Geeta Devi vs State of U.P.

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.78 OF 2022
Geeta Devi                ..Appellant(S)
Versus
State of U.P. & Ors.                     ..Respondent(S)
J U D G M E N T 
M. R. Shah, J.
1. Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
judgment and order dated 06.12.2019 passed by the High
Court   of   Judicature   at   Allahabad,   Lucknow   Bench   in
Criminal Appeal No. 2356 of 2019 by which the High Court
has dismissed the said appeal preferred by the victim of the
offence, which was filed against the judgment and order
dated   13.09.2019   passed   by   the   learned   Special   Court,
acquitting the respondent accused under Sections 354, 504,
506 of the IPC, Section 3(1)(x) and 3(1)(xi) of the Scheduled
Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities)
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Act, 1989, the victim – original appellant has preferred the
present appeal. 
     
2. That   the   learned   Special   Court/Trial   Court   convicted
respondent Nos.2 to 4 – accused for the offences punishable
under Sections 452, 323/34 and 325/34 of the Indian Penal
Code, however, acquitted them for the offences punishable
under Sections 354, 504, 506 of the IPC, Section 3(1)(x) and
3(1)(xi) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes
(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Feeling aggrieved and
dissatisfied   with   the   judgment   and   order   passed   by   the
learned Special Court acquitting the respondents – accused
for the aforesaid offences, the victim preferred an appeal
before the High Court by way of Criminal Appeal No.2356 of
2019 and by the impugned one page/paragraph judgment
and order, the High Court has dismissed the said appeal,
which is the subject matter of the present appeal before this
Court.  
3. We have heard Shri T.V. George, learned counsel appearing
on behalf of the appellant, Shri Adarsh Upadhyay, learned
counsel appearing on behalf of the State – Respondent No.1
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and   Shri   Shahid   Anwar,   learned   counsel   appearing   on
behalf of respondent Nos.2 to 4 – accused. 
4. Number  of submissions have  been  made by  the learned
counsel   appearing   on   behalf   of   the   respective   parties.
However, for the reasons stated hereinbelow we propose to
remand the matter to the High Court and hence we refrain
from   dealing   with   any   of   the   submissions   made   by   the
learned   counsel   appearing   on   behalf   of   the   respective
parties on merits as any observation made by this Court
may affect either the prosecution or the defence.
5. We have gone through the judgment and order passed by
the High Court dismissing the appeal preferred by the victim
– appellant. As already noted, the impugned judgment and
order   passed   by   the   High   Court   as   such   is   one
page/paragraph order. After observing in paragraph 3 that
“I   have   gone   through   the   judgment   of   the   learned   Trial
Court   carefully”   thereafter   without   further   elaborate   reappreciation of the entire evidence on record the High Court
has dismissed the appeal by observing in paragraph 4 as
under: ­ 
“4. Trial Court has considered the statement of P.W.­2
carefully   and   has   found   that   the   testimony   of   P.W.­2
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cannot be relied on for offence under Sections 354, 504,
506 IPC, 3(1)(x) and 3(1)(xi) S.C./S.T. Act. There is no
corroboration to the testimony of P.W.­2 when the trial
Court itself has found the testimony of P.W.2 doubtful.
There is no ground to interfere with the well considered
judgment of trial Court and, therefore, I find this appeal
without   merit   and   substance.   The   appeal   is   thus,
dismissed.”
6. We are constrained to observe that this is not the manner in
which the High Court should have dealt with the appeal
against an order of acquittal which as such is a first appeal
against  the  order  of  acquittal.  The  High   Court  has   only
made general observations on the deposition of the witness
examined. However, there is no re­appreciation of the entire
evidence in detail which exercise ought to have been made
by the High Court while dealing with the judgment and
order   of   acquittal.   The   High   Court   ought   to   have   reappreciated the entire evidence on record as it was dealing
with a first appeal. Being the first appellate court, the High
Court was required to re­appreciate the entire evidence on
record and also the reasoning given by the learned Trial
Court. How to deal with and decide an appeal in the case of
an acquittal passed by the learned Trial Court is dealt with
in   the   case   of  Umedbhai   Jadavbhai   Vs.   The   State   of
Gujarat (1978) 1 SCC 228. It was observed therein and held
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by this Court that once the appeal is entertained against the
order of acquittal, the High Court is entitled to re­appreciate
the   entire   evidence   independently   and   come   to   its   own
conclusion.   Ordinarily,   the   High   Court   would   give   due
importance to the opinion of the Sessions Judge if the same
were arrived at after a proper appreciation of the evidence.
Against an order of acquittal passed by the Trial Court the
High   Court   would   be   justified   on   re­appreciation   of   the
entire   evidence   independently   and   come   to   its   own
conclusion   that   acquittal   is   perverse   and   manifestly
erroneous.
6.1 How to deal with, decide and dispose of the criminal appeal
against   an   acquittal   under   Section   378   Cr.PC   has   been
elaborately dealt with by this Court and after considering
the earlier catena of decisions of this Court in the case of
Guru  Dutt  Pathak  Vs.  State  of  Uttar  Pradesh, (2021) 6
SCC 116, in paragraphs 15 to 20 it has been observed as
under: ­
15. In Babu v. State   of   Kerala [Babu v. State   of   Kerala,
(2010) 9 SCC 189, this Court has reiterated the principles
to   be   followed   in   an   appeal   against   acquittal   under
Section 378 CrPC. In paras 12 to 19, it is observed and
held as under: (SCC pp. 196­199)
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“12. This Court time and again has laid down
the  guidelines  for the  High Court   to interfere
with the judgment and order of acquittal passed
by the trial court. The appellate court should not
ordinarily set aside a judgment of acquittal in a
case where two views are possible, though the
view   of   the   appellate   court   may   be   the   more
probable one. While dealing with a judgment of
acquittal, the appellate court has to consider the
entire evidence on record, so as to arrive at a
finding as to whether the views of the trial court
were perverse or otherwise unsustainable. The
appellate court is entitled to consider whether in
arriving at a finding of fact, the trial court had
failed   to   take   into   consideration   admissible
evidence   and/or   had   taken   into  consideration
the evidence brought on record contrary to law.
Similarly, wrong placing of burden of proof may
also   be   a   subject­matter   of   scrutiny   by   the
appellate   court.   (Vide Balak   Ram v. State   of
U.P. [Balak Ram v. State of U.P., (1975) 3 SCC
219], Shambhoo   Missir v. State   of
Bihar [Shambhoo Missir v. State of Bihar, (1990)
4   SCC   17]   , Shailendra   Pratap v. State   of
U.P. [Shailendra Pratap v. State of U.P., (2003) 1
SCC   761],  Narendra   Singh v. State   of
M.P. [Narendra Singh v. State of M.P., (2004) 10
SCC   699], Budh   Singh v. State   of   U.P. [Budh
Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 9 SCC 731], State
of U.P. v. Ram Veer Singh [State of U.P. v. Ram
Veer   Singh,   (2007)   13   SCC   102], S.   Rama
Krishna v. S. Rami Reddy [S. Rama Krishna v. S.
Rami   Reddy,   (2008)   5   SCC   535], Arulvelu
v. State [Arulvelu v. State,   (2009)   10   SCC
206], Perla   Somasekhara   Reddy v. State   of
A.P. [Perla Somasekhara Reddy v. State of A.P.,
(2009)   16   SCC   98]   and Ram   Singh v. State   of
H.P. [Ram Singh v. State of H.P., (2010) 2 SCC
445)
13.   In Sheo   Swarup v. King   Emperor [Sheo
Swarup v. King Emperor, 1934 SCC OnLine PC
42], the Privy Council observed as under: (SCC
OnLine PC)
‘…  the  High  Court  should and will  always
give   proper   weight   and   consideration   to   such
matters as (1) the views of the trial Judge as to
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the   credibility   of   the   witnesses;   (2)   the
presumption   of   innocence   in   favour   of   the
accused, a presumption certainly not weakened
by the fact that he has been acquitted at his
trial; (3) the right of the accused to the benefit of
any doubt; and (4) the slowness of an appellate
court in disturbing a finding of fact arrived at by
a Judge who had the advantage of seeing the
witnesses.’
14.   The   aforesaid   principle   of   law   has
consistently   been   followed   by   this   Court.
(See Tulsiram   Kanu v. State [Tulsiram
Kanu v. State,   AIR   1954   SC   1   :   1954   Cri   LJ
225]   , Balbir   Singh v. State  of   Punjab [Balbir
Singh v. State   of   Punjab,   AIR   1957   SC   216   :
1957   Cri   LJ   481]   , M.G.   Agarwal v. State   of
Maharashtra [M.G.   Agarwal v. State   of
Maharashtra, AIR 1963 SC 200 : (1963) 1 Cri LJ
235]   , Khedu   Mohton v. State   of   Bihar [Khedu
Mohton v. State   of   Bihar,   (1970)   2   SCC   450   :
1970   SCC   (Cri)   479]   , Sambasivan v. State   of
Kerala [Sambasivan v. State of Kerala, (1998) 5
SCC   412   :   1998   SCC   (Cri)   1320]   , Bhagwan
Singh v. State of M.P. [Bhagwan Singh v. State of
M.P., (2002) 4 SCC 85 : 2002 SCC (Cri) 736]
and State   of   Goa v. Sanjay   Thakran [State   of
Goa v. Sanjay   Thakran,   (2007)   3   SCC   755   :
(2007) 2 SCC (Cri) 162] .)
15.   In Chandrappa v. State   of
Karnataka [Chandrappa v. State   of   Karnataka,
(2007) 4 SCC 415] , this Court reiterated the
legal position as under : (SCC p. 432, para 42)
‘42. … (1) An appellate court has full power to
review, reappreciate and reconsider the evidence
upon which the order of acquittal is founded.
(2)   The   Code   of   Criminal   Procedure,   1973
puts no limitation, restriction or condition on
exercise of such power and an appellate court on
the   evidence   before   it   may   reach   its   own
conclusion, both on questions of fact and of law.
(3) Various expressions, such as, “substantial
and   compelling   reasons”,   “good   and   sufficient
grounds”,   “very   strong   circumstances”,
7
“distorted conclusions”, “glaring mistakes”, etc.
are not intended to curtail extensive powers of
an   appellate   court   in   an   appeal   against
acquittal. Such phraseologies are more in the
nature of “flourishes of language” to emphasise
the reluctance of an appellate court to interfere
with acquittal than to curtail the power of the
court to review the evidence and to come to its
own conclusion.
(4) An appellate court, however, must bear in
mind that in case of acquittal, there is double
presumption   in   favour   of   the   accused. Firstly,
the presumption of innocence is available to him
under   the   fundamental   principle   of   criminal
jurisprudence   that   every   person   shall   be
presumed to be innocent unless he is proved
guilty by a competent court of law. Secondly, the
accused   having   secured   his   acquittal,   the
presumption   of   his   innocence   is   further
reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the
trial court.
(5) If two reasonable conclusions are possible
on   the   basis   of   the   evidence   on   record,   the
appellate court should not disturb the finding of
acquittal recorded by the trial court.’
16.   In Ghurey   Lal v. State   of   U.P. [Ghurey
Lal v. State of U.P., (2008) 10 SCC 450 : (2009) 1
SCC (Cri) 60] , this Court reiterated the said
view,   observing   that   the   appellate   court   in
dealing with the cases in which the trial courts
have acquitted the accused, should bear in mind
that   the   trial   court's   acquittal   bolsters   the
presumption that he is innocent. The appellate
court must give due weight and consideration to
the decision of the trial court as the trial court
had   the   distinct   advantage   of   watching   the
demeanour of the witnesses, and was in a better
position   to   evaluate   the   credibility   of   the
witnesses.
17. In State of Rajasthan v. Naresh [State of
Rajasthan v. Naresh, (2009) 9 SCC 368 : (2009)
3 SCC (Cri) 1069] , the Court again examined
the   earlier   judgments   of   this   Court   and   laid
down that : (SCC p. 374, para 20)
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‘20. … An order of acquittal should not be
lightly interfered with even if the Court believes
that   there   is   some   evidence   pointing   out   the
finger towards the accused.”
18.   In State   of   U.P. v. Banne [State   of
U.P. v. Banne, (2009) 4 SCC 271 : (2009) 2 SCC
(Cri) 260] , this Court gave certain illustrative
circumstances   in   which   the   Court   would   be
justified   in   interfering   with   a   judgment   of
acquittal by the High Court. The circumstances
include   :   (Banne   case [State   of   U.P. v. Banne,
(2009) 4 SCC 271 : (2009) 2 SCC (Cri) 260] ,
SCC p. 286, para 28)
‘28. … (i) The High Court's decision is based
on totally erroneous view of law by ignoring the
settled legal position;
(ii) The High Court's conclusions are contrary
to evidence and documents on record;
(iii) The entire approach of the High Court in
dealing   with   the   evidence   was   patently   illegal
leading to grave miscarriage of justice;
(iv) The High Court's judgment is manifestly
unjust   and   unreasonable   based   on   erroneous
law and facts on the record of the case;
(v) This Court must always give proper weight
and consideration to the findings of the High
Court;
(vi) This Court would be extremely reluctant
in   interfering   with   a   case   when   both   the
Sessions   Court   and   the   High   Court   have
recorded an order of acquittal.’
A   similar  view   has   been   reiterated   by   this
Court   in Dhanapal v. State [Dhanapal v. State,
(2009) 10 SCC 401 : (2010) 1 SCC (Cri) 336] .
19.   Thus,   the   law   on   the   issue   can   be
summarised   to   the   effect   that   in   exceptional
cases where there are compelling circumstances,
and the judgment under appeal is found to be
perverse, the appellate court can interfere with
the   order   of   acquittal.   The   appellate   court
9
should   bear   in   mind   the   presumption   of
innocence of the accused and further that the
trial court's acquittal bolsters the presumption
of   his   innocence.   Interference   in   a   routine
manner where the other view is possible should
be avoided, unless there are good reasons for
interference
16. When the findings of fact recorded by a court can be
held to be perverse has been dealt with and considered in
para 20 of the aforesaid decision, which reads as under :
(Babu case [Babu v. State of Kerala, (2010) 9 SCC 189 :
(2010) 3 SCC (Cri) 1179] , SCC p. 199)
“20. The findings of fact recorded by a court
can be held to be perverse if the findings have
been arrived at by ignoring or excluding relevant
material   or   by   taking   into  consideration
irrelevant/inadmissible   material.   The   finding
may also be said to be perverse if it is “against
the   weight   of   evidence”,   or   if   the   finding   so
outrageously defies logic as to suffer from the
vice   of   irrationality.   (Vide Rajinder   Kumar
Kindra v. Delhi   Admn. [Rajinder   Kumar
Kindra v. Delhi Admn., (1984) 4 SCC 635 : 1985
SCC (L&S) 131] , Excise & Taxation Officer­cumAssessing Authority v. Gopi Nath & Sons [Excise
&   Taxation   Officer­cum­Assessing
Authority v. Gopi   Nath   &   Sons,   1992   Supp   (2)
SCC   312]   , Triveni   Rubber   &
Plastics v. CCE [Triveni Rubber & Plastics v. CCE,
1994 Supp (3) SCC 665] , Gaya Din v. Hanuman
Prasad [Gaya Din v. Hanuman Prasad, (2001) 1
SCC   501]   , Arulvelu v. State [Arulvelu v. State,
(2009) 10 SCC 206 : (2010) 1 SCC (Cri) 288]
and Gamini   Bala   Koteswara   Rao v. State   of
A.P. [Gamini Bala Koteswara Rao v. State of A.P.,
(2009) 10 SCC 636 : (2010) 1 SCC (Cri) 372] )”
It   is   further   observed,   after   following   the
decision   of   this   Court   in Kuldeep
Singh v. Commr.   of   Police [Kuldeep
Singh v. Commr.   of   Police,   (1999)   2   SCC   10   :
1999   SCC   (L&S)   429],   that   if   a   decision   is
arrived   at   on   the   basis   of   no   evidence   or
thoroughly   unreliable   evidence   and   no
reasonable person would act upon it, the order
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would be perverse. But if there is some evidence
on record which is acceptable and which could
be relied upon, the conclusions would not be
treated as perverse and the findings would not
be interfered with.
17. In   the   decision   of   this   Court   in Vijay   Mohan
Singh v. State of Karnataka [Vijay Mohan Singh v. State of
Karnataka, (2019) 5 SCC 436 : (2019) 2 SCC (Cri) 586] ,
this Court again had an occasion to consider the scope of
Section 378 CrPC and the interference by the High Court
in an appeal against acquittal. This Court considered a
catena   of   decisions   of   this   Court   right   from   1952
onwards. In para 31, it is observed and held as under:
(Vijay Mohan Singh case, SCC pp. 447­49)
“31.   An   identical   question   came   to   be
considered   before   this   Court   in Umedbhai
Jadavbhai [Umedbhai   Jadavbhai v. State   of
Gujarat, (1978) 1 SCC 228 : 1978 SCC (Cri) 108]
. In the case before this Court, the High Court
interfered with the order of acquittal passed by
the learned trial court on reappreciation of the
entire   evidence   on   record.   However,   the   High
Court,   while   reversing   the   acquittal,   did   not
consider the reasons given by the learned trial
court while acquitting the accused. Confirming
the   judgment   of   the   High   Court,   this   Court
observed and held in para 10 as under : (SCC p.
233)
‘10. Once the appeal was rightly entertained
against the order of acquittal, the High Court
was entitled to reappreciate the entire evidence
independently and come to its own conclusion.
Ordinarily,   the   High   Court   would   give   due
importance to the opinion of the Sessions Judge
if   the   same   were   arrived   at   after   proper
appreciation of the evidence. This rule will not
be   applicable   in   the   present   case   where   the
Sessions Judge has made an absolutely wrong
assumption   of   a   very   material   and   clinching
aspect   in   the   peculiar   circumstances   of   the
case.’
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31.1.   In Sambasivan v. State   of
Kerala [Sambasivan v. State of Kerala, (1998) 5
SCC 412 : 1998 SCC (Cri) 1320] , the High Court
reversed  the order  of  acquittal  passed  by  the
learned trial court and held the accused guilty
on   reappreciation   of   the   entire   evidence   on
record, however, the High Court did not record
its   conclusion   on   the   question   whether   the
approach of the trial court in dealing with the
evidence was patently illegal or the conclusions
arrived   at   by   it   were   wholly   untenable.
Confirming the order passed by the High Court
convicting   the   accused   on   reversal   of   the
acquittal passed by the learned trial court, after
being satisfied that the order of acquittal passed
by   the   learned   trial   court   was   perverse   and
suffered from infirmities, this Court declined to
interfere with the order of conviction passed by
the High Court. While confirming the order of
conviction passed by the High Court, this Court
observed in para 8 as under : (SCC p. 416)
‘8.   We   have   perused   the   judgment   under
appeal to ascertain whether the High Court has
conformed to the aforementioned principles. We
find   that   the   High   Court   has   not   strictly
proceeded   in   the   manner   laid   down   by   this
Court   in Ramesh   Babulal   Doshi v. State   of
Gujarat [Ramesh   Babulal   Doshi v. State   of
Gujarat, (1996) 9 SCC 225 : 1996 SCC (Cri) 972]
viz. first recording its conclusion on the question
whether   the   approach   of   the   trial   court   in
dealing with the evidence was patently illegal or
the   conclusions   arrived   at   by   it   were   wholly
untenable, which alone will justify interference
in an order of acquittal though the High Court
has rendered a well­considered judgment duly
meeting all the contentions raised before it. But
then   will   this   non­compliance   per   se   justify
setting aside the judgment  under appeal? We
think,   not.   In   our   view,   in   such   a   case,   the
approach of the court which is considering the
validity of the judgment of an appellate court
which has reversed the order of acquittal passed
by the trial court, should be to satisfy itself if the
approach of the trial court in dealing with the
evidence   was   patently   illegal   or   conclusions
12
arrived at by it are demonstrably unsustainable
and whether the judgment of the appellate court
is free from those infirmities; if so to hold that
the trial court judgment warranted interference.
In such a case, there is obviously no reason why
the   appellate   court's   judgment   should   be
disturbed. But if on the other hand the court
comes to the conclusion that the judgment of
the trial court does not suffer from any infirmity,
it cannot but be held that the interference by the
appellate court in the order of acquittal was not
justified; then in such a case the judgment of
the appellate court has to be set aside as of the
two reasonable views, the one in support of the
acquittal alone has to stand. Having regard to
the   above   discussion,   we   shall   proceed   to
examine the judgment of the trial court in this
case.’
31.2.   In K.   Ramakrishnan   Unnithan v. State
of Kerala [K. Ramakrishnan Unnithan v. State of
Kerala, (1999) 3 SCC 309 : 1999 SCC (Cri) 410] ,
after   observing   that   though   there   is   some
substance   in   the   grievance   of   the   learned
counsel appearing on behalf of the accused that
the   High   Court   has   not   adverted   to   all   the
reasons given by the trial Judge for according an
order of acquittal, this Court refused to set aside
the order of conviction passed by the High Court
after   having   found   that   the   approach   of   the
Sessions   Judge   in   recording   the   order   of
acquittal   was   not   proper   and   the   conclusion
arrived   at   by   the   learned   Sessions   Judge   on
several aspects was unsustainable. This Court
further observed that as the Sessions Judge was
not justified in discarding the relevant/material
evidence while acquitting the accused, the High
Court,   therefore,   was   fully   entitled   to
reappreciate   the   evidence   and   record   its   own
conclusion. This Court scrutinised the evidence
of   the   eyewitnesses   and   opined   that   reasons
adduced   by   the   trial  court   for   discarding   the
testimony  of  the  eyewitnesses  were not   at  all
sound.   This   Court   also   observed   that   as   the
evaluation   of   the   evidence   made   by   the   trial
court was manifestly erroneous and therefore it
was the duty of the High Court to interfere with
13
an   order   of   acquittal   passed   by   the   learned
Sessions Judge.
31.3. In Atley v. State of U.P. [Atley v. State of
U.P., AIR 1955 SC 807 : 1955 Cri LJ 1653] , in
para 5, this Court observed and held as under :
(AIR pp. 809­10)
‘5. It has been argued by the learned counsel
for the appellant that the judgment of the trial
court   being   one   of   acquittal,   the   High   Court
should   not   have   set   it   aside   on   mere
appreciation of the evidence led on behalf of the
prosecution   unless   it   came   to   the   conclusion
that   the   judgment   of   the   trial   Judge   was
perverse. In our opinion, it is not correct to say
that   unless   the   appellate   court   in   an   appeal
under Section 417 CrPC came to the conclusion
that the judgment of acquittal under appeal was
perverse it could not set aside that order.
It has been laid down by this Court that it is
open to the High Court on an appeal against an
order of acquittal to review the entire evidence
and to come to its own conclusion, of course,
keeping  in view  the well­established rule  that
the presumption of innocence of the accused is
not weakened but strengthened by the judgment
of acquittal passed by the trial court which had
the   advantage   of   observing   the   demeanour   of
witnesses whose evidence has been recorded in
its presence.
It is also well­settled that the court of appeal
has as wide powers of appreciation of evidence
in an appeal against an order of acquittal as in
the   case   of   an   appeal   against   an   order   of
conviction,   subject   to   the   riders   that   the
presumption   of   innocence   with   which   the
accused   person   starts   in   the   trial   court
continues even up to the appellate stage and
that   the   appellate   court   should   attach   due
weight to the opinion of the trial court which
recorded the order of acquittal.
14
If the appellate court reviews the evidence,
keeping those principles in mind, and comes to
a contrary conclusion, the judgment cannot be
said   to   have   been   vitiated.   (See   in   this
connection   the   very   cases   cited   at   the   Bar,
namely, Surajpal   Singh v. State [Surajpal
Singh v. State,   1951   SCC   1207]   ; Wilayat
Khan v. State   of   U.P. [Wilayat   Khan v. State   of
U.P., 1951 SCC 898] ) In our opinion, there is no
substance in the contention raised on behalf of
the   appellant   that   the   High   Court   was   not
justified   in   reviewing   the   entire   evidence   and
coming to its own conclusions.’
31.4. In K.   Gopal   Reddy v. State   of   A.P. [K.
Gopal Reddy v. State of A.P., (1979) 1 SCC 355 :
1979 SCC (Cri) 305] , this Court has observed
that where the trial court allows itself to be beset
with   fanciful   doubts,   rejects   creditworthy
evidence for slender reasons and takes a view of
the evidence which is but barely possible, it is
the obvious duty of the High Court to interfere in
the interest of justice, lest the administration of
justice be brought to ridicule.”
18. In Umedbhai   Jadavbhai [Umedbhai
Jadavbhai v. State  of Gujarat, (1978) 1 SCC 228 : 1978
SCC (Cri) 108] , in para 10, it is observed and held as
under : (SCC p. 233)
“10. Once the appeal was rightly entertained
against the order of acquittal, the High Court
was entitled to reappreciate the entire evidence
independently and come to its own conclusion.
Ordinarily,   the   High   Court   would   give   due
importance to the opinion of the Sessions Judge
if   the   same   were   arrived   at   after   proper
appreciation of the evidence. This rule will not
be   applicable   in   the   present   case   where   the
Sessions Judge has made an absolutely wrong
assumption   of   a   very   material   and   clinching
aspect   in   the   peculiar   circumstances   of   the
case.”
15
19. In Atley v. State   of   U.P. [Atley v. State  of   U.P.,   AIR
1955   SC   807   :   1955   Cri   LJ   1653]   ,   this   Court   has
observed and held as under : (AIR pp. 809­10, para 5)
“5. It has been argued by the learned counsel
for the appellant that the judgment of the trial
court   being   one   of   acquittal,   the   High   Court
should   not   have   set   it   aside   on   mere
appreciation of the evidence led on behalf of the
prosecution   unless   it   came   to   the   conclusion
that   the   judgment   of   the   trial   Judge   was
perverse. In our opinion, it is not correct to say
that   unless   the   appellate   court   in   an   appeal
under Section 417 CrPC came to the conclusion
that the judgment of acquittal under appeal was
perverse it could not set aside that order.
It has been laid down by this Court that it is
open to the High Court on an appeal against an
order of acquittal to review the entire evidence
and to come to its own conclusion, of course,
keeping  in view  the well­established rule  that
the presumption of innocence of the accused is
not weakened but strengthened by the judgment
of acquittal passed by the trial court which had
the   advantage   of   observing   the   demeanour   of
witnesses whose evidence has been recorded in
its presence.
It is also well­settled that the court of appeal
has as wide powers of appreciation of evidence
in an appeal against an order of acquittal as in
the   case   of   an   appeal   against   an   order   of
conviction,   subject   to   the   riders   that   the
presumption   of   innocence   with   which   the
accused   person   starts   in   the   trial   court
continues even up to the appellate stage and
that   the   appellate   court   should   attach   due
weight to the opinion of the trial court which
recorded the order of acquittal.
If the appellate court reviews the evidence,
keeping those principles in mind, and comes to
a contrary conclusion, the judgment cannot be
said   to   have   been   vitiated.   (See   in   this
connection   the   very   cases   cited   at   the   Bar,
namely, Surajpal   Singh v. State [Surajpal
16
Singh v. State,   1951   SCC   1207]   ; Wilayat
Khan v. State   of   U.P. [Wilayat   Khan v. State   of
U.P., 1951 SCC 898] ) In our opinion, there is no
substance in the contention raised on behalf of
the   appellant   that   the   High   Court   was   not
justified   in   reviewing   the   entire   evidence   and
coming to its own conclusions.”
20. In K.   Gopal   Reddy v. State   of   A.P. [K.   Gopal
Reddy v. State of A.P., (1979) 1 SCC 355 : 1979 SCC (Cri)
305] , this Court has observed that where the trial court
allows   itself   to   be   beset   with   fanciful   doubts,   rejects
creditworthy evidence for slender reasons and takes a
view of the evidence which is but barely possible, it is the
obvious duty of the High Court to interfere in the interest
of justice, lest the administration of justice be brought to
ridicule.”
7. Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid
decisions of this Court to the facts of the case on hand and
while considering the impugned judgment and order passed
by the High Court, we find the same is unsustainable. On
perusal of the impugned judgment and order passed by the
High Court, we find that decision of the High Court is totally
erroneous as it has ignored the settled legal position. As
observed   hereinabove,   the   High   Court   has   not   at   all
discussed   and/or   re­appreciated   the   entire   evidence   on
record. In fact, the High Court has only made the general
observations on the deposition of the witnesses examined.
However, there is no re­appreciation of entire evidence on
17
record in detail, which ought to have been done by the High
Court,   being   a   first   appellate   court.   Under   the
circumstances   on   the   aforesaid   ground   alone,   impugned
judgment and order passed by the High Court deserves to
be quashed and set aside and the same is to be remanded
back   to   the   High   Court   to   decide   the   appeal   afresh   in
accordance with law and on its own merits being mindful of
the observations made hereinabove.
8. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above and
without expressing anything on the merits of the case, the
present   appeal   is   allowed.   The   impugned   judgment   and
order passed by the High Court in Criminal Appeal No.2356
of 2019 is hereby quashed and set aside. The appeal before
the High Court is ordered to be restored to its original file.
The   High   Court   to   decide   and   dispose   of   the   appeal   in
accordance with law and on its own merits, bearing in mind
the   observations   made   hereinabove.   The   High   Court   is
requested to decide and dispose of the appeal on merits at
the earliest.            
…………………………………J.
   (M. R. SHAH)
18
…………………………………J.
  (B. V. NAGARATHNA)
New Delhi, 
January, 18th 2022
19

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