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Apex Court Not To Interfere Under Article 136 With The Findings Of The High Court If Two Plausible Views Are Possible

Sometimes there are two plausible views possible on the conclusions that can be drawn from facts on the record and the High Court prefers to go by one of the views, for reasons appealing to it, the Apex Court normally in exercise of its discretionary jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution does not interfere with the findings of the High Court. 

It would be trite to refer to Pritam Singh v.The State 1950 SCR 453 wherein the Apex Court emphasized on the discretionary powers of the Apex Court thus:

"On a careful examination of Article 136 along with the preceding article, it seems clear that the wide discretionary power with which this Court is invested under is to be exercised sparingly and in exceptional cases only, and as far as possible a more or less uniform standard should be adopted in granting special leave in the wide range of matters which can come up before it under this article." 

It would be apposite to cite Tirupati Balaji Developers Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Bihar (2004) 5 SCC 1 wherein the Apex Court elucidated the discretionary power under Article 136 of the Constitution thus:

"It is Article 136 which is worded in the widest possible terms. A plenary jurisdiction exercisable on assuming appellate jurisdiction subject to grant of special leave against any kind of judgment or order made by any Court or Tribunal and in any cause or matter has been embodied and vested in the Supreme Court. It is an extraordinary jurisdiction vested by the Constitution in the Court with implicit trust and faith and extraordinary care and caution has to be observed in the exercise of this jurisdiction. Article 136 does not confer a right of appeal on a party but vests a vast discretion in the Supreme Court meant to be exercised by the considerations of justice, call of duty and eradicating injustice."

It is relevant to refer to Jamshed Hormusji Wadia v. Board of Trustees, Port of Mumbai (2004) 3 SCC 214 wherein the Apex Court on the powers conferred under Article 136 of the Constitution observed thus:
 
"The discretionary power of the Supreme Court is plenary in the sense that there are no words in Article 136 itself qualifying that power. The very conferment of the discretionary power defies any attempt at exhaustive definition of such power. The power is permitted to be invoked not in a routine fashion but in very exceptional circumstances as when a question of law of general public importance arises or a decision sought to be impugned before the Supreme Court shocks the conscience. This overriding and exceptional power has been vested in the Supreme Court to be exercised sparingly and only in furtherance of the cause of justice in the Supreme Court in exceptional cases only when special circumstances are shown to exist." 

Thus, from the plain reading of Article 136 of the Constitution and the declarations of the Apex Court in this regard, referred to above, the power conferred by the said Article is discretionary and is to be used sparingly. 
 
The Apex Court in a catena of cases declined to interfere with the order of the High Court in exercise of its power under Article 136 of the Constitution holding that even if two views are possible, the view taken by the High Court being a plausible one, it would not call for intervention by the Apex Court. The Apex Court in Union of India v. Gangadhar Narsingdas Agarwal & Anr (1997) 10 SCC 305 held thus:

"We, therefore, do not think that the High Court committed any mistake in the view it took. Even if two views were possible the view taken by the High Court being a plausible one would not call for intervention by this Court."

The Apex Court in the case of Murugesan & Ors. v/s State through Inspector of Police (2012) 10 SCC 383 held that the finding recorded by the trial court is a possible view having regard to evidence on record and even   if   other   view   is   possible,   same   is   no   ground   to   reverse   the acquittal and to convict the accused. The Court held thus:

9. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, we are of the view that the trial court's judgment is more than just a possible view for arriving at the conclusion of acquittal, and that it would not be safe to convict seventeen persons accused of the crime of murder i.e. under Section 302 read with Section 149 of the Penal Code."

The Apex Court is loathe to interfere under Article 136 where it appears that a reasonable view has been taken although the other view was also plausible. In Taherakhatoon (D) By Lrs. v. Salambin Mohammad (1999) 2 SCC 635, the Apex Court observed as follows:

"In view of the above decisions, even though we are now dealing with the appeal after grant of special leave, we are not bound to go into merits and even if we do so and declare the law or point out the error- still we may not interfere if the justice of the case on facts does not require interference or if we feel that the relief could be moulded in a different fashion."

In Ramabhupala Reddy and Ors. v. The State of Andhra Pradesh A.I.R. 1971 S.C. 460 same thought was expressed by saying : "if two reasonable conclusions, can be reached on the basis of the evidence on record, the appellate court should not disturb the findings of the trial court." 

It is most relevant to refer to State of U.P. v. Jashoda Nandan Gupta & Ors., AIR 1974 SC 753 (757) wherein it was observed:

".....as a self-made rule of practice, this Court does not interfere with the findings of fact reached by the High Court, unless exceptional and grave circumstances exist, or forms of legal process have been disregarded or otherwise there has been a gross miscarriage of justice. Where the judgment which is the subject of appeal under that Article, is one of acquittal, this Court will not interfere with the same in the exercise of its overriding jurisdiction unless that judgment is clearly unreasonable, or perverse or manifestly illegal or grossly unjust. Therefore, if in the nicely balancing probabilities of a case, two views of the evidence- one indicating acquittal and the other conviction- were reasonably possible, this Court would not disturb the High Court's order of acquittal."

In State of Punjab v. Sucha Singh & Ors., [1974] AIR SC 343 the Apex Court said:

"..... In our opinion, it was for the High Court to appraise the evidence which was adduced in this case. In the absence of any infirmity in the appraisement of the evidence by the High Court, we find no cogent grounds to reappraise the evidence. The fact that on the evidence adduced, a different view could also have been taken in the matter, would not induce us to interfere with the judgment of the High Court. The appeal fails and is dismissed."

In State of A.P. v. P. Anjaneyulu, AIR 1982 SC 1598 it was held by the Apex Court thus:

".......The question is one of appreciation of evidence and the proposed appeal does not raise any substantial question of law. Apart from that we do not ordinarily entertain appeals against orders of acquittal if two views of the evidence are possible ........".

Written By: Inder Chand Jain
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 8279945021

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