Supreme Court: Stating that group rivalry is double edged sword, the Bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ held that when there are eyewitnesses including injured witness who fully support the prosecution case and prove the roles of different accused, prosecution case cannot be negated only on the ground that it was a case of group rivalry.

The Court was hearing the matter relating to death caused by members of the accused party as an outcome of their alleged rivalry with the complainant party, who had been attacking each other and several criminal cases had been registered against both the factions. It was contended by the accused party that there being long standing enmity between the accused and complainant party, the accused have been roped in and hence, the Andhra Pradesh High Court erred in reversing the acquittal order passed by the Trial Court.

Rejecting the said contention, the Court noticed that the post -mortem report of the deceased showed that the injuries could have been caused by axes, battle axes and knives”. The eyewitnesses, in their eyewitness account have stated that accused used axe, knives and sticks while attacking on deceased. Hence, it was noticed that there was no inconsistency with medical evidence and the ocular evidence.

The Court also took note of the ruling of the Court in State of U.P vs. Anil Singh, (1988)( Supp). SCC 686, where it was held that although when two views are reasonably possible, one indicating conviction and other acquittal, this Court will not interfere with the order of acquittal but Court shall never hesitate to interfere if the acquittal is perverse in the sense that no reasonable person would have come to that conclusion, or if the acquittal is manifestly illegal or grossly unjust. Applying the said principle to the case hand, the Court said that present is a case where the High Court exercised its appellate power under Section 386 Cr.P.C. In exercise of Appellate power under Section 386 Cr.P.C. the High Court has full power to reverse an order of acquittal and if the accused are found guilty they can be sentenced according to law. [Sudha Renukaiah v. State of A.P., 2017 SCC OnLine SC 403, decided on 13.04.2017]

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