trial Court judgment was manifestly unjust and unreasonable; and if the Trial Court has ignored the evidence or misread the material evidence or has ignored material documents like dying declaration/report of the ballistic expert etc. the same may be construed as substantial and compelling reasons and the first appellate court may interfere in the order of acquittal. However, if the view taken by the Trial Court while acquitting the Accused is one of the possible views under the facts and circumstances of the case, the Appellate Court generally will not interfere with the order of acquittal particularly in the absence of the aforementioned factors.

The High Court, while convicting the Appellant has confirmed the judgment of acquittal passed in favour of the Accused Nos. 2 to 5. Their acquittal as confirmed by the High Court is not questioned by the State before present Court. Thus, the judgment of the High Court acquitting Accused Nos. 2 to 5 has attained finality. Therefore, it is clear that the Trial Court and the High Court have, on facts, not believed the case of the prosecution in respect of the assault by the Accused Nos. 2 and 3. The specific case of the prosecution is that, Accused Nos. 2 and 3 assaulted the deceased consequent to which they lost their lives. Absolutely, no material is found against the Appellant herein to convict him for the offences under Section 302 of IPC as he had not played any role in the death of the two deceased. In addition to the same, both the Courts have, on facts concluded that, there was no common intention on the part of the accused, in commission of crime.

It is not in dispute that the injured, Honnamma (PW. 23) sustained grievous injury as a result of assault by the Appellant. She was referred to a neurologist for an expert opinion as she had sustained an incised wound over the left parietal area. She had also sustained a fracture at the lower end of her right forearm. Since, the evidence of PW. 23 in respect of an overt act by the Appellant in injuring Honnamma is believable, the High Court was justified in convicting the Appellant for the offence under Section 326 of IPC, but was not justified in convicting the Appellant for the offence under Section 302 of IPC. Accordingly, the appeal is allowed in part.

The Appellant is acquitted of the offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC. Consequently, the judgment of the High Court convicting him for the said offence stands set aside. The judgment passed by the High Court convicting the Appellant for the offence under Section 326 of IPC and sentencing him for imprisonment of 7 years stands confirmed. Appellant has already undergone imprisonment for 11 years. The Appellant is also entitled to set-off the period of imprisonment already undergone with the sentence of seven years imposed. In view of the same, the Appellant shall be released forthwith, if he is not required in any other matter.


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