MALLAPPA & ORS. VERSUS STATE OF KARNATAKA | Criminal Appeal No(s). 1162/2011

MALLAPPA & ORS. VERSUS STATE OF KARNATAKA | Criminal Appeal No(s). 1162/2011

In this matter, the Supreme Court elucidates the principles to be observed when adjudicating appeals from acquittals. The ruling, authored by Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, delineates six guiding principles for the High Court or Appellate Court to adhere to in such circumstances. These principles are outlined to govern the appellate process and ensure a fair and just determination of appeals from acquittals.

(i) Appreciation of evidence is the core element of a criminal trial and such appreciation must be comprehensive – inclusive of all evidence, oral or documentary;

(ii) Partial or selective appreciation of evidence may result in a miscarriage of justice and is in itself a ground of challenge;

(iii) If the Court, after appreciation of evidence, finds that two views are possible, the one in favour of the accused shall ordinarily be followed;

(iv) If the view of the Trial Court is a legally plausible view, mere possibility of a contrary view shall not justify the reversal of acquittal;

(v) If the appellate Court is inclined to reverse the acquittal in appeal on a re-appreciation of evidence, it must specifically address all the reasons given by the Trial Court for acquittal and must cover all the facts;

(vi) In a case of reversal from acquittal to conviction, the appellate Court must demonstrate an illegality, perversity or error of law or fact in the decision of the Trial Court.

The court while applying the aforesaid principles came to the finding that while re-appreciating the evidence, the High Court has erred in reversing the decision of acquittal without arriving at any finding of illegality or perversity or error in the reasoning of the Trial Court. Accordingly, the impugned order and judgment are set aside. Consequently, the appellants accused are acquitted of all the charges levied upon them.