Supreme Court: Order of Acquittal Should Not Be Interfered With Lightly

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The Supreme Court advises against meddling lightly with an order of acquittal.

The bench declared that it saw “no reason to entertain any challenge as against such acquittal” after reviewing the record.

While restoring the exoneration of a man accused of cruelly treating his wife, the Supreme Court stated that an order of acquittal should not be interfered with lightly.

The Supreme Court noted that before overturning such an order, the appellate court must consider every factor that the trial court considered when recording an acquittal.

A bench of justices UU Lalit and SR Bhat overturned the Madras High Court’s March 2019 decision that had reinstated the man’s conviction for an alleged offense under section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with a husband or his relative cruelly treating a married woman.

The order of acquittal recorded under section 498-A of the IPC needed to be set aside, but no justification was provided by the judgment in question, the bench ruled.

“It is established law that an order of acquittal should not be interfered with lightly, and the appellate court must consider all factors that the relevant court considered when recording the acquittal before setting it aside.

The High Court did not engage in such an exercise, the highest court declared.

The bench made the decision after hearing the cross-appeals submitted by the original complainant and the defendant who were contesting the high court’s decision.

The high court had upheld the accused’s conviction for the alleged offense under section 498-A of the IPC while clearing him of the charge under section 494 of the IPC, which addresses remarriage while a spouse is still alive.

As far as the complainant’s challenge to the accused’s acquittal under section 494 of the IPC was concerned, the top court also addressed it.

The bench declared that it saw “no reason to entertain any challenge as against such acquittal” after reviewing the record.

The bench stated, “Therefore, we accept the appeal preferred by the accused, set aside the order passed by the high court, and restore the order of acquittal in respect of the offense punishable under section 498-A as recorded by the appellate court.”

The accuser and the complainant exchanged rings and began living together as husband and wife after becoming engaged in 1987, the prosecution claims.

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