In case of acquittal by Trial Court, there is double presumption in favour of the accused: High Court of Tripura

Unless there are substantial and compelling reason, judgment of acquittal cannot be overturned. An appellate court, is not open to interfere with the findings of fact recorded by the learned Trial Judge unless such findings reached by him suffer from perversity or incompetence on his part. This was held in Kripesh Sabdakar V. The State of Tripura & Ors[CRL.A 12 OF 2018] in the High Court of Tripura by division bench consisting of JUSTICE MR. AKIL KURESHI and JUSTICE ARINDAM LODH.

Facts are that the appellant had lodged a complaint against assault of his nephew by the respondents. Appeal under S.378(4) of the Criminal CrPC read with S.372 of CrPC had been filed by the appellant against order of acquittal by the learned Sessions Judge.

The counsel for the appellant submitted that the learned Sessions Judge ought to have believed the eye witnesses. He Further argued that the discrepancies in the statements of the prosecution witnesses were minor in nature and should be discarded by the court and there was imminent clear common intention on the part of the accused persons to kill the deceased.

The counsel for respondent contended the prosecution failed to prove the actual place of occurrence of the alleged crime. He further contended that prosecution failed to prove that any of the related witnesses sustained injuries on their persons, and injury reports were produced before the court.

The court discussed the law on the appeal against acquittal and the scope and ambit of Section 378 of CrPC and made reference to the Apex court judgment in Chandrappa & Ors. Vrs. The State of Karnataka, where in the court had held that, “(4) An appellate court, however, must bear in mind that in case of acquittal, there is double presumption in favour of the accused. Firstly, the presumption of innocence is available to him under the fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that every person shall be presumed to be innocent unless he is proved guilty by a competent court of law. Secondly, the accused having secured his acquittal, the presumption of his innocence is further reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the trial court.”

The court also referred to the judgement of Ghurey Lal v. State of U.P, wherein the following observations were made, “In dealing with the cases in which the trial courts have acquitted the accused, should bear in mind that the trial court’s acquittal bolsters the presumption that he is innocent. The appellate court must give due weight and consideration to the decision of the trial court as the trial court had the distinct advantage of watching the demeanour of the witnesses, and was in a better position to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses.”

Considering that there were material contradictions and discrepancies in the prosecution’s case and keeping in mind the settled proposition of law on the subject. The Court held that, the findings arrived at by the learned trial Judge could not be said to be perverse and there was no good and compelling circumstances to overturn the judgment of acquittal of accused persons on benefit of doubt.

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