High Court prohibited from converting a finding of acquittal into one of conviction while exercising its powers of revision: SC

The Supreme Court ruled that the High Court is prohibited from converting a finding of acquittal into one of conviction while exercising its powers of revision.

All the original accused were charged and tried for the offenses punishable under Sections 147, 148, 324, 326, 307, 506(ii) r/w section 149 IPC. The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Tiruchirapalli, by judgment, convicted the accused under the aforesaid offenses except Sections 307 and 506(ii) IPC and thereby acquitted the accused under Sections 307 and 506(ii) IPC. 

Senior advocate S. Nagamuthu, appearing on behalf of the accused, contended that the High Court has erred in reversing the acquittal and convicting the accused. He argued that while exercising the revisional jurisdiction under Section 401 Cr.P.C. the High Court has no jurisdiction at all to convert a finding of acquittal into one of conviction. 

Advocate Joseph Aristotle, appearing on behalf of the respondent-State, fairly conceded that in exercise of powers under Section 401 Cr.P.C., the High Court could not have reversed the acquittal and/or convert a finding of acquittal into one of conviction.

The division bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna noted that after the amendment in Section 372 Cr.P.C. after 2009 and insertion of proviso to Section 372 Cr.P.C., a victim has a statutory right of appeal against the order of acquittal.

The court set aside the impugned common judgment and order passed by the High Court reversing the acquittal and convicting the accused, said that while exercising the powers under sub-section (5) to Section 401 Cr.P.C. to treat the revision application as a petition of appeal. The High Court is required to pass a judicial order. 

The court further remitted the matters to the High Court and directed it to treat the revision applications as appeals under Section 372 Cr.P.C. and thereafter to decide and dispose of the same in accordance with law on their own merits. 

Case title: Joseph Stephen and Ors. v/s Santhanasamy and Ors.

Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 90-93 OF 2022

Click here to read the Order/Judgment

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