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misc notes

Supreme Court of India

Mahabir Singh vs State Of Haryana on 26 July, 2001

Section 157 of the Evidence Act permits the court to use any former statement made by a witness before any person relating to a fact if it was made at or about the time when the fact took place. The interval between the occurrence and the time of PW-1s reporting to his father, did not cross the boundaries envisaged by the words at or about the time when the fact took place in Section 157 of the Evidence Act. It is useful to refer to the decision of this Court in State of Tamil Nadu vs. Suresh and anr. {1998 (2) SCC 372}. Following passage in that decision will be apposite:

We think that the expression at or about the time when the fact took place in Section 157 of the Evidence Act should be understood in the context according to the facts and circumstance of each case. The mere fact that there was an intervening period of a few days, in a given case, may not be sufficient to exclude the statement from the use envisaged in Section 157 of the Act. The test to be adopted, therefore, is this: Did the witness have the opportunity to concoct or to have been tutored? In this context the observation of Vivian Bose, J. in Rameshwar v. State of Rajasthan is apposite:

There can be no hard and fast rule about the at or about condition in Section 157. The main test is whether the statement was made as early as can reasonably be expected in the circumstances of the case and before there was opportunity for tutoring or concoction.

Supreme Court of India

State Of Rajasthan vs Islam on 24 May, 2011

The golden thread which runs through the administration of justice in criminal cases is that if two views are possible, one pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to the 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 a conviction of an innocent.

The principle to be followed by appellate court considering an appeal against an order of acquittal is to interfere only when there are compelling and substantial reasons to do so.

Thus, in such cases, this Court would usually not interfere unless a. The finding is vitiated by some glaring infirmity in the appraisal of evidence. (State of U.P. Vs. Sahai, AIR 1981 SC 1442 at paras 19-21) b. The finding is perverse. (State of MP Vs. Bachhudas, (2007) 9 SCC 135 at para 10 and State of Punjab Vs. Parveen Kumar (2005) 9 SCC 769 at para 9) c. The order suffers from substantial errors of law and fact (Rajesh Kumar Vs. Dharamvir 1997(4) SCC 496 at para 5) d. The order is based on misconception of law or erroneous appreciation of evidence (State of UP Vs. Abdul 1997(10) SCC 135; State of UP Vs. Premi 2003(9) SCC 12 at para 15) e. High Court has adopted an erroneous approach resulting in miscarriage of justice (State of TN Vs. Suresh 1998(2) SCC 372 at paras 31 and 32; State of MP Vs. Paltan Mallah 2005(3) SCC 169 at para 8) f. Acquittal is based on irrelevant grounds (Arunachalam Vs. Sadhanatham 1979(2) SCC 297 at para 4 g. High Court has completely misdirected itself in reversing the order of conviction by the Trial Court (Gaurishanker Sharma Vs. State of UP, AIR 1990 SC 709) h. The judgment is tainted with serious legal infirmities (State of Maharashtra Vs. Pimple, AIR 1984 SC 63 at para

In reversing an acquittal, this Court keeps in mind that presumption of innocence in favour of the accused is fortified by an order of acquittal and if the view of the High Court is reasonable and founded on materials on record, this Court should not interfere.

However, if this Court is of the opinion that the acquittal is not based on a reasonable view, then it may review the entire material and there will be no limitation on this Court's jurisdiction under Article 136 to come to a just decision quashing the acquittal (See 1985(4) SCC 476 at para 45; 1996(7) SCC 471 at para 4)

Absence Of Motive In A Case Depending On Circumstantial Evidence Is A Factor That Weighs In Favour Of The Accused

Supreme Court of India

Anwar Ali vs The State Of Himachal Pradesh on 25 September, 2020

Bench: Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy, M.R. Shah

Now so far as the submission on behalf of the accused that in the present case the prosecution has failed to establish and prove the motive and therefore the accused deserves acquittal is concerned, it is true that the absence of proving the motive cannot be a ground to reject the prosecution case. It is also true and as held by this Court in the case of Suresh Chandra Bahri v. State of Bihar 1995 Supp (1) SCC 80 that if motive is proved that would supply a link in the chain of circumstantial evidence but the absence thereof cannot be a ground to reject the prosecution case. However, at the same time, as observed by this Court in the case of Babu (supra), absence of motive in a case depending on circumstantial evidence is a factor that weighs in favour of the accused. In paragraphs 25 and 26, it is observed and held as under:

“25. In State of U.P. v. Kishanpal (2008) 16 SCC 73, this Court examined the importance of motive in cases of circumstantial evidence and observed: (SCC pp. 87­88, paras 38­39) “38. … the motive is a thing which is primarily known to the accused themselves and it is not possible for the prosecution to explain what actually promoted or excited them to commit the particular crime.

The motive may be considered as a circumstance which is relevant for assessing the evidence but if the evidence is clear and unambiguous and the circumstances prove the guilt of the accused, the same is not weakened even if the motive is not a very strong one. It is also settled law that the motive loses all its importance in a case where direct evidence of eyewitnesses is available, because even if there may be a very strong motive for the accused persons to commit a particular crime, they cannot be convicted if the evidence of eyewitnesses is not convincing. In the same way, even if there may not be an apparent motive but if the evidence of the eyewitnesses is clear and reliable, the absence or inadequacy of motive cannot stand in the way of conviction.”

26. This Court has also held that the absence of motive in a case depending on circumstantial evidence is a factor that weighs in favour of the accused. (Vide Pannayar v. State of T.N (2009) 9 SCC

In Chandrappa v. State of Karnataka (2007) 4 SCC 415, this Court reiterated the legal position as under: (SCC p. 432, para 42) “(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.”

16. In Ghurey Lal v. State of U.P (2008) 10 SCC 450, this Court reiterated the said view, observing that the appellate court 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.

17. In State of Rajasthan v. Naresh (2009) 9 SCC 368, the Court again examined the earlier judgments of this Court and laid down that: (SCC p. 374, para 20) “20. … an order of acquittal should not be lightly interfered with even if the court believes that there is some evidence pointing out the finger towards the accused.”

18. In State of U.P. v. Banne (2009) 4 SCC 271, this Court gave certain illustrative circumstances in which the Court would be justified in interfering with a judgment of acquittal by the High Court. The circumstances include: (SCC p. 286, para 28) “(i) The High Court’s decision is based on totally erroneous view of law by ignoring the settled legal position;

(ii) The High Court’s conclusions are contrary to evidence and documents on record;

(iii) The entire approach of the High Court in dealing with the evidence was patently illegal leading to grave miscarriage of justice;

(iv) The High Court’s judgment is manifestly unjust and unreasonable based on erroneous law and facts on the record of the case;

(v) This Court must always give proper weight and consideration to the findings of the High Court;

(vi) This Court would be extremely reluctant in interfering with a case when both the Sessions Court and the High Court have recorded an order of acquittal.” A similar view has been reiterated by this Court in Dhanapal v. State (2009) 10 SCC 401.


Shamsher Singh Verma


State of Haryana

Dated;November 24, 2015.

Section 294 CrPC reads as under: -

“294. No formal proof of certain documents. – (1) Where any document is filed before any Court by the prosecution or the accused, the particulars of every such document shall be included in a list and the prosecution or the accused, as the case may be, or the pleader for the prosecution or the accused, if any, shall be called upon to admit or deny the genuineness of each such document.

(2) The list of documents shall be in such form as may be prescribed by the State Government.

(3) Where the genuineness of any document is not disputed, such document may be read in evidence in any inquiry, trial or other proceeding under this Code without proof of the signature of the person to whom it purports to be signed:

Provided that the Court may, in its discretion, require such signature to be proved.” The object of Section 294 CrPC is to accelerate pace of trial by avoiding the time being wasted by the parties in recording the unnecessary evidence. Where genuineness of any document is admitted, or its formal proof is dispensed with, the same may be read in evidence. Word “document” is defined in Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, as under: - “ ‘Document’ means any matter expressed or described upon any substance by means of letters, figures or marks, or by more than one of those means, intended to be used, or which may be used, for the purpose of recording that matter.

Illustration A writing is a document;

Words printed, lithographed or photographed are documents; A map or plan is a document;

An inscription on a metal plate or stone is a document; A caricature is a document.” In R.M. Malkani vs. State of Maharashtra[1], this Court has observed that tape recorded conversation is admissible provided first the conversation is relevant to the matters in issue; secondly, there is identification of the voice; and, thirdly, the accuracy of the tape recorded conversation is proved by eliminating the possibility of erasing the tape record.

In Ziyauddin Barhanuddin Bukhari vs. Brijmohan Ramdass Mehra and others[2], it was held by this Court that tape-records of speeches were “documents”, as defined by Section 3 of the Evidence Act, which stood on no different footing than photographs, and that they were admissible in evidence on satisfying the following conditions:

“(a) The voice of the person alleged to be speaking must be duly identified by the maker of the record or by others who know it.

(b) Accuracy of what was actually recorded had to be proved by the maker of the record and satisfactory evidence, direct or circumstantial, had to be there so as to rule out possibilities of tampering with the record.

(c) The subject-matter recorded had to be shown to be relevant according to rules of relevancy found in the Evidence Act.” In view of the definition of ‘document’ in Evidence Act, and the law laid down by this Court, as discussed above, we hold that the compact disc is also a document. It is not necessary for the court to obtain admission or denial on a document under sub-section (1) to Section 294 CrPC personally from the accused or complainant or the witness. The endorsement of admission or denial made by the counsel for defence, on the document filed by the prosecution or on the application/report with which same is filed, is sufficient compliance of Section 294 CrPC. Similarly on a document filed by the defence, endorsement of admission or denial by the public prosecutor is sufficient and defence will have to prove the document if not admitted by the prosecution. In case it is admitted, it need not be formally proved, and can be read in evidence. In a complaint case such an endorsement can be made by the counsel for the complainant in respect of document filed by the defence.

029. Miscellaneous Notes
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