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Scope of interference by high courts in appeal against acquittal: Supreme Court explains

The Supreme Court has reiterated the principles determining the scope of the High Court’s interference in an appeal filed by the State against the acquittal of the accused as laid down by the Trial Court.

The bank of Justice BR Gavai And Judge Sandeep Mehta noted that, “There is no doubt that the scope of interference by an appellate court in reversing the judgment of acquittal passed by the court in favor of the accused must be exercised within the four corners of the following principles:

(a) That the judgment of acquittal suffers from manifest perversity;

(b) That the same is based on misreading/omission while considering material evidence on record;

(c) That there are no two reasonable views possible and that only the view consistent with the guilt of the accused is possible on the basis of the available evidence.

The Court of Appeal, in order to interfere with the judgment of acquittal, would have to record relevant findings on the above factors if it is inclined to reverse the judgment of acquittal. by the court.

The appellants, Babu Sahebagouda Rudragoudar (A-1), Alagond Sahebagouda Rudragoudar (A-2) and Mudakappa @ Gadegappa Rudragoudar (A-3), along with three others, were tried in Sessions Case No. 28 of 2002 for various charges. under the Indian Penal Code.

The court acquitted all six suspects on July 23, 2005. However, the state of Karnataka challenged this acquittal, leading to an appeal in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed the acquittal of A-1, A-2 and A-3, convicted them under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

The appeals against the other suspects varied: A-4’s appeal was withdrawn due to his death, while the appeals against A-5 and A-6 were dismissed, upholding their acquittal. The appellants challenged this decision, leading to the current appeal challenging the reversal of their acquittal and subsequent conviction by the High Court.

The Apex Court observed that none of the essential mandates for an appeal against acquittal had been considered.

It was further noted that neither the evidence of the eyewitness was reliable nor the prosecution gave any corroboration to the hesitant evidence of the eyewitnesses.

In light of this, it was held that, “The position taken by the court in the judgment of 23 July 2005 recording the acquittal of the suspect is a plausible and justified view arising from the discussion of the available evidence. The court’s judgment does not suffer from any weakness or perversity. Therefore, the Supreme Court was not entitled to reverse the well-reasoned judgment of the Court of First Instance, converting the acquittal of the accused appellants into a conviction.’

Title of Cause: Babu Sahebagouda Rudragoudar & Ors. vs. State of Karnataka

Click here to read/download the judgment