MADURAI: In a significant decision, the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) has held that those granted the “benefit of doubt” and acquitted in criminal cases in trial courts, cannot file a judicial appeal to convert it into a case of “honourable acquittal” for the purpose of entering uniformed services such as police department.
Previously a full bench of the court had ruled that only those “honorably” acquitted in criminal cases can join the police department or any other government service. Subsequently, many persons approached the High Court seeking to convert cases of acquittal due to benefit of doubt into one of “honourable acquittal.”
In the latest order, a division bench comprising Justices V Ramasubramanian and V M Velumani had dealt with two crucial questions. One, whether the trial court can use the word “acquittal” without any “adjectives” and two, whether the High Court can, on an appeal, alter or amend the trial court’s order of “acquittal” into one of “honourable” acquittal.
The bench observed: “If we have a careful look at the history of this development, namely that of acquitted persons approaching this court for an order of honourable acquittal, we would find that this invention by lawyers, has as its mother, an amendment introduced to Rule 14(b) of the Tamil Nadu Police Subordinate Rules. (hereinafter referred to as ‘Rule’).” In its order, the bench said, legally, a trial court can use expressions such as “benefit of doubt” and “beyond reasonable doubt,” though Sections 232, 235, 248 and 255 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) use only a simple expression namely “acquittal” without any adjectives. But, these adjectives or expressions such as “benefit of doubt” and “beyond reasonable doubt” will have no meaning insofar as criminal jurisprudence is concerned.