Case BriefsSupreme Court

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]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Clearing the air over the power of the Courts to order “retrial”, the Court said that though the word “retrial” is used under Section 386(b)(i) Cr.P.C., the powers conferred by this clause is to be exercised only in exceptional cases, where the appellate court is satisfied that the omission or irregularity has occasioned in failure of justice.

In the present the accused in a dowry death case had appealed against his conviction before the Patna High Court. The High Court, however, remitted the case to the Trial Court for retrial on account of certain lapses on the part of Investigating Officer/trial court. Disagreeing with the view of the High Court, the bench of Dipak Misra and R. Banumathi, JJ said that the High Court pointed out certain lapses; but has not stated as to how such alleged lapses has resulted in miscarriage of justice necessitating retrial. Certain lapses either in the investigation or in the ‘conduct of trial’ are not sufficient to direct retrial. The High Court being the First Appellate Court is duty bound to examine the evidence and arrive at an independent finding based on appraisal of such evidence and examine whether such lapses actually affect the prosecution case; or such lapses have actually resulted in failure of justice.

It was further explained that the circumstances that should exist for warranting a retrial must be such that where the trial was undertaken by the Court having no jurisdiction, or trial was vitiated by serious illegality or irregularity due to the misconception of nature of proceedings. An order for retrial may be passed in cases where the original trial has not been satisfactory for some particular reasons such as wrong admission or wrong rejection of evidences or the Court refused to hear certain witnesses who were supposed to be heard. [Ajay Kumar Ghoshal v. State of Bihar, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 74 decided on 31.01.2017]