The Supreme Court of India using principles of law overturned the conviction by the High Court and resurrected the judgment of the trial court in acquitting the accused of the charge of murder.The principle utilized was that of a high standard of evidence for convicting the accused.

In a criminal appeal (No. 334 of 2019) Bhupatbhai Bachubhai Chavda and another appellant, a father and son, were initially acquitted by the Sessions Court for a murder committed in 1996. The State of Gujarat appealed this acquittal, and the High Court reversed the decision, convicting them of murder. However, the Supreme Court found this reversal improper. Key points include:

  1. Initial Incident and Trials: The appellants were accused of fatally assaulting a man with pipes and sticks in 1996. They were acquitted in 1997, but the High Court later convicted them, prompting this appeal.
  2. High Court’s Errors: The Supreme Court criticized the High Court for its approach in reversing the acquittal. It noted that the High Court should not have overturned the acquittal unless it was proven that the acquittal was perverse or unreasonable based on the evidence presented. The Supreme Court also pointed out the improper application of the burden of proof by the High Court.
  3. Eyewitness Credibility: The credibility of an eyewitness (PW-4) was questioned, especially given conflicting medical testimony about when he was injured and discrepancies in his account of the events.
  4. Final Decision: The Supreme Court restored the initial acquittal from 1997, ruling that the evidence did not conclusively prove the appellants’ guilt and that the High Court had incorrectly interpreted the burden of proof.
  5. Legal Principles: The judgment discusses important legal principles regarding appeals against acquittal, notably the proper role of appellate courts in reevaluating evidence from trials and the presumption of innocence.

This decision underscores the judiciary’s cautious approach in dealing with appeals against acquittals, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a high standard of proof and judicial consistency.

Bhupatbhai Bachubhai Chavda & Anr. … Appellants
versus
State of Gujarat … Responden
t…decided by the Supreme Court of India on 10.04.24

By aor.sanjivnarang@gmail.com

Sanjiv Narang Adv. is an Advocate on Record in the Supreme Court of India. His qualifications include an LLB from University of Delhi and a Masters degree in Personnel Management from Panjab University,Chandigarh.In his more than 3 decades of experience, he has practiced law at the District, High Court and Supreme Court levels.He also has more than a decade of experience in the field of Management. He is the author of two books namely Laws for Women in India and Innovation, Why What and How.