There is an acquittal and therefore, there is double presumption in favour of the accused. Firstly, the presumption of innocence available to the accused under the fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that every person shall be presumed to be innocent unless he is proved guilty by a competent court of law. Secondly, the accused having secured acquittal, the presumption of their innocence is further reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the Trial Court. For acquitting accused, the Trial Court observed that the prosecution had failed to prove its case. State of Maharashtra v. Chandrakant Bhagwan Katkar, Cri. Appeal No. 677 of 2003 decided on 16.12.2019
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Amended Section 148 of the Negotiable Instruments Act confers power upon the appellate court to pass an order pending appeal to direct the appellant-accused to deposit the sum which shall not be less than 20% of the fine or compensation either on an application filed by the original complainant or even on the application filed by the appellant-accused under Section 389 Criminal Procedure Code to suspend the sentence. The aforesaid is required to be construed considering the fact that as per the amended Section 148 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, a minimum of 20% of the fine or compensation awarded by the trial court is directed to be deposited and that such amount is to be deposited within a period of 60 days from the date of the order, or within such further period not exceeding 30 days as may be directed by the appellate court for sufficient cause shown by the appellant. Therefore, if amended Section 148 of the Negotiable Instruments Act is purposively interpreted in such a manner it would serve the Objects and Reasons of not only amendment in Section 148 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, but also Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. The Negotiable Instruments Act has been amended from time to time so as to provide, inter alia, speedy disposal of cases relating to the offence of the dishonour of cheques. So as to see that due to delay tactics by the unscrupulous drawers of the dishonoured cheques due to easy filing of the appeals and obtaining stay in the proceedings, an injustice was caused to the payee of a dishonoured cheque who has to spend considerable time and resources in the court proceedings to realise the value of the cheque and having observed that such delay has compromised the sanctity of the cheque transactions, Parliament has thought it fit to amend Section 148 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. Therefore, such a purposive interpretation would be in furtherance of the Objects and Reasons of the amendment in Section 148 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and also Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. Surinder Singh Deswal v. Virender Gandhi, (2019) 11 SCC 341
In P. Vijayan v. State of Kerala, (2010) 2 SCC 398, it was held as under:
- If two views are possible and one of them gives rise to suspicion only as distinguished from grave suspicion, the trial Judge would be empowered to discharge the accused.
- The trial Judge is not a mere post office to frame the charge at the instance of the prosecution.
- The Judge has merely to sift the evidence in order to find out whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding. Evidence would consist of the statements recorded by the police or the documents produced before the court.
- If the evidence which the prosecutor proposes to adduce to prove the guilt of the accused, even if fully accepted before it is challenged in cross examination or rebutted by the defense evidence, if any, cannot show that the accused committed offence, then, there will be no sufficient ground for proceeding with the Trial.
- It is open to the accused to explain away the materials giving rise to the grave suspicion.
- The court has to consider the broad probabilities, the total effect of the evidence and the documents produced before the court, any basic infirmities appearing in the case and so on. This, however, would not entitle the court to make a roving enquiry into the pros and cons.
- At the time of framing of the charges, the probative value of the material on record cannot be gone into, and the material brought on record by the prosecution, has to be accepted as true.
- There must exist some materials for entertaining the strong suspicion which can form the basis for drawing up a charge and refusing to discharge the accused.
The defence of the accused is not to be looked into at the stage when the accused seeks to be discharged under Section 227 CrPC. The expression, “the record of the case”, used in Section 227 CrPC, is to be understood as the documents and the articles, if any, produced by the prosecution. The Code does not give any right to the accused to produce any document at the stage of framing of the charge. At the stage of framing of the charge, the submission of the accused is to be confined to the material produced by the police”. M.E. Shivalingamurthy v. Central Bureau of Investigation, (2020) 2 SCC 768.
In Rajbir v. State of Haryana, (2010) 15 SCC 116 the court had directed the addition of a charge under Section 302 IPC to every case in which the accused are charged with Section 304-B. That was not the true purport of the order passed by the court. The direction was not meant to be followed mechanically and without due regard to the nature of the evidence available in the case. All that the Court meant to say was that in a case where a charge alleging dowry death is framed, a charge under Section 302 can also be framed if the evidence otherwise permits. No other meaning could be deduced from the order of the Court.
It is common ground that a charge under Section 304-B IPC is not a substitute for a charge of murder punishable under Section 302. As in the case of murder punishable under Section 304-B also there is a death involved. The question whether it is murder punishable under Section 302 IPC or a dowry death punishable under Section 304-B IPC depends upon the fact situation and the evidence in the case. If there is evidence whether direct or circumstantial to prima facie support a charge under Section 302 IPC the trial court can and indeed ought to frame a charge of murder punishable under Section 302 IPC, which would then be the main charge and not an alternative charge as is erroneously assumed in some quarters. If the main charge of murder is not proved against the accused at the trial, the court can look into the evidence to determine whether the alternative charge of dowry death punishable under section 304-B is established. The ingredients constituting the two offences are different, thereby demanding appreciation of evidence from the perspective relevant to such ingredients. Jasvinder Saini and others v. State, (2013) 7 SCC 256.