06 May 2121

The High Court has the power to interfere with the judgment of Trial Court under Section 378 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 when the findings were perverse or it is necessary in interest of justice - Supreme Court of India

Case : Guru Dutt Pathak v. State of Uttar Pradesh Criminal appeal no 502 of 2015

Court : Supreme Court of India

Bench : Justice Dr. Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud and Justice M. R. Shah

Decided on : 06 May 2121

Relevant Statutes

Section 302 and 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section 378 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Brief Facts and Procedural History:

1. The deceased was the Pradhan of the village and the accused has grudges against him. The deceased was going to attend the call of nature towards the Yamuna River situated near his village. When the deceased reached, all the four accused suddenly came out from the Bajra field. Accused Murlidhar Pathak and Gurudatt Pathak were armed with lathis and Dharmraj Pathak armed with spears and Ramraj Pathak were armed with pistols. The deceased was attacked by the accused.

2. On the spot, the first informant Satrughan Pathak, Ramsukh Pathak, Lalmani Pathak and Shiv Shankar rushed towards the deceased and then the accused Ramraj Pathak fired a shot from the pistol and the deceased shot dead on the spot. After this son of the deceased filed an F.I.R against all the accused which was registered by the Investigating Officer. He filed a charge sheet against one accused and the other three absconded accused. 

The Learned Trial court has acquitted the accused for the offences under Section 302 of Indian Penal code, 1860 read with Section 34 of Indian Penal code, 1860. Further, an appeal was preferred by the state in the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad and the Court allowed the appeal and set aside the judgment of the learned Trial Court and convicted the accused. The Accused filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the judgment of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad.

The Issue of the Case

Whether the High court has the power to interfere with the Judgment of learned Trial Court under Section 378 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or the accused shall be convicted under Section 302 of Indian Penal code, 1860?

The Observations of the Court

1. The Honourable Supreme Court overviewed the scope of Section 378 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 and referred to one of the judgments Umedbhai Jadavbhai (1978) 1 SCC 228, In this case, the Court observed that if the appeal is rightly entertained against the order of acquittal, then the High Court has entitled to re-appreciate the entire evidence and also give importance to decision of the Session Judge if it has arrived after the proper appreciation of the evidence. In Another Judgment K.Gopal  Reddy  v. State of Andhra Pradesh ((1979) 1 SCC 355), The Court observed that if the trial court rejects the creditworthy evidence then it is the duty of the high court to interfere in the interest of justice.

2. The Honourable Supreme Court observed all the grounds on which the trial court acquitted the accused and held that findings by the trial court are perverse. The Honourable Supreme Court overviewed the observation made by the High court on each ground and held that no error was committed by the High Court in interference with the impugned judgment of the learned Trial court and in the conviction of the accused. There is direct evidence in the form of eye witness which are reliable and trustworthy.

3. In one of the Judgments, Surinder Kumar vs. State of Punja (2020) 2 SCC 563 Where there is no independent witness was examined then it does not lead to the conclusion that the accused was falsely implicated. 

Decision Held:

1. The present appeal is dismissed. The Honourable Supreme court totally agreed with the judgment of the High Court.

2. The Honourable Supreme Court granted interim bail to originally accused no-4 “Guru Dutt Pathak up to 30.04.2021 which was not further extended. 

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