Appellate Court should not reverse judgment of acquittal merely because two views are possible

High Court of Himachal Pradesh: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Chander Bhusan Barowalia, CJ., decided a criminal appeal filed by the State against the order of acquittal of the accused-respondent passed by the trial court, wherein it was held that when two views are possible, appellate court should not reverse the judgment of acquittal merely because the other view was possible.

The respondent was the accused in a criminal case filed under Sections 325 and 504 IPC. He was acquitted by the trail court on appreciation of evidence and witness statements. Learned counsel for the appellant State contended that the trial court has not correctly appreciated the evidence, the prosecution has proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, and as such the order under challenge should be reversed.

The High Court perused the record and found that the evidence available was not sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt; the prosecution has failed in doing so. The High Court referred to a few Supreme Court judgments to discuss the law on the subject and observed that where two views are reasonably possible from the very same evidence, prosecution cannot be said to have proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. It also discussed the principles qua powers of the appellate courts while dealing with an appeal against an order of acquittal as culled out in Chandrappa v. State of Karnataka, (2007) 4 SCC 415.

Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed as the High Court did not find any fault with the order under challenge. [State of H.P. v. Chet Ram,  2018 SCC OnLine HP 78, order dated 10.01.2018]

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