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HC Cannot Reverse Acquittal Without Affording Opportunity Of Hearing To Accused Or By Appointing An Amicus Curiae: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
5 July 2019 12:59 PM GMT
HC Cannot Reverse Acquittal Without Affording Opportunity Of Hearing To Accused Or By Appointing An Amicus Curiae: SC [Read Judgment]
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"The High Court erred in reversing the acquittal without affording any opportunity to the appellant-accused or by appointing an amicus curiae to argue the matter on his behalf."

The Supreme Court has observed, the High Court, in a criminal appeal, cannot reverse the acquittal without affording any opportunity of hearing to the accused or by appointing an amicus curiae to argue the matter on his behalf if he does not enter appearance.The bench comprising Justice R. Banumathi and Justice AS Bopanna found favour with the contention that, in the absence of the counsel...

The Supreme Court has observed, the High Court, in a criminal appeal, cannot reverse the acquittal without affording any opportunity of hearing to the accused or by appointing an amicus curiae to argue the matter on his behalf if he does not enter appearance.

The bench comprising Justice R. Banumathi and Justice AS Bopanna found favour with the contention that, in the absence of the counsel for the accused, the High Court should not have decided the appeal on merits.

In this case [Christopher Raj vs. K Vijayakumar], the Madras High Court had reversed the acquittal of the accused and convicted him under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and imposed a fine of Rs.60,000 in default to undergo simple imprisonment for six months.

Setting aside the order and remitting the matter to High court, the bench said:

"When the accused has not entered appearance in the High Court, in our view, the High Court should have issued second notice to the appellant-accused or the High Court Legal Services Committee to appoint an advocate or the High Court could have taken the assistance of amicus curiae. When the accused was not represented, without appointing any counsel as amicus curiae to defend the accused, the High Court ought not to have decided the criminal appeal on merits; more so, when the appellant-accused had the benefit of the acquittal. The High Court erred in reversing the acquittal without affording any opportunity to the appellant-accused or by appointing an amicus curiae to argue the matter on his behalf." 

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