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State Of U.P. vs Chandrika Prasad And 2 Ors. on 25 November, 2019

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD

Court No. 48

Government Appeal No. 460 of 2018

State of U.P. —- Appellant

Vs

1. Chandrika Prasad

2. Pankaj

3. Nanbachchi —- Respondents

For Appellant : Sri J.K. Upadhyay, A.G.A.

For Respondents : None

Hon’ble Pritinker Diwaker, J.

Hon’ble Raj Beer Singh, J.

Per: Pritinker Diwaker, J

(25.11.2019)

1. Heard on Admission.

2. Challenge in the present government appeal is to the judgment and order dated 05.07.2019 passed by the Sessions Judge, Siddharthnagar in Sessions Trial No. 138 of 2015, acquitting all the respondents of the offence under Sections 498A, 304B, 302 of IPC and Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

3. In the present case, name of deceased is Punita wife of respondent no.2. Respondent no.1-Chandrika Prasad is her father-in-law whereas respondent no.3-Nanbachchi is her mother-in-law. Deceased died on 19.5.2015 by drowning in a river in her matrimonial village. On the report lodged by Vinod Kumar (PW-1), brother of the deceased, offence under Sections 498A, 304B of IPC and Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act was registered against the respondents and while framing the charge, trial judge has framed charge against them under Sections 498A, 304B in alterntaive 302/34 of IPC read with Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act.

4. So as to hold accused persons guilty, prosecution has examined eight witnesses. Statements of accused persons were recorded under Section 313 of Cr.P.C. in which, they pleaded their innocence and false implication.

5. By the impugned judgement, the trial Judge has acquitted the respondents of all the offences. Hence the present appeal assailing the acquittal.

6. Learned counsel for the State-appellant submits:-

(I) that the trial judge has erred in law in acquitting the respondents.

(II) that once the deceased died within seven years of her marriage, accused persons are liable to be convicted under Section 304B of IPC.

7. We have heard learned counsel for the appellant and perused the record. None for the respondents.

8. In the evidence, it has come that the deceased died in her parents’ village by drowning. It has also come in the evidence that at the relevant time, husband of the deceased was residing at Mumbai and but for general allegations, there is no clinching and conclusive evidence that the deceased was subjected to cruelty for demand of dowry. At least, there is no evidence that soon before the death, deceased was subjected to cruelty for demand of dowry. It has also come in evidence that the deceased had gone to ease herself and, therefore, possibility of her accidental death can not be ruled out. It has also come in evidence that relation between deceased and accused persons were cordial.

9. While considering the scope of interference in an appeal or revision against acquittal, it has been held by the Supreme Court that if two views of the evidence are reasonable possible, one supporting the acquittal and other indicating conviction, the High Court should not, in such a situation, reverse the order of acquittal recorded by the trial Court. In the matter of State of Karnataka vs. K. Gopalkrishna reported in (2005) 9 SCC 291, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, while dealing with an appeal against acquittal, observed as under:

“In such an appeal the Appellate Court does not lightly disturb the findings of fact recorded by the Court below. If on the basis of the same evidence, two views are reasonably possible, and the view favouring the accused is accepted by the Court below, that is sufficient for upholding the order of acquittal. However, if the Appellate Court comes to the conclusion that the findings of the Court below are wholly unreasonable or perverse and not based on the evnidence on record, or suffers from serious illegality including ignorance or misreading of evidence on record, the Appellate Court will be justified in setting aside such an order of acquittal.”

10.  In Sudershan Kumar v. State of Himachal reported in (2014) 15 SCC 666 the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed thus;-

“31.It has been stated and restated that a cardinal principle in criminal jurisprudence that presumption of innocence of the accused is reinforced by an order of the acquittal. The appellate court, in such a case, would interfere only for very substantial and compelling reason. There is plethora of case laws on this proposition and we need not burden this judgment by referring to those decisions. Our purpose would be served by referring to one reasoned pronouncement entitled Dhanapal v. State which is the judgment where most of the earlier decisions laying down the aforesaid principle are referred to. In para 37, propositions laid down in an earlier case are taken note of as under: –

“37. In Chandrappa v. State of Karnataka, this Court held: ( SCC p. 432 para 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”, “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.”

32. Thereafter, in para 39, the Court curled out five principles and we would like to reproduce the said para hereunder:

“39. The following principles emerge from the cases above:

1. The accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. The accused possessed this presumption when he was before the trial court. The trial court’s acquittal bolsters the presumption that he is innocent.

2. The power of reviewing evidence is wide and the appellate court can re- appreciate the entire evidence on record. It can review the trial court’s conclusion with respect to both facts and law, but the Appellate Court must give due weight and consideration to the decision of the trial court.

3. The appellate court should always keep in mind that the trial court had the distinct advantage of watching the demeanour of the witnesses. The trial court is in a better position to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses.

4. The appellate court may only overrule or otherwise disturb the trial court’s acquittal if it has “very substantial and compelling reasons” for doing so.

5. If two reasonable or possible views can be reached – one that leads to acquittal, the other to conviction – the High Courts/appellate courts must rule in favour of the accused.”

11.  In Dilawar Singh v. State of Haryana, (2015) 1 SCC 737, the Supreme Court reiterated the same in paragraphs 36 and 37 as under :

“36. The court of appeal would not ordinarily interfere with the order of acquittal unless the approach is vitiated by manifest illegality. In an appeal against acquittal, this Court will not interfere with an order of acquittal merely because on the evaluation of the evidence, a different plausible view may arise and views taken by the courts below is not correct. In other words, this Court must come to the conclusion that the views taken by the learned courts below, while acquitting, cannot be the views of a reasonable person on the material on record.

36. In Chandrappa v. State of Karnataka, the scope of power of appellate court dealing with an appeal against acquittal has been considered and this Court held as under: (SCC p.432 para 42) “42….(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.”

Unless there are substantial and compelling reasons, the order of acquittal is not required to be reversed in appeal. It has been so stated in State of Rajasthan v. Shera Ram.”

12. Considering the above legal position and the factual aspect of the case, we are of the view that the trial Judge was justified in acquitting the respondents.

13. Taking all the circumstances as it is, leave as prayed for by the State, is refused. Hence, the appeal is dismissed at the admission stage itself.

Date: 25.11.2019

RK/A.Tripathi

(Raj Beer Singh, J) (Pritinker Diwaker, J)

 

 

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