While deciding a criminal appeal on merits, the High Court is required to apply its mind to the entirety of the case including the evidence on the record before arriving at its conclusion, the Supreme Court reiterated.
The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah observed thus while allowing an appeal against an Allahabad High Court judgment which reversed the conviction of the accused by the Trial Court. In this case, the accused was convicted of an offence under Section 364A of the Penal Code and was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for life, to a fine of Rs 5,000 and, in default, to undergo imprisonment for a period of one year. The Trial Court judgment was set aside by the High Court by allowing the appeal. The state, therefore, approached the Apex Court.
Perusing the judgment, the bench noted that there has been no independent evaluation by the High Court of the evidence or of the submissions which were recorded by the High Court. The court noted the following observations made in a recent decision in State of Gujarat vs Bhalchandra Laxmishankar Dave [LL 2021 SC 58]
"So far as the appeal against the order of conviction is concerned, there are no such restrictions and the Court of appeal has wide powers of appreciation of evidence and the High Court has to re-appreciate the entire evidence on record being a First Appellate Court."
Left with no reasoning by the High Court to support the impugned judgment and order, we are of the view that it would be appropriate to allow the appeal and to remand the proceedings back to the High Court for a decision afresh, the bench said while allowing the appeal.
Case: State of Uttar Pradesh vs. Ambarish [CrA 446 of 2021]Coram: Justices DY Chandrachud and MR ShahCitation : LL 2021 SC 238