The Supreme Court while dealing with an appeal challenging the order of the Uttarakhand High Court dismissed the appeal on the ground that the Court should not interfere in an order of acquittal especially when there is no new evidence brought to bring a new angle to the case.

The Appeal was filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against the Respondents, who were members of the police force accused of killing a man.

The Two Judge Bench comprising of Justice B. V. Nagarathna and Justice Manoj Misra said that “It is trite law that in an appeal against acquittal, the power of the appellate court to reappreciate evidence and come to its own conclusion is not circumscribed by any limitation. But it is equally settled that the appellate court must not interfere with an order of acquittal merely because a contrary view is permissible, particularly, where the view taken by the trial court is a plausible view based on proper appreciation of evidence and is not vitiated by ignorance/misreading of relevant evidence on record.”

The Apex Court placed reliance on the evidence presented in the Trial Court and agreed with the findings of the Trial Court wherein the prosecution failed to prove the crime of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

ASG Vikramjeet Banerjee appeared for the Appellants while AOR Praveen Chaturvedi appeared for the Respondents.

In this case, the deceased was shot while returning home on a scooter. Two other friends of the deceased were accompanying him in a different scooter. They saw three policemen standing on the road. One of the policemen flashed a torch due to which the deceased and his friends skid. Among the commotion, the deceased was shot. In the presence of police, the deceased was rushed to the hospital but he succumbed to his injuries on the way and an FIR was registered by the friend of the deceased.

Another version of the incident was lodged by the police wherein it was stated that there was prior information about robbers travelling on the same road and upon firing from the deceased, the police shot back. The case was handed over to the CBI. After analyzing the entire prosecution evidence in detail, the trial court concluded that the prosecution had failed to prove that those three policemen in uniform were the persons facing trial.

The State filed an appeal in the High Court along with a condonation of delay. The High Court by the impugned order allowed the delay condonation application but rejected the application seeking leave to appeal and dismissed the appeal accordingly. The Appellants therefore approached the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court after a careful examination of facts and circumstances said that “... because the incident is of the year 1987 and the appeal has remained pending since more than a decade. In such circumstances, if we remit the matter to the High Court only to rewrite the judgment, it would be travesty of justice. Consequently, as the trial court has dealt with the matter at great length and has discussed each and every piece of evidence on which the prosecution seeks to rely, it would be apposite for us to assess whether, by not granting leave to appeal against the judgment of the trial court, there has been a miscarriage of justice.”

The Court further added that the cartridge found was not proved to be from the accused and the witness statement was unreliable as the witness had submitted an affidavit, the authenticity of which was questioned.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court dismissed the Appeal.

Cause Title: Central Bureau of Investigation v. Shyam Bihar & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2023 INSC 623)

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