Courts must ensure accused and victims' rights: HC

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New Delhi, Oct 10 (UNI) The Supreme Court has ruled that a court while deciding a criminal case must be equally concerned with the rights of an accused as well as of the victim.

A bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and Mukundakam Sharma while upholding a judgement of Madras High Court setting aside the trial court judgement of acquittal in an attempt to murder case, held that ''an appellate court has full and unsettled power to review, reappreciate and reconsider the evidence upon which the order of acquittal was found.'' The apex court while directing the two appellants Murugan and another to surrender before the authorities to serve the remaining sentence, also noticed ''the judicial instrument as a public accountability.

If unmerited acquittal become general, they tend to lead to a cynical disregard of the law and this in turn leads to a public demand for harsher legal presumptions against entitled persons and more severe punishment of those who are found guilty.

Thus too frequent acquittal of the guilty may lead to a ferocious penal law, eventually eroding the judicial protection of guiltless.'' The apex court also ruled, ''a miscarriage of justice which might arrive from the acquittal of the guilty is no less than from the conviction of an innocent''.

Justice Pasayat, while writing the 43-page judgement for the bench, also held ''doubts would be called reasonable if they are free from zest for abstract speculation.

Law can not afford any favourite other than truth.

While the protection given by the criminal process to the accused person is not to be eroded, at the same time, uninformed legitimisation of trivialities would make a mockery of administration of criminal justice.'' The two were sentenced to four years imprisonment with a fine of Rs 5000 each for inflicting nine grievous injuries on the victim following a quarrel between two women over taking water from the common water pipe in 1989.

UNI SC PD RP DS1612

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