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Trial Court Not Expected To Act In A Particular Way Depending On 'Sensitivity' Of A Case: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
14 Dec 2021 4:50 AM GMT
Trial Court Not Expected To Act In A Particular Way Depending On Sensitivity Of A Case: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that a Trial Court cannot be expected to act in a particular way depending upon the sensitivity of the case.Rather it should be appreciated if a trial court decides a case on its own merit despite its sensitivity, the bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh said while upholding a Trial Court judgment acquitting two young men accused of murdering...

The Supreme Court observed that a Trial Court cannot be expected to act in a particular way depending upon the sensitivity of the case.

Rather it should be appreciated if a trial court decides a case on its own merit despite its sensitivity, the bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh said while upholding a Trial Court judgment acquitting two young men accused of murdering a police officer.

The prosecution case against the accused duo was that both the accused carried three weapons, waylaid the deceased at a signal in a main road at about 5 p.m. and after the initial attack, dragged him to the pavement, and thereafter inflicted multiple injuries. During trial, most of the witnesses pertaining to conspiracy, occurrence, recovery and extraordinary judicial confession turned hostile. The accused were acquitted by granting benefit of doubt.

In appeal, The Trial Court judgment of acquittal was reversed by the High Court.

Before the Apex Court, it was contended on behalf of the accused that when the trial court which had the advantage of seeing the witnesses in person during their deposition gave its verdict, it could not have been set aside through a cryptic order by the High Court without adequate discussion. The State supported the judgment convicting the accused.

While setting aside the High Court judgment, the Apex Court bench noted that the Trial Court delivered 'a well merited judgment'. The High Court did not undertake the exercise as mandated under Section 378 read with Section 384 CrPC in reversing the reasoned decision rendered by the trial court, the bench said.

The following observations have been made in the judgment

Presumption of innocence gathers strength when trial court acquits accused

20.Section 378 CrPC enables the State to prefer an appeal against an order of acquittal. Section 384 CrPC speaks of the powers that can be exercised by the Appellate Court. When the trial court renders its decision by acquitting the accused, presumption of innocence gathers strength before the Appellate Court. As a consequence, the onus on the prosecution becomes more burdensome as there is a double presumption of innocence. Certainly, the court of first instance has its own advantages in delivering its verdict, which is to see the witnesses in person while they depose. The Appellate Court is expected to involve itself in a deeper, studied scrutiny of not only the evidence before it, but is duty bound to satisfy itself whether the decision of the trial court is both possible and plausible view. When two views are possible, the one taken by the trial court in a case of acquittal is to be followed on the touchstone of liberty along with the advantage of having seen the witnesses. Article 21 of the Constitution of India also aids the accused after acquittal in a certain way, though not absolute. Suffice it is to state that the Appellate Court shall remind itself of the role required to play, while dealing with a case of an acquittal.

An Appellate Court shall not expect the trial court to act in a particular way depending upon the sensitivity of the case.

21.Every case has its own journey towards the truth and it is the Court's role undertake. Truth has to be found on the basis of evidence available before it. There is no room for subjectivity nor the nature of offence affects its performance. We have a hierarchy of courts in dealing with cases. An Appellate Court shall not expect the trial court to act in a particular way depending upon the sensitivity of the case. Rather it should be appreciated if a trial court decides a case on its own merit despite its sensitivity.

 Indictment and condemnation over a decision rendered, on considering all the materials placed before it, should be avoided

22.At times, courts do have their constraints. We find, different decisions being made by different courts, namely, trial court on the one hand and the Appellate Courts on the other. If such decisions are made due to institutional constraints, they do not augur well. The district judiciary is expected to be the foundational court, and therefore, should have the freedom of mind to decide a case on its own merit or else it might become a stereotyped one rendering conviction on a moral platform. Indictment and condemnation over a decision rendered, on considering all the materials placed before it, should be avoided. The Appellate Court is expected to maintain a degree of caution before making any remark.


Case name: Mohan @Srinivas @ Seena @Tailor Seena vs State of Karnataka

Citation: LL 2021 SC 735

Case no. and Date: CrA 1420 OF 2014 | 13 December 2021

Coram: Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh 

Click here to Read/Download Judgment




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