The Orissa High Court refused to interfere in an appeal against the order of acquittal which was recorded 29 years back, in 1994 by the Magistrate Court, as it was not in the interest of justice.

The Bench of Justice G. Satapathy observed that “One of the important fact, which weighed in the mind of this court is that the order of acquittal of the accused persons was recorded by the learned trial Court around 29 years back and reversing such finding of acquittal after a long lapse of time, can never be said to be in the interest of justice for a matter relating to civil dispute between the parties.”

Advocate A. Pradhan appeared for the appellant and none appeared for the respondent.

In this case, a complaint was filed by the appellant, wherein it was alleged that the respondents had cut and had taken away paddy grown by him on his land. On receipt of complaint, the Sub. Divisional Judicial Magistrate took cognizance of offence under Section 379 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and the respondent-accused persons were put on trial. On conclusion of trial, the respondents were acquitted by the Magistrate. Against this order of acquittal appeal was preferred before the High Court.

It was contended by the counsel for the appellant that the respondents had been acquitted solely on the ground that the ownership of the land was doubtful and that their allegation was to the effect that the paddy grown by the appellant had been cut down and taken away by the respondents and a clear case of theft was made out against the respondents. And, therefore, the acquittal should be reversed.

The High Court emphasized that as per the settled position of law, order of acquittal should not ordinarily be disturbed as the presumption of innocence was re-enforced in favour of the accused persons.

“The appellate Court in case of appeal against acquittal shall not embark upon reappreciation of evidence, unless there is clear miscarriage of justice and compelling reasons for doing so by the acquittal of the accused-respondents. Aforestated principle has not been settled arbitrarily or whimsically because it cannot be denied that the trial Court has the advantage of looking at the demeanour of the witnesses and observing their actual conduct in the witness box.” remarked the Court.

The Court further appreciated the facts of the case and observed that “A bare perusal of the complaint would go to disclose about some civil dispute between the appellant and respondents, but the trial Court was approached for redressal of grievance of complainant in criminal side i.e. for commission of theft.”

Therefore, the Court refused to interfere with the well-reasoned judgment of acquittal recorded around 29 years back to reverse the finding and convict the respondent-accused.

Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.

Cause Title- Ashok Kumar Das v. Kapileswar Samal and others

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