Appeal against acquittal

Question

The trial court has acquitted the accused on the ground of insufficient evidence. He was charge-sheeted by the investigation officer. He managed to acquit because I could not attend the court on every date. The prosecution was reluctant to convict him because he is an influential person. Is there any possibility to alter the order of acquittal? Can I file an appeal against such acquittal?

Question asked on 28/11/2016

Answered by: Advocate Shivendra

Section 378 of the code of criminal procedure (CrPC) provides a right of appeal against acquittal. The State is responsible for filing the appeal because it plays the role of the prosecution in the criminal trial. After the amendment in section 378 CrPC, a victim also has the right to file such appeal.

However, being a prosecutor, it is prime responsible for the State Government to decide whether an appeal is to be filed. But, when the state does not move forward, you can file an appeal even without the prior permission of the State Government. You can prefer an appeal under section 378(4) of the CrPC.

In this situation, the appeal has great significance. You will have an opportunity to raise all the objections against the acquittal. The appellate court provides you with a chance to adduce all evidence for appreciation, which could not happen before the trial court.

In Chandrappa vs State of Karnataka AIR 2007 SC, it is held by the supreme court that the appellate court has vast power in appeal. It can reappreciate or reconsider all the evidence produced before the trial court.

Thus, it is the last opportunity for you to re-make your case before the appellate court. But you cannot raise a new fact, adduce new evidence or new material in the appeal. You can produce evidence which was ignored or illegally admitted by the trial court.

The appeal lies before the High Court if the judgment has passed by the sessions court. The limitation period for the appeal is 60 days from the date of pronouncement of judgment.

In another case, the appeal lies before the court of sessions. The limitation period for filing the appeal is 30 days. The High Court and the Court of Sessions has the same power in appeal. You should prefer the appeal within the limitation period; otherwise, you will have to explain the reason for delay.

The appellate court can reverse the order of the trial court if some impediments exist in the judgment, improper appreciation of evidence by the trial court or other vital legal flaws occurred in the judgment. If the appellate court finds that there is a possibility to form two opinions from the record of the case, then it shall not interfere in the judgment because the benefit of doubt goes to the accused.

The Supreme Court said in Lula Ram vs Bhupat Singh AIR 2009 SC that appellate court should not disturb the finding of acquittal if two reasonable conclusions are possible from the record of the case.

State of Goa vs Sanjai Thakaran AIR 2007 SC, the supreme court holds that the order of acquittal shall be altered when an appellate court found that some manifest illegality vitiates the approach of the trial court. When trial court conclusion would not be arrived at by any reasonable person, and the trial court gives the perverse decision.

You should file an appeal within the period of limitation. If there is some impediments or manifest in judgment then the appellate court may definitely reverse the judgment. 

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Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate, Lucknow

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