The Supreme Court set aside an order of conviction for murder holding that an appellate court cannot overturn an order of acquittal only on the ground that another view is possible.

The Court explained that an appellate court could interfere with an order of acquittal only if it was satisfied after reappreciating the evidence that the only possible conclusion was that the guilt of the accused had been established beyond a reasonable doubt.

Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan observed, “It is true that while deciding an appeal against acquittal, the Appellate Court has to reappreciate the evidence. After re-appreciating the evidence, the first question that needs to be answered by the Appellate Court is whether the view taken by the Trial Court was a plausible view that could have been taken based on evidence on record.

Sr. Advocate D.N. Ray represented the appellants, while AOR Swati Ghildiyal appeared for the respondent.

The appellants had initially been acquitted by the Trial Court in 1997 for the offence punishable under Section 302, read with Section 34 of the IPC. However, the Gujarat High Court ultimately converted the acquittal of the appellants into a conviction for the offence punishable under Sections 302, 34 and 323 of the IPC in 2018.

The Supreme Court pointed out that an appellate court cannot overturn an order of acquittal only on the ground that another view is possible.

As is apparent from Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC), statements recorded by police under Section 161 of the CrPC cannot be used for any purpose except to contradict the witness. The Trial Court gives several reasons for discarding the testimony of PW-4. His prior enmity with the appellants and his failure to report the incident to the police, notwithstanding available opportunities, are also the factors considered by the Trial Court,” the Court noted.

The Court found no reason for the High Court to overturn the order of acquittal when the findings of the Trial Court were possible findings that could be arrived at after reappreciating evidence.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal.

Cause Title: Bhupatbhai Bachubhai Chavda & Anr. v. State of Gujarat (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 295)


Appellants: Sr. Advocate D.N. Ray; AOR Sumita Ray; Advocates Dillip Kumar Nayak and Disha Ray

Respondent: AOR Swati Ghildiyal; Advocate Devyani Bhatt

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