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Acquittal Appeals | Appellate Court Shouldn't Give Fresh Reasonings If Reasoning Of Court Below Is Just: Allahabad High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
4 Aug 2022 4:53 PM GMT
Allahabad High Court, Section 106 Evidence Act, Prosecution, Discharging Duty, Prove Case, Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Justice Manoj Misra and Justice Syed Aftab Husain Rizvi, Shivaji Chintappa Patil vs. State Of Maharashtra LL 2021 SC 125
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The Allahabad High Court has observed that in acquittal appeals, the appellate Court is not required to rewrite the judgment or to give fresh reasonings when the reasons assigned by the Court below are found to be just and proper.

The bench of Justice Dr. Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Justice Ajai Tyagi further observed that while exercising appellate powers, even if two reasonable views/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 case in brief

The Court was hearing a Government appeal against the judgment and order passed by Additional Sessions Judge (Special), Baghpat in connection with a murder case whereby the accused persons Jagat Singh, Ramesh, and Suresh @ Lala were acquitted for the offence under Sections 307, 504 I.P.C. and against the acquittal of Suresh @ Lala who was acquitted for the offence under Section 25 of Arms Act, 1959.

Along with the abovesaid appeal, the Court was also hearing the first appeal preferred by the appellant-Lakhan @ Babblu in connection with the same murder case wherein the Additional Sessions Judge (Special), Baghpat had convicted and sentenced him for the offence under Section 302 IPC.

As per the allegations, accused Lakhan @ Babblu (convict under 302 IPC), Jagat Singh (acquitted), and Suresh (acquitted) had held the country made pistol in their hands and started abusing the deceased (Rajneesh) and his relatives.

Thereafter, Jagat Singh, Suresh and Ramesh caught hold Rajneesh (deceased) in their arms and Lakhan @ Babblu fired at Rajneesh (deceased) from close range, rather putting the barrel of Tamancha on his left upper arm. Rajneesh fell on the ground and died.

Submissions put forth

With regard to the acquitted accused persons, the counsel for the accused-respondents submitted that they were rightly acquitted by the trial court because their presence on the spot was doubtful.

It was submitted that according to the prosecution version, the acquitted accused had also fired at the witnesses but there was no injury to anyone, nor any other weapon was recovered. It was also submitted that catching hold of the deceased by three persons was also not possible.

Significantly, it was further argued that the accused/convict Lakhan @ Babblu had fired at the deceased by putting the barrel of Tamancha on his body, which was left hand, as is evident from ante mortem injuries and accidently, the bullet pierced into the heart of the deceased by making exit wound after entering the hand.

Therefore, it was contended that accused Lakhan @ Babblu had no intention to commit the murder of the deceased because if it had been the intention then he could have fired on chest directly. Hence, this case cannot go beyond the scope of Section 304 of I.P.C.

Court's observations

At the outset, the Court noted that as far as the acquittal of accused persons were concerned, the trial court had noted that prosecution Witnesses were interested witnesses and the same was not found wholly reliable as there were many contradictions in their evidence.

"We have also found various improvements in the testimony of prosecution evidence before the trial court. It is also very hard to believe that despite there being firing by accused persons on willingness but no one has sustained any injury and on analysing the evidence from the angle that three acquitted accused persons caught hold of the deceased simultaneously then also there was every possibility of sustaining injury by them also, which has not come in ocular version of prosecution," the Court added as it found justification in Trial Court's Judgment.

Against this backdrop, the Court opined that the view taken by the trial court regarding the acquittal of the accused persons was correct and therefore, referring to catena of judgments, the High Court upheld trial court's acquittal order and held thus:

"...if the view taken by the trial court while acquitting the accused was a possible, reasonable view of on basis of sifting the evidence, the High Court ought not to interfere with such acquittal merely because it was possible to take contrary view."

Consequently, the Court held that there was no need to interfere with their acquittal and the appeal preferred by the State was liable to be dismissed.

Now, regarding the conviction of Lakhan @ Babblu, the Court noted that in view of the evidence of the witnesses and medical evidence including post mortem report, the Court below had ruled that his conviction was appropriate.

However, perusing the medical report, and evidence of record, the Court noted that the offence would be one punishable under Section 304 part-I of the IPC. To reach at this conclusion, the Court remarked thus:

"Evidence on record goes to show that it is the case of prosecution in First Information Report that accused-Lakhan @ Babblu made a single fire only, that too by putting barrel of the weapon on the left arm of the deceased. Ante mortem injuries in post-mortem report go to show that bullet made entry wound on the left arm of the deceased and made exit wound also and then it entered the chest of the deceased. No second fire was made, hence, it appears that appellant-Lakhan @ Babblu had no intention to commit the murder of deceased but he intentionally caused such bodily injury as was likely to cause death...it appears that the death caused by the accused was not intended but he intentionally caused such bodily injury, which was likely to cause death, therefore, the instant case false under the Exceptions 4 to Section 300 IPC."

Consequently, appellant-Lakhan @ Babblu was held guilty of commission of the offence under Section 304 (Part-I) IPC instead of offence under Section 302 IPC.

Case title - Lakhan @ Babblu v. State of U.P. [CRIMINAL APPEAL No. - 5765 of 2011] along with connected government appeal

Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 357

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