SC on When Appellate Court can Interfere with the Finding of Trial Court


June 12, 2018

Case name: Jayaswamy v. State of Karnataka

Date of Judgment: June 01, 2018

In this recent case, the Supreme Court has re-affirmed the established principle of law that that the Appellate Court hearing the appeal filed against the judgment and order of acquittal will not overrule or otherwise disturb the Trial Court’s acquittal if the Appellate Court does not find substantial and compelling reasons for doing so.

In the case, the Appellant was convicted for the offence of murder. The Appellant in the case contended that the First appellate Court should not have interfered with the judgment of  acquittal of the accused when the   judgment   of   acquittal   by Trial Court was based on settled principles of law as well on due appreciation of evidence on record.

Bench’s Verdict

The Court in the case opined that it is by now well settled that the Appellate Court hearing the appeal filed against the judgment and order of acquittal will not overrule or otherwise disturb the Trial Court’s acquittal if the Appellate Court does not find substantial and compelling reasons for doing so.

When can First Appellate Court Interfere with Trial Court’s Order of Acquittal- That if the Trial Court’s conclusion with regard to the facts is palpably wrong; if Trial Court decision was based on erroneous view of law; if the Trial Court judgment is likely to result in grave miscarriage of justice; if the entire approach of the Trial Court in dealing with the evidence was patently illegal; if the Trial Court judgment was manifestly unjust and unreasonable; and if the Trial Court has ignored the evidence or misread the material evidence or has ignored the material documents like dying declaration/ report of the ballistic expert etc. the same may be construed as substantial and compelling reasons and the First appellate Court may interfere with the order of acquittal.

Thus, if the view taken by the Trial Court while acquitting the accused is one of the possible views under the facts and circumstances of the case, then the Appellate Court will generally not interfere with the order of acquittal.

If two views are possible then one pointing to the innocence of the accused shall be adopted– That generally the order of acquittal shall not be interfered with because the presumption of innocence of the accused in further strengthened by acquittal. The golden thread which runs through the web of administration of justice in criminal cases is that if two views are possible on the evidence adduced in the case, one pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to his innocence, the view which is favourable to the accused should be adopted[1].

The entire case can be accessed here.

[1] Ramanand Yadav vs. Prabhu Nath Jha And Ors., (2003) 12 SCC 606

About the Author

Shilpi Sharan

- Shilpi Sharan is the Editor at Vakilno1.com - an Advocate with extensive knowledge in myriad fields of Law. She has a flair of writing and has legal publications in national and international law magazines to her credit. She focuses on legal research and aims at raising public awareness of laws in India.