SC| Appellant Courts should be careful while rejecting application for filing ‘crucial’ additional evidence

Supreme Court: In an appeal filed against the decision of the Allahabad High Court where it had rejected the application under Section 391 Cr.P.C on the ground that the additional evidence was filed with malafide intentions for delaying the decision of the appeal, the bench of Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph, JJ said:

“When Statute grants right to appeal to an accused, he has right to take all steps and take benefit of all powers of the Appellate Court in the ends of the justice. In a criminal case Appellate Court has to consider as to whether conviction of the accused is sustainable or the appellant has made out a case for acquittal. The endeavour of all Courts has to reach to truth and justice.”

Present is the case where the appellant was convicted by a trail court on 07.10.2013 for cheating the complainant with regard to sale of agricultural land of the trust. He had produced a photocopy of the Trust Deed before the trial court, however, it was not proved.  On 08.10.2013, he appealed before the High Court and filed an application before the court to accept the certified copy of the Trust Deed and the Resolution and permit the appellant to lead evidence. The High Court, however, rejected the application and observed that the application was filed with some ulterior malafide motive.

Not agreeing with the view of the High Court, the bench of Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph, JJ said:

“Filing of the application before the High Court to accept the certified copy of the Trust Deed and the Resolution and permit the appellant to lead evidence can in no manner be said to be malafide motive of the accused, who had been convicted in the appeal, has right to take all the grounds and also lead additional evidence, which in accordance with the Appellate Court is necessary in deciding the appeal.”

On the observation of the High Court that the application to take additional evidence at the appellate stage was filed by appellant for delaying the decision of the appeal to eternity, the bench said:

“when prosecution took twelve years’ time in leading evidence before the trial court and the judgment by trial court was delivered on 07.10.2013, the appeal was filed on 08.10.2013, how can appellant be castigated with the allegation that he intended to delay the appeal to eternity.”

It was noticed that trust Deed and the Resolution, which are foundation and basis for the start of the process of the sale of the land, were documents which ought to have been permitted to be proved to arrive at any conclusion to find out the criminal intent, if any, on the part of the appellant. The Court, hence, held that the High Court had failed to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 391 Cr.P.C. and has committed error in rejecting the applications under Section 391 Cr.P.C.

[Brig. Sukhjeet Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 72, decided on 24.01.2019]

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