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Plea To declare An Acquittal Judgment of Trial Court As "Honourable Acquittal" Not Maintainable: Madras HC [Read Judgement]

Radhika Roy
19 Nov 2019 9:10 AM GMT
Plea To declare An Acquittal Judgment of Trial Court As Honourable Acquittal Not Maintainable: Madras HC [Read Judgement]
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A Division Bench of the High Court of Madras comprising of Chief Justice Mr. A. P. Shahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad held that a Revision or a Petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure seeking declaration to declare that an acquittal judgment of a trial court as "Honourable Acquittal" is not maintainable. 

An Appeal had been filed against the Order dated 27.04.2019 passed by a Ld. Single Judge "contending that the learned Single Judge had erred in answering questions, which does not conform to the requirement of Rule 13(e) of the Rules, on which reliance has been placed, inasmuch as the authority concerned while passing the order impugned nowhere records a finding that the recruitment of the appellant would be detrimental for the police force on account of his mere involvement in a criminal case, where he has been acquitted." 
The Appellant also sought to take advantage of an Order dated 18.12.2018 wherein the learned Single Judge entertained the petition filed under Section 482 of the Code for a declaration that the acquittal of the Appellant was honourable. 
Section 482 of the Code: 
"Section 482. Saving of inherent powers of High Court. 
Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice." 
The Judgment examines numerous cases and states that the aspect of "honourable acquittal" cannot be delved into by the Hon'ble Court under the umbrella of inherent powers rendered by Section 482 of the Code as these connotations were not defined in the Code. Therefore, such a remedy could not be availed to seek a declaration or an enhancement of the quality of the order of acquittal passed by a criminal Court.
"In our opinion, the matter does not remain res integra and stands now settled that such an exercise of jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. to declare the judgment to be one of an honourable acquittal, in spite of the acquittal having been extended on the benefit of doubt, would not sustain in law. To this end, we find full support from the judgement in the case of 'Commissioner of Police, New Delhi and Anr. v. Mehar Singh', reported in (2013) 7 SCC 685." 
The Court also held that when a judgment is delivered by a Court of competent jurisdiction in terms of Section 352 of the Code, finality is attached subject to appeal or revision, wherever the same is provided under the statute. 
"The limits of corrective jurisdiction to rectify an error in a final judgment are circumscribed by the boundaries set out in Section 362 of the Cr.P.C. itself. The phrase "otherwise to secure the ends of justice" has to be read ejusdem generis in terms of Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. and not to upturn, explain, dilute or in any way modify a final judgment delivered by a Court of competent jurisdiction – whether of conviction or acquittal." 
The Court stated that in matters of correction, the procedure in criminal matters was confined to the extent of what was defined under Section 362 of the Cr.P.C and not any or every mistake of the Court could be rectified by itself upon invoking the inherent powers under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. 
"It is, therefore, clear from the ratio of the decisions referred to herein above that a judgment delivered by a court of competent jurisdiction, exercising criminal jurisdiction, cannot be altered or modified in view of the express bar under Section 62 of the Cr.P.C., except in cases of recall in the circumstances as discussed in the case of Davindra Pal Singh Bhullar (supra)." 
The judgment held that if there existed a scenario wherein a learned Single Judge believed that there were certain aspects which had not been taken into consideration, the course which was open to the Judge was to make a request to the Chief Justice for a reference in the event the same required any further authoritative pronouncement or a re-visiting of the position of law. This was done in order to avoid the possibility of inconsistent decisions on points of law and to promote consistency and certainty in the development of the law. The case of Chandra Prakash and Ors. v. State of U.P. and Ors. [AIR 2002 Sc 1652] was cited for the furtherance of this point. 

"This has by now been well settled that merely because there can be another innovative argument or more plausible reasoning, a Bench of lesser strength cannot record its disagreement so as to lay down a law contrary to that which has already been laid down by a Larger Bench. This would be contrary to the judicial discipline in a Court of hierarchy by which all High Courts and the Apex Court are governed." 
The judgment held that the word "involvement" is the guiding factor as the Rule clearly provides for a declaration by the candidate as to whether "he was involved in a criminal case or not". Additionally, the judgment also held that in such matters the Appointing Authority must be given certain latitude as injuncting them would entail robbing them of the discretion to engage person suitable for the posts. While the material on record with respect to the candidate must be given objective consideration, but the assessment of the Authority regarding the appointment of a person involved in a criminal case must also be respected. 
However, as the impugned order of the Appointing Authority does not justify or discuss the reasons for disqualifying the candidature of the Appellant, the appeal was allowed. 

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