Benefit of acquittal of one accused is extendable to co-accused if the allegations are inseparable in nature

Karnataka High Court: While deciding a writ petition filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, a Single Judge Bench comprising of K.N. Phaneendra, J. quashed the criminal proceedings pending against the petitioner, giving him the benefit of the acquittal of other accused persons.

The petitioner along with other accused was charged under Sections 143, 341, 506, 326, 307, 120B read with 149 IPC. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the allegations against the other accused persons who were acquitted and the petitioner were one and the same. They were inter-twined with each other and there were no distinct and separate allegations against the petitioner so as to try him separately. He prayed that the benefit of acquittal of other accused persons should be extended to the petitioner.

The High Court referred to a few Supreme Court decisions to discuss the question whether such benefit as prayed for by the petitioner could be extended to him. The Court also perused the record to find that the allegations against the petitioner and other accused persons who were acquitted were one and the same and were inseparable in nature. The Court was of the opinion that in such a case, the benefit of acquittal of other accused persons could be extended to the petitioner as well; no purpose would be served even if the petitioner was tried before the Trial Court and it would be a futile exercise. Accordingly, the petition was allowed and the proceedings pending against the petitioner were quashed. [Hassan v. State of Karnataka, WP No. 55102 of 2017 (GM-RES), order dated December 14, 2017]

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