Nature of Right Right of an appeal is statutory right and hence a substantive right . But being part of procedural code , it also embraces both procedural and substantive aspects . Unless the legislature grants right to appeal , till then there is no right to appeal , it has to be expressly granted by the legislature . Appeal and revision difference : In State of Kerala vs. K.M. Charia Abdullah & Co. (AIR 1965 SC 1585) this Court has highlighted the difference between the two jurisdictions in the following words:
"There is an essential distinction between an appeal and a revision. The distinction is based on the differences implicit in the said two expressions. An appeal is a continuation of the proceedings; in effect the entire proceedings are before the appellate authority and it has power to review the evidence subject to the statutory limitations prescribed. But in the case of a revision, whatever powers the reversional authority may or may not have, it has not the power to review the evidence unless the statute expressly confers on it that power." Supreme Court of India
The Associated Cement Co. Ltd vs Keshvanand on 16 December, 1997
It is trite legal position that appellate jurisdiction is coextensive with original court's jurisdiction as for appraisal and appreciation of evidence and reaching findings on facts and appellate court is free to reach its own conclusion on evidence untrammeled by any finding entered by the trial court. Reversional powers on the other hand belong to supervisory jurisdiction of a superior court. While exercising reversional powers the court has to confine to the legality and propriety of the findings and also whether the subordinate court has kept itself within the bounds of is jurisdiction vested in it. Though the difference between the two jurisdictions is subtle, it is quite real and has now become well recognised in legal provinces. 372 In Legal Representatives vs. State of Karnataka & Ors, 2018 (14) SCALE 32 has observed that the victim should be heard by the Court before awarding an appropriate punishment/sentence to the accused person Whether proviso allows the victim to appeal for enhancement of sentence? victim (as defined in Section 2(wa) of the Code) shall have a right to prefer an Appeal in the following 3 types of cases under 372 proviso:
(i) Acquittal of the Accused
(ii) Convicting of the Accused for a lesser offence
(iii) Imposing inadequate Compensation In other words, the victim has no right to prefer an Appeal against „inadequacy of sentence‟, a right which is available only to the State. The State, however, does not have any right to file any Appeal against "inadequacy of Compensation", a right, which is available only to a victim.
The term „inadequacy of sentence‟ has a special connotation and a distinct statutory demarcation if the provisions of Section 375(d) and Section 377 of the Code are compared. Scheme of Section 377, which provides for right of Appeal to the State/Prosecution, is entirely different from the right of Appeal conferred upon a victim under the Proviso to Section 372 of the Code. Under the scheme of Section 377 not only the State/Prosecution can file an Appeal based upon inadequacy of sentence, but even the Accused can plead for his acquittal or for reduction of the sentence as contemplated under Section 377(3) of the Code.
As against this, if the scheme of Proviso to Section 372 of the Code is compared, only a victim has an absolute right to file an Appeal challenging imposition of inadequate Compensation in addition to the right of Appeal against acquittal and also challenging the conviction based on lesser offence. There is, however, no provision in the entire Code empowering the State Prosecution to file an Appeal against an order imposing inadequate Compensation.
In light of different types of right of Appeal provided to the victim and to the State/Prosecution, it will not be proper to hold that the right of either of them is dependent upon the other. To put it differently, only victim can file an Appeal against an order of imposing „inadequate Compensation‟ in addition to his right of Appeal against acquittal and convicting the Accused for a lesser offence and therefore, to club his right and make it dependent upon the exercise of right of Appeal at the instance of the State would be not only be unworkable, but would run contrary to the scheme and lead to absurdity Supreme Court in National Commission for Women vs State of Delhi and Anr. (2010) 12 SCC 599, while examining Section 372 Cr.P.C., has categorically observed that though the provision does confer a right of appeal on the victim, yet it does not envisage an appeal against inadequate sentence. The relevant portion of the said judgment is reproduced hereinbelow:-
"8. Chapter XXIX of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with "Appeal(s)". Section 372 specifically provides that no appeal shall lie from a judgment or order of a criminal court except as provided by the Code or by any other law which authorises an appeal. The proviso inserted by Section 372 (Act 5 of 2009) with effect from 31-12-2009, gives a limited right to the victim to file an appeal in the High Court against any order of a criminal court acquitting the accused or convicting him for a lesser offence or the imposition of inadequate compensation. The proviso may not thus be applicable as it came in the year 2009 (long after the present incident) and, in any case, would confer a right only on a victim and also does not envisage an appeal against an inadequate sentence. An appeal would thus be maintainable only under Section 377 to the High Court as it is effectively challenging the quantum of sentence."
13. This Court in a catena of judgments has also held that an appeal by the victim under Section 372 Cr.P.C. is not maintainable if it only challenges the order on sentence on the ground that it imposes inadequate punishment. Ashok Malhotra Vs. State (Govt. of NCT Delhi) and Another, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 10864 wherein it has been held as under:-
"19. The proviso to Section 372 of the CrPC does not contemplate an appeal against an order of a Court imposing an inadequate sentence/punishment. It is well settled that there is no inherent right of an appeal and the said right is a statutory right and is available only if it is conferred by a statute. In several decisions, an appeal has been described as a creature of a statute. (See: Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. v. Dilbahar Singh: (2014) 9 SCC 102). In National Commission for Women (supra), the Supreme Court had observed that "an appeal is a creature of a statute and cannot lie under any inherent power". In view of the above, the contention that respondent no. 2 has an inherent right to appeal against an order of a court imposing inadequate punishment on the accused, is unmerited.
20. The proviso to Section 372 of the CrPC provides a limited right to the victim to file an appeal. The plain language of the said proviso indicates that it does not contemplate an appeal against an inadequate sentence."
Sarathi in Interpretation of Statutes at pages 294-295 has collected the following principles in regard to a proviso:
(a)When one finds a proviso to a section the natural presumption is that, but for the proviso, the enacting part of the section would have included the subject-matter of the proviso.
(b)A proviso must be construed with reference to the preceding parts of the clause to which it is appended.
(c)Where the proviso is directly repugnant to a section, the proviso shall stand and be held a repeal of the section as the proviso speaks the latter intention of the makers.
(d)Where the section is doubtful, a proviso may be used as a guide to its interpretation: but when it is clear, a proviso cannot imply the existence of words of which there is no trace in the section.
(e)The proviso is subordinate to the main section.
(f)A proviso does not enlarge an enactment except for compelling reasons.
(g)Sometimes an unnecessary proviso is inserted by way of abundant caution.
(h)A construction placed upon a proviso which brings it into general harmony with the terms of section should prevail.
(i)When a proviso is repugnant to the enacting part, the proviso will not prevail over the absolute terms of a later Act directed to be read as supplemental to the earlier one.
(j)A proviso may sometimes contain a substantive provision.
In Ishverlal Thakorelal Almaula v. Motibhai Nagjibhai it was held that the main object of a proviso is merely to qualify the main enactment.
372 proviso and 378 (3) overlap as to requirement of obtaining leave by the high court :- Supreme Court of India
Satya Pal Singh vs State Of M.P. And Ors on 6 October, 2015
while dealing with the question, which read thus:
"...the substantive provision of Section 372 of Cr.P.C. clearly provides that no appeal shall lie from any judgment and order of a Criminal Court except as provided for by Cr.P.C. Further, sub-Section (3) to Section 378 of Cr.P.C. provides that for preferring an appeal to the High Court against an order of acquittal it is necessary to obtain its leave. We have to refer to the rules of interpretation of statutes to find out what is the effect of the proviso to Section 372 of Cr.P.C., it is well established that the proviso of a statute must be given an interpretation limited to the subject-matter of the enacting provision. Reliance is placed on the decision of this Court rendered by four Judge Bench in Dwarka Prasad v. Dwarka Das Saraf, (1976) 1 SCC 128, the relevant para 18 of which reads thus:
"18. ... A proviso must be limited to the subject-matter of the enacting clause. It is a settled rule of construction that a proviso must prima facie be read and considered in relation to the principal matter to which it is a proviso. It is not a separate or independent enactment. "Words are dependent on the principal enacting words to which they are tacked as a proviso. They cannot be read as divorced from their context" (Thompson v. Dibdin, 1912 AC 533). If the rule of construction is that prima facie a proviso should be limited in its operation to the subject-matter of the enacting clause, the stand we have taken is sound. To expand the enacting clause, inflated by the proviso, sins against the fundamental rule of construction that a proviso must be considered in relation to the principal matter to which it stands as a proviso. A proviso ordinarily is but a proviso, although the golden rule is to read the whole section, inclusive of the proviso, in such manner that they mutually throw light on each other and result in a harmonious construction." Thus, from a reading of the above said legal position laid down by this Court in the cases referred to supra, it is abundantly clear that the proviso to section 372 of Cr.P.C. must be read alongwith its main enactment i.e., section 372 itself and together with sub-section (3) to section 378 of Cr.P.C. otherwise the substantive provision of section 372 of Cr.P.C. will be rendered nugatory, as it clearly states that no appeal shall lie from any judgment or order of a Criminal Court except as provided by Cr.P.C." Thus, to conclude on the legal issue:
"whether the appellant herein, being the father of the deceased, has statutory right to prefer an appeal to the High Court against the order of acquittal under proviso to Section 372 of Cr.P.C. without obtaining the leave of the High Court as required under sub-Section (3) to Section 378 of Cr.P.C.?,
Supreme Court is of the view that the right of questioning the correctness of the judgment and order of acquittal by preferring an appeal to the High Court is conferred upon the victim including the legal heir and others, as defined under Section 2(wa) of Cr.P.C., under proviso to Section 372, but only after obtaining the leave of the High Court as required under sub-Section (3) to Section 378 of Cr.P.C appeal against inadequacy of sentence :- Supreme Court of India
Assistant Collector Of Central ... vs V. Krishnamoorthy & Ors on 20 February, 1997
As is evident and crystal clear it is the Public Prosecutor who under the directions of the Central Government is obliged to present an appeal to the High Court against the sentence on the ground of its inadequacy. Such power does not vest with the complainant. Here the appeals have been preferred by the complainant though the counsel engaged by the complainant happens to be the Central Government Public Prosecutor. Plainly a fiduciary relationship of client counsel appears to have been established. No such situation is permissible under Section 377 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The reason obvious because the law presumes that it is the Central Government, who through its Public Prosdecutor can voice grievance before the High Court in relation to the inadequacy of sentence. The complainant has full say only in an appeal against acquittal under Section 378 (4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure but has no locus standi to move under Section 377 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Appeal against acquittal :- A person has, no doubt, a profound right not to be convicted of an offence which is not established by the evidential standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt. Though this standard is a higher standard, there is, however, no absolute standard. What degree of probability amounts to "proof" is an exercise particular to each case. Referring to the interdependence of evidence and the confirmation of one piece of evidence by another, a learned author says [see "The Mathematics of Proof II": Glanville Williams, Criminal Law Review, 1979, by Sweet and Maxwell, p.340 (342)]:
"The simple multiplication rule does not apply if the separate pieces of evidence are dependent. Two events are dependent when they tend to occur together, and the evidence of such events may also be said to be dependent. In a criminal case, different pieces of evidence directed to establishing that the defendant did the prohibited act with the specified state of mind are generally dependent. A juror may feel doubt whether to credit an alleged confession, and doubt whether to infer guilt from the fact that the defendant fled from justice. But since it is generally guilty rather than innocent people who make confessions, and guilty rather than innocent people who run away, the two doubts are not to be multiplied together. The one piece of evidence may confirm the other.” Doubts would be called reasonable if they are free from a zest for abstract speculation. Law cannot afford any favourite other than truth. To constitute reasonable doubt, it must be free from an over- emotional response. Doubts must be actual and substantial doubts as to the guilt of the accused person arising from the evidence, or from the lack of it, as opposed to mere vague apprehensions. A reasonable doubt is not an imaginary, trivial or a merely possible doubt; but a fair doubt based upon reason and common sense. It must grow out of the evidence in the case.
But , per contra it has to be remembered that there is a necessary social perspective in criminal cases which suffers from insufficient forensic appreciation. The dangers of exaggerated devotion to the rule of benefit of doubt at the expense of social defence and to the soothing sentiment that all acquittals are always good regardless of justice to the victim and the community, demand especial emphasis in the contemporary context of escalating crime and escape. The judicial instrument has a public accountability. The cherished principles or golden thread of proof beyond reasonable doubt which runs through the web of our law should not be stretched morbidly to embrace every hunch, hesitancy and degree of doubt. The excessive solicitude reflected in the attitude that a thousand guilty men may go but one innocent martyr shall not suffer is a false dilemma. Only reasonable doubts belong to the accused. Otherwise any practical system of justice will then breakdown and lose credibility with the community. The evil of acquitting a guilty person light-heartedly, as a learned author (Glanville Williams in Proof of Guilt) has saliently observed, goes much beyond the simple fact that just one guilty person has gone unpunished. If unmerited acquittals become general, they tend to lead to a cynical disregard of the law, and this in turn leads to a public demand for harsher legal presumptions against indicted `persons' and more severe punishment of those who are found guilty. Thus, too frequent acquittals of the guilty may lead to a ferocious penal law, eventually eroding the judicial protection of the guiltless. For all these reasons it is true to say, with Viscount Simon, that `a miscarriage of justice may arise from the acquittal of the guilty no less than from the conviction of the innocent....' In short, our jurisprudential enthusiasm for presumed innocence must be moderated by the pragmatic need to make criminal justice potent and realistic. A balance has to be struck between chasing chance possibilities as good enough to set the delinquent free and chopping the logic of preponderant probability to punish marginal innocents. Section 378 Allahabad High Court
Mast Ram Tiwari vs State Of U.P. & 3 Others on 19 January, 2018 From the scheme of the provisions of Section 378, it is clear that two streams of appeals against acquittals are provided. The first stream of appeals is against the order of acquittals to be preferred by the State Government/Central Government and the same would be under sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 378 and before such an appeal is entertained, a leave of the High Court requires to be taken, as provided for under sub-section (3) of Section 378. The other stream of appeals is against the order acquittals in the complaint case, wherein, by virtue of Section 378 (4), the complainant has to seek special leave to appeal from the High Court under sub-section (5). Further, the application for grant of special leave to appeal must be filed if the complainant is a public servant within 6 months from the date of order of acquittal and in all other cases, within 60 days from the date of order of acquittal. For the first stream of appeals under sub-sections (1) and (2) read with sub-section (3) of Section 378, no limitation is provided under Section 378 or any other Section of CrPC and, hence, the period of limitation for filing the appeal under Section 378(1) and (2) of CrPC is 90 days from the date of the order appealed from, as provided for in Article 114(a) of the Limitation Act. if there is a delay in filing an appeal by the State Government or the Central Government, it would be open to them to file an application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act for condonation of such delay. Thus, that period can be extended if the Court is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal within a period of 90 days. Here are a few case laws for reference over the law of appeal:- Rama And Ors vs State Of Rajasthan on 5 April, 2002
It is well settled that in a criminal appeal, a duty is enjoined upon the appellate court to reappraise the evidence itself and it cannot proceed to dispose of the appeal upon appraisal of evidence by the trial court alone especially when the appeal has been already admitted and placed for final hearing. Upholding such a procedure would amount to negation of valuable right of appeal of an accused which cannot be permitted under law.
State Of Haryana vs Inder Singh And Ors. on 29 January, 2002
if two views are possible, one which is favourable to the accused has to be accepted. Sanwat Singh & Others vs State Of Rajasthan on 9 December, 1960
Equivalent citations: 1961 AIR 715 (1) an appellate court has full power to review the evidence upon which the order of acquittal is founded; (2) the principles laid down in Sheo Swarup's case afford a correct guide for the appellate court's approach to a case in disposing of such an appeal; and (3) the different phraseology used in the judgments of this Court, such as,
(i) "substantial and compelling reasons", (ii) "good and sufficiently cogent reasons", and (iii) "strong reasons" are not intended to curtail the undoubted power of an appellate court in an appeal against acquittal to review the entire evidence and to come to its own conclusion; but in doing so it should not only consider every matter on record having a bearing on the questions of fact and the reasons given by the court below in support of its order of acquittal in its arriving at a conclusion on those facts, but should also express those reasons in its judgment, which lead it to hold that the acquittal was not justified.
In Balbir Singh v. State of Punjab :-
"It is now well settled that though the High Court has full power to review the evidence upon which an order of acquittal is founded, it is equally well settled that the presumption of innocence of the accused person is further reinforced by his acquittal by the trial Court and the views of the trial Judge as to the credibility of the witnesses must be given proper weight and consideration; and the slowness of an appellate Court in disturbing a finding of fact arrived at by a Judge who had the advantage of seeing the witnesses must also be kept in mind and there must be substantial and compelling reasons for the appellate Court to come to a conclusion different from that of the trial Judge." in Ajmer Singh v. State of Punjab (1953 SCR 418), it was observed that the interference of the High Court in an appeal against the order of acquittal would be justified only if there are `very substantial and compelling reasons to do so'. In some other decisions, it has been stated that an order of acquittal can be reversed only for `good and sufficiently cogent reasons' or for `strong reasons'. in Shivaji Sahabrao Bobade v. State of Maharashtra (1973 (2) SCC 793) this Court held that in India, there is no jurisdictional limitation on the powers of appellate court. "In law there are no fetters on the plenary power of the appellate court to review the whole evidence on which the order of acquittal is founded and, indeed, it has a duty to scrutinise the probative material de novo, informed, however, by the weighty thought that the rebuttable innocence attributed to the accused having been converted into an acquittal the homage our jurisprudence owes to individual liberty constrains the higher court not to upset the holding without very convincing reasons and comprehensive consideration."
In Aher Raja Khima v. State of Saurashtra (1955) 2 SCR 1285) the accused was prosecuted under Sections 302 and 447 IPC. He was acquitted by the trial court but convicted by the High Court. Dealing with the power of the High Court against an order of acquittal, Bose, J. speaking for the majority (2:1) stated: (AIR p. 220, para 1) "It is, in our opinion, well settled that it is not enough for the High Court to take a different view of the evidence; there must also be substantial and compelling reasons for holding that the trial court was wrong." in M.G. Agarwal v. State of Maharashtra (1963) 2 SCR 405, the point was raised before a Constitution Bench of this Court. Taking note of earlier decisions, it was observed as follows:
"17. In some of the earlier decisions of this Court, however, in emphasising the importance of adopting a cautious approach in dealing with appeals against acquittals, it was observed that the presumption of innocence is reinforced by the order of acquittal and so, `the findings of the trial court which had the advantage of seeing the witnesses and hearing their evidence can be reversed only for very substantial and compelling reasons': In Ramesh Babulal Doshi v. State of Gujarat (1996) 9 SCC 225, this Court said:
"While sitting in judgment over an acquittal the appellate court is first required to seek an answer to the question whether the findings of the trial court are palpably wrong, manifestly erroneous or demonstrably unsustainable. If the appellate court answers the above question in the negative the order of acquittal is not to be disturbed. Conversely, if the appellate court holds, for reasons to be recorded, that the order of acquittal cannot at all be sustained in view of any of the above infirmities it can then-and then only-reappraise the evidence to arrive at its own conclusions. In the case of Narinder Singh v. State of Punjab 2000 Crl. LJ 3462 (SC), this Court has held that the High Court is entitled to re- appreciate the evidence if it is found that the view taken by the acquitting Court was not a possible view or that it was a perverse or infirm or palpably erroneous view or the Trial Court taken into consideration inconsequential circumstances or has acted with material irregularity or has rejected the evidence of eye-witnesses on wrong assumptions.
In Allarakha K. Mansuri v. State of Gujarat (2002) 3 SCC 57, referring to earlier decisions, the Court stated:
"7. The paramount consideration of the court should be to avoid miscarriage of justice. A miscarriage of justice which may arise from the acquittal of guilty is no less than from the conviction of an innocent. In a case where the trial court has taken a view based upon conjectures and hypothesis and not on the legal evidence, a duty is cast upon the High Court to reappreciate the evidence in acquittal appeal for the purposes of ascertaining as to whether the accused has committed any offence or not. Probable view taken by the trial court which may not be disturbed in the appeal is such a view which is based upon legal and admissible evidence. Only because the accused has been acquitted by the trial court, cannot be made a basis to urge that the High Court under all circumstances should not disturb such a finding." Awadhesh & Anr. v. State of Madhya Pradesh [AIR 1988 SC 1158] reiterating the principles required to be kept in view while deciding an appeal against an order of acquittal. There cannot be any dispute about the said principles. Mere fact that a view other than the one taken by the trial court can be legitimately arrived at by the appellate court on reappraisal of the evidence cannot constitute a valid and sufficient ground to interfere with an order of acquittal unless the appellate court comes to the conclusion that the entire approach of the trial court in dealing with the evidence was patently illegal or the conclusions arrived at by it were wholly untenable. In Harijana Thirupala v. Public Prosecutor, High Court of A.P. (2002) 6 SCC 470, this Court said:
"12. Doubtless the High Court in appeal either against an order of acquittal or conviction as a court of first appeal has full power to review the evidence to reach its own independent conclusion. However, it will not interfere with an order of acquittal lightly or merely because one other view is possible, because with the passing of an order of acquittal presumption of innocence in favour of the accused gets reinforced and strengthened. The High Court would not be justified to interfere with order of acquittal merely because it feels that sitting as a trial court it would have proceeded to record a conviction; a duty is cast on the High Court while reversing an order of acquittal to examine and discuss the reasons given by the trial court to acquit the accused and then to dispel those reasons. If the High Court fails to make such an exercise the judgment will suffer from serious infirmity." . In Ramanand Yadav v. Prabhu Nath Jha (2003) 12 SCC 606, this Court observed:
"21. There is no embargo on the appellate court reviewing the evidence upon which an order of acquittal is based. Generally, the order of acquittal shall not be interfered with because the presumption of innocence of the accused is further strengthened by acquittal. The golden thread which runs through the web of administration of justice in criminal cases is that if two views are possible on the evidence adduced in the case, one pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to his innocence, the view which is favourable to the accused should be adopted. The paramount consideration of the court is to ensure that miscarriage of justice is prevented. A miscarriage of justice which may arise from acquittal of the guilty is no less than from the conviction of an innocent. In a case where admissible evidence is ignored, a duty is cast upon the appellate court to reappreciate the evidence in a case where the accused has been acquitted, for the purpose of ascertaining as to whether any of the accused committed any offence or not". Again in Kallu v. State of M.P. (2006) 10 SCC 313, this Court stated: "8. While deciding an appeal against acquittal, the power of the appellate court is no less than the power exercised while hearing appeals against conviction. In both types of appeals, the power exists to review the entire evidence. However, one significant difference is that an order of acquittal will not be interfered with, by an appellate court, where the judgment of the trial court is based on evidence and the view taken is reasonable and plausible. It will not reverse the decision of the trial court merely because a different view is possible. The appellate court will also bear in mind that there is a presumption of innocence in favour of the accused and the accused is entitled to get the benefit of any doubt. Further if it decides to interfere, it should assign reasons for differing with the decision of the trial court." in Chandrappa and Ors. v. State of Karnataka (2007 (4) SCC 415), the following general principles regarding powers of the appellate court while dealing with an appeal against an order of acquittal were culled out:
(1) An appellate court has full power to review, reappreciate and reconsider the evidence upon which the order of acquittal is founded.
(2) The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 puts no limitation, restriction or condition on exercise of such power and an appellate court on the evidence before it may reach its own conclusion, both on questions of fact and of law.
(3) Various expressions, such as, "substantial and compelling reasons", "good and sufficient grounds", "very strong circumstances", "distorted conclusions", "glaring mistakes", etc. are not intended to curtail extensive powers of an appellate court in an appeal against acquittal. Such phraseologies are more in the nature of "flourishes of language" to emphasise the reluctance of an appellate court to interfere with acquittal than to curtail the power of the court to review the evidence and to come to its own conclusion.
(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.
(5) If two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence on record, the appellate court should not disturb the finding of acquittal recorded by the trial court.. Ganesh K. Gulve Etc vs State Of Maharashtra on 21 August, 2002
In order to appreciate the evidence, the Court is required to bear in mind the set up and environment in which the crime is committed. The level of understanding of the witnesses. The over jealousness of some of near relations to ensure that everyone even remotely connected with the crime be also convicted. Everyone's different way of narration of same facts. These are only illustrative instances. Bearing in mind these broad principles, the evidence is required to be appreciated to find out what part out of the evidence represents the true and correct state of affairs. It is for the courts to separate the grain from the chaff. in Suman Sood v. State of Rajasthan, where this Court reiterated with approval the principles stated by the Court in earlier cases, particularly, Chandrappa v. State of Karnataka. Emphasising that expressions like "substantial and compelling reasons", "good and sufficient grounds", "very strong circumstances", "distorted conclusions", "glaring mistakes", etc. are not intended to curtail the extensive powers of an appellate court in an appeal against acquittal, the Court stated that such phraseologies are more in the nature of "flourishes of language" to emphasise the reluctance of an appellate court to interfere with the acquittal. Thus, where it is possible to take only one view i.e. the prosecution evidence points to the guilt of the accused and the judgment is on the face of it perverse, then the Court may interfere with an order of acquittal." In the case of State of Rajasthan v. Shera Ram alias Vishnu Dutta [(2012) 1 SCC 602], a Bench of this Court, was a member, took the view that there may be no grave distinction between an appeal against acquittal and an appeal against conviction but the Court has to keep in mind the value of the presumption of innocence in favour of the accused duly endorsed by order of the Court, while the Court exercises its appellate jurisdiction. In this very case, the Court also examined various judgments of this Court dealing with the principles which may guide the exercise of jurisdiction by the Appellate Court in an appeal against a judgment of acquittal. We may usefully refer to the following paragraphs of that judgment:
"8. The penal laws in India are primarily based upon certain fundamental procedural values, which are right to fair trial and presumption of innocence. A person is presumed to be innocent till proven guilty and once held to be not guilty of a criminal charge, he enjoys the benefit of such presumption which could be interfered with only for valid and proper reasons. An appeal against acquittal has always been differentiated from a normal appeal against conviction. Wherever there is perversity of facts and/or law appearing in the judgment, the appellate court would be within its jurisdiction to interfere with the judgment of acquittal, but otherwise such interference is not called for. Supreme Court of India
Govindaraju @ Govinda vs State By Sriramapuram P.S. & Anr on 15 March, 2012
When an accused is acquitted of a criminal charge, a right vests in him to be a free citizen and this Court is very cautious in taking away that right. The presumption of innocence of the accused is further strengthened by the fact of acquittal of the accused under our criminal jurisprudence. The courts have held that if two views are possible on the evidence adduced in the case, then the one favourable to the accused, may be adopted by the court. However, this principle must be applied keeping in view the facts and circumstances of a case and the thumb rule is that whether the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. If the prosecution has succeeded in discharging its onus, and the error in appreciation of evidence is apparent on the face of the record then the court can interfere in the judgment of acquittal to ensure that the ends of justice are met. This is the linchpin around which the administration of criminal justice revolves. Rules regarding appreciation of evidence, the Court has to keep in mind certain significant principles of law under the Indian Criminal Jurisprudence, i.e. right to fair trial and presumption of innocence, which are the twin essentials of administration of criminal justice. A person is presumed to be innocent till proven guilty and once held to be not guilty of a criminal charge, he enjoys the benefits of such presumption which could be interfered with by the courts only for compelling reasons and not merely because another view was possible on appreciation of evidence. The element of perversity should be traceable in the findings recorded by the Court, either of law or of appreciation of evidence. The Legislature in its wisdom, unlike an appeal by an accused in the case of conviction, introduced the concept of leave to appeal in terms of Section 378 Cr.P.C. This is an indication that appeal from acquittal is placed at a somewhat different footing than a normal appeal. But once leave is granted, then there is hardly any difference between a normal appeal and an appeal against acquittal. The concept of leave to appeal under Section 378 Cr.P.C. has been introduced as an additional stage between the order of acquittal and consideration of the judgment by the appellate Court on merits as in the case of a regular appeal. Sub-section (3) of Section 378 clearly provides that no appeal to the High Court under sub-sections (1) or (2) shall be entertained except with the leave of the High Court. This legislative intent of attaching a definite value to the judgment of acquittal cannot be ignored by the Courts. Under the scheme of the Cr.P.C., acquittal confers rights on an accused that of a free citizen. A benefit that has accrued to an accused by the judgment of acquittal can be taken away and he can be convicted on appeal, only when the judgment of the trial court is perverse on facts or law. Upon examination of the evidence before it, the Appellate Court should be fully convinced that the findings returned by the trial court are really erroneous and contrary to the settled principles of criminal law. Supreme Court of India
State Through Spe & Cbi, Ap vs M. Krishna Mohan & Anr on 12 October, 2007 It is, however, a trite law that an appellate court, while entertaining an appeal from a judgment of acquittal, would also be entitled to consider the evidences brought on record by both the prosecution and the defence and arrive at its own decision. Interference with a judgment of acquittal may not be made when two views are possible to be taken, but when on appraisal thereof, only one view is possible, the appellate court would not hesitate to interfere with the judgment of acquittal. Hearing the appeal against acquittal in absence of counsel :- Netraj Singh v. state of Madhya Pradesh AIR 2008 SC 14 Appeal against acquittal was heard in absence of the counsel . And non appearance of counsel was due to mistake of date in the cause list. Supreme Court set aside order of reversing acquittal and matter was again remitted to High Court for fresh consideration. Refusal to grant leave should be based on reasons :
S. Gopal Reddy v. State of A.P. (1996 (4) SCC 596).
The High Court is not justified in summarily rejecting the application for grant of leave. It has a duty to indicate reasons when it refuses to grant leave. Any casual or summary disposal would not be proper. Benefit of appeal can be extended to a non appellant accused :- In the case of Raja Ram v. State of Madhya Pradesh [(1994) 2 SCC 568], this Court extended the benefit of conversion of sentence to all the accused, from that under Section 302 IPC to one under Section 304 IPC, including the non-appealing accused. The Court held that in its opinion, the case of the non-appealing accused was not really distinguisbable from other accused persons and it was appropriate that benefit of the judgment should also be extended to the non-appealing accused, Ram Sahai, in that case. Again, in the case of Bijoy Singh v. State of Bihar [(2002) 9 SCC 147], Supreme Court clearly stated the principle that it has set up a judicial precedent that where on evaluation of the case, the Court reaches the conclusion that no conviction of any accused is possible the benefit of that decision must be extended to the co-accused, similarly situated, though he has not challenged the order by way of an appeal. Supreme Court of India
Sahadevan & Anr vs State Of T.Nadu on 8 May, 2012 It will always depend upon the facts and circumstances of a given case. Where the Court finds that the prosecution evidence suffers from serious contradictions, is unreliable, is ex facie neither cogent nor true and the prosecution has failed to discharge the established onus of proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, the Court will be well within its jurisdiction to return the finding of acquittal and even suo moto extend the benefit to a non-appealing accused as well, more so, where the Court even disbelieves the very occurrence of the crime itself. Of course, the role attributed to each of the accused and other attendant circumstances would be relevant considerations for the Court to apply its discretion judiciously. There can be varied reasons for a non-appealing accused in not approaching the appellate Court. If, for compelling and inevitable reasons, like lack of finances, absence of any person to pursue his remedy and lack of proper assistance in the jail, an accused is unable to file appeal, then it would amount to denial of access to justice to such accused. The concept of fair trial would take within its ambit the right to be heard by the appellate Court. It is hardly possible to believe that an accused would, out of choice, give up his right to appeal, especially in a crime where a sentence of imprisonment for life is prescribed and awarded. Fairness in the administration of justice system and access to justice would be the relevant considerations for this Court to examine whether a non-appealing accused could or could not be extended the benefit of the judgment of acquittal. The access to justice is an essential feature of administration of justice. This is applicable with enhanced rigour to the criminal jurisprudence. 394 Harnam Singh Vs. The State of Himachal Pradesh,
(1975) 3 SCC 343. In the above case, the accused was convicted under Sections 5(1)(d) and 5(2) of
Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 as well as under Section 161 Indian Penal Code and he was sentenced for rigorous imprisonment of two years and to a fine
of Rs.300. Contention was raised before this Court that since the deceased was not sentenced to pay a fine only but was punished with a composite sentence of imprisonment and fine, the appeal would abate as regards the sentence of fine also.Rejecting such submission, this Court laid
down that if by the judgment under appeal a sentence of fine is imposed either singularly or in
conjunction with a sentence of imprisonment, the appeal against conviction would be an appeal from a sentence of fine. (view reiterated in CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 77 of 2020 RAMESAN (DEAD)
THROUGH LR. GIRIJA v. THE STATE OF KERALA) Application to continue the appeal has to be made in 30 days from the death of the appellant . Long unreasonable delay of many years without any sufficient cause or a reasonable explanation will be rejected by the court. (S.V. Kameshwar Rao v. State (ACB police , karnool district A.P 1992 CrLJ 118 AP) Apellate court should bear in mind that , trial court has advantage to look at demeanour of witness so appellate court show be slow to disturb fining where finding hinges on oral testimony :- Coghlan v. Cumberland (1) which set out the limitations of the rule :- " even where the appeal turns on a question of fact, the Court of appeal has to bear in mind that its duty is to rehear the case, and the Court must reconsider the materials before the Judge with such other materials as it may have decided to admit. The Court must then make up its own mind, not disregarding the judgment appealed from, but carefully weighing and considering it; and not shrinking from overruling it if on full consideration the Court comes to the conclusion that the judgment is wrong. When, as often happens, much turns on the relative credibility of witnesses who have been examined and cross-examined before the Judge, the Court is sensible of the great advantage he has had in seeing and hearing them. It is often very difficult' to estimate correctly the relative credibility of witnesses from written depositions and when the question arises which witness is to be believed rather than another; and that question turns on manner and demeanour, the Court of Appeal always is, and must be, guided by the impression made on the Judge who saw the witnesses. But there may obviously be other circumstances, quite apart from manner and demeanour, Which may shew whether a statement is credible or notand these circumstances may warrant the Courtin differing from the Judge, even on a question offact turning on the credibility of witnesses whom the Court has not seen." Almost the same view was expressed by Lord Thankerton in Watt (or Thomas) v. Thomas(1947) I All E.R. 582. 587 :-
" I. Where a question of the fact has been tried by a Judge without a jury and there is no question if misdirection of himself by the Judge, an appellate .
court which is disposed to come to a different conclusion on the printed evidence should not do so unless it is satisfied that any advantage enjoyed by the Trial Judge by reason of having seen and heard the witnesses could not be sufficient to explain or justify the trial judge's conclusions. II. The-appellate Court may take the view that, without having seen or heard the witnesses, it is not in a position to come to any satisfactory conclusion on the printed evidence. III. The appellate Court, either because the reasons given by the Trial Judge are not satisfactory, or because it unmistakably so appears from the evidence, may be satisfied that he has not taken proper advantage of his having seen and heard the witnesses, and the matter will then become at large for the appellate court. It is obvious that the value and importance of having seen and heard the witnesses will vary according to the class of case, and, it may be, the individiual case in question." Supreme Court of India Radha Prasad Singh vs Gajadhar Singh & Others on 7 September, 1959
In such cases, the appellate court has got to bear in mind that it has not the advantage which the trial Judge had in having the witnesses before him and observing the manner in which they deposed in Court. This certainly does not mean that when an appeal lies on facts, the appellate court is not competent to reverse a finding of fact arrived at by the trial judge. The rule is-and it is nothing more than a rule of practice-that when there is conflict of oral evidence of the parties on any matter in issue and the decision hinges upon the credibility of the witnesses, then unless there is some special feature about the evidence of a particular witness which has escaped the trial judge's notice or there is a sufficient balance of improbability to displace his opinion as to where the credibility lies, the appellate court should not interfere with the finding of the trial Judge on a question of fact." The position in law, in our opinion, is that when an appeal lies on facts it is the right and the duty of the Appeal Court to consider what its decision on the question of facts should be; but in coming to its own decision it should bear in mind that it is looking at the printed record and has not the opportunity of seeing the witnesses and that it should not lightly reject the Trial Judge's conclusion that the evidence of a particular witness should be believed or should not be believed particularly when such conclusion is based on the observation of the demeanour of the witness in Court. But, this does not mean that merely because an appeal court has not heard or seen the witness it will in no case reverse the findings of a Trial Judge even on the question of credibility, if such question depends on a fair consideration of matters on record. When it appears to the Appeal Court that important considerations bearing on the question of credibility have not been taken into account or properly weighed by the Trial Judge and such considerations including the question of probability of the story given by the witnesses clearly indicate that the view taken by the Trial Judge is wrong, the Appeal Court should have no hesitation in reversing the findings of the Trial Judge on such questions. Where the question is not of credibility based entirely on the demeanour of witnesses observed in Court but a question of inference of one fact from proved primary facts the Court of Appeal is in as good a position as the Trial Judge and is free to reverse the findings if it thinks that the inference made by the Trial Judge is not justified.