Manipur Administration Vs. Thokchom,
Bira Singh  INSC 70 (11 March 1964)
11/03/1964 AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA AYYANGAR,
N. RAJAGOPALA GAJENDRAGADKAR, P.B. (CJ) WANCHOO, K.N.
GUPTA, K.C. DAS SHAH, J.C.
CITATION: 1965 AIR 87 1964 SCR (7) 123
D 1968 SC1281 (5,8) R 1969 SC 961 (7) F 1970
SC 771 (3,10) R 1970 SC1381 (5) RF 1971 SC 458 (9) R 1974 SC 28 (4) D 1974
SC1256 (14) R 1975 SC 856 (20)
Criminal Trial-Accused acquitted in previous
trial-On same facts a subsequent trial initiated-Subsequent court whether
debarred from receiving the same evidence on the principle of
issue-estoppel-Code of Criminal Procedure 1898, (Act 5 of 1898) s. 403.
In the present case. the trial court held the
respondent guilty of the offences under ss. 333, 323 and 440 all read with s.
149, Indian Penal Code. It was alleged by the prosecution that 'the respondent
Bira Singh was a member of the unlawful assembly which was formed between 3 and
on 25th April 1960, in contravention of the
promulgation of the order under s. 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
As a member of the mob he was alleged to have
pelted Stones at police officers. The respondent pleaded, in his defence that
the present trial was barred by s. 403, Criminal Procedure Code by reason of
the acquittal of the accused under s. 188, Indian Penal Code on July 30, 1960.
The Trial court did not accept his defence and convicted him. On appeal, the
Judicial Commissioner accepted the defence of the respondent and acquitted him
on the bases of the decision of this court in Pritam Singh v. State of Punjab.
Before the trial of the present case, a
complaint was filed against the respondent on May 12, 1960 under s. 188 I.P.C.
In that complaint the District Magistrate
alleged that the respondent had disobeyed the order passed under s. 144 by
forming himself alongwith other persons into an unlawful assembly between the
hours of 3 and 5 p.m. on April 25, 1960. In that case the trial court convicted
him of the offence charged and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for 6
months. On appeal the Sessions Judge by his judgment dated July 30, 1960
acquitted the respondent, on the ground that the prosecution had failed to
establish that the respondent was present at the place and at the time where
the occurrence took place. This acquittal was confirmed by the Judicial
Held-Sub-ss. (1) to (3) of s. 403 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure deal with the trial of an accused for an offence and his
conviction there for. The question raised for decision in Pritam Singh's case
however was different and was whether where an issue of fact has been tried by
a competent court on a former occasion and a finding has been reached in favour
of an accused, such a finding would constitute an estoppel or res judicata
against the prosecution not as a bar to the trial and conviction of the accused
for a different or distinct offence but as precluding the reception of evidence
to disturb that finding of fact when the accused is tried subsequently even for
a different offence which might be permitted by the terms of s. 403 (2).
It would not be correct to say that the
principle underlying in Sambasivan's case was dissented from in R. v. Connelly.
Besides, it should be pointed out that the
principle 124 underlying the decision in Pritam Singh's case did come up for
consideration before this Court on several occasions, but it was never
dissented from though in some of them it was distinguished on facts.
Pritam Singh v. State of Punjab, A.I.R. 1956,
S.C. 415, R.
v. Connelly, (1963) 3 All E.R. 510 and
Sambasivam v. Public Prosecutor, Federation of Malaya, 1950 A.C. 458, relied
Gurcharan Singh v. State of Punjab, A.I.R.,
1963 S. C. 340, referred to.
State of Bombay v. S. L. Apte,  3
S.C.R. 107, Banwari Godara v. The State of Rajasthan, Cr. A. No. 141 of 1960
dated February 7, 1961, Mohinder Singh v. State of Punjab, A.I.R. 1965 S.C. 79,
Kharkan v. The State of Uttar Pradesh, A.I.R. 1965 S.C. 83, Yusofalli mulla v.
The King. 76 I.A.
158, referred to.
(ii) The rule of issue-estoppel does not
prevent the trial of an offence as does author fois acquit but only precludes
evidence being led to prove a fact in issue as regards which evidence had
already been led and a specific finding recorded at an earlier criminal trial
before a court of competent jurisdiction.
The rule of issue-estoppel is not the same as
the plea of double jeopardy or autre fois acquit is also clear from the
statement of the law by Lord Mac Dermott in Sambasivam's case.
(iii) It is clear that s. 403 of the Criminal
Procedure Code does not preclude the applicability of this rule of
issue-estoppel. The rule being one which is in accord with sound principle and
supported by high authority and there being a decision of this court in Pritam
Singh's case which has accepted it as a proper one to be adopted, there is no
reason for discarding it.
The Queen v. Ollis, (1900) 2 Q.B. 758. The
King v. Wilkes, 77 C.L.R. 511, Marz v. The Queen, 96 C.L.R. 62 and Manickchand
Agarwall v. The State, A.I.R. 1952 Cal. 730 relied on.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 6 of 1962. Appeal by special leave from the judgment and order dated
June 1, 1961 of the Judicial Commissioner's Court for Manipur in Criminal
Appeal Case No. 7 of 1961.
O. P. Rana and R. N. Sachthey, for the
S. C. Agarwal, for the respondent.
March 11, 1964. The judgment of the Court was
delivered by AYYANGAR, J.-This appeal which comes before us by special leave is
directed against the judgment and order of the Judicial Commissioner of Manipur
acquitting the respondent and setting aside the conviction and sentence passed
against him by the learned Sessions Judge.
This appeal was originally heard before a
Bench of two Judges but has been directed to be placed before this Bench by
reason of the learned Counsel for the appellant seeking 125 to question the
correctness of the judgment of this Court in the case of Pritam Singh v. The
State of Punjab(1) in view of the decision of the English Court of Criminal
Appeal in R. v. Connelly(2) and the subsequent decision of this Court in
Gurcharan Singh v. State of Punjab(3).
The facts giving rise to the appeal are in
brief as follows:There was an agitation by certain political parties and groups
in Manipur in April, 1960 for establishing responsible Government in the
Manipur area. The agitation took the form of picketing of Government offices
and the residences of Government servants and blocking roads in order to
paralyse the administration. After this form of agitation continued for some
time, the District Magistrate of Manipur promulgated orders under s. 144,
Criminal Procedure Code on the morning of April 25, 1960 banning public
meetings and processions and these orders were proclaimed and communicated to
the public through loudspeakers. Notwithstanding this order, crowds continued
to collect and move on the streets shouting slogans. Bira Singh-the respondent-was
said to have been leading this mob. A lathi charge by the police took place but
it is stated that because of this the crowd moved a little away and began to
pelt stones. The crowd was thereupon directed to disperse, its attention being
drawn to the promulgation of the order under s. 144, Criminal Procedure Code
and to the fact that the gathering in a public place in violation of the order
made it an unlawful assembly; but this command was not heeded and the
stone-throwing continued. There was firing by the police which resulted in
injuries to certain persons including some of the police personnel. The first information
report in regard to the incident and the offences committed during its course
was lodged at the Imphal Police station at about 7 p.m. that day in which the
informant specified the name of the respondent-Bira Singh as the leader of this
mob. On this a case was registered under ss. 114/149/332/342 and 307 of the
Indian Penal Code and s. 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, and a few days
later the respondent was arrested. Charges were framed against the respondent
who was placed before the Magistrate and the charge sheet stated that the
respondent was in the crowd between 3 and 5 p.m. on that day, that the crowd
was an unlawful assembly, that he was among those who pelted stones which
caused grievous hurt to one person and simple hurt to others and also caused
damage to the Inter-State Police Wireless Station. Along with (1) A.I.R. 1956
( 2)  3 All E.R. 510.
(3) A.I.R. 1963 S.C. 340.
126 the respondent certain others were
included as accused but we are now concerned only with the respondent. The
learned Sessions Judge convicted all of them of the offences with which they
were charged and sentenced them to varying terms of imprisonment but into the
details of these it is not necessary to enter.
The question of law that arises in this case
is by reason of a prior prosecution of the respondent in which he was
acquitted. That prosecution was founded on a complaint against him filed on May
12, 1960 under s. 188, Indian Penal Code in connection with his participation
is a member of the same crowd in regard to which the charge which is the subject
matter of the present proceedings is concerned. In that complaint the District
Magistrate alleged that the respondent had disobeyed the order passed under s.
144 by forming himself along with 2,000 other persons into an unlawful assembly
between the hours of 3 and 5 p.m. on April 25, 1960 by shouting slogans and
pelting stones at police officers and this was stated to be oil the road in
front of the Police Wireless station. This complaint by the District Magistrate
was registered and taken cognizance of by the Magistrate. The respondent
pleaded in his defence that he was not present at the scene of the occurrence
at all and that he had been falsely implicated by the police. The Magistrate
rejected the defence and accepting the prosecution case that the respondent was
present as the head of the mob on that occasion convicted him of the offence
charged and sentenced him by his order dated July 8, 1960 to rigorous
imprisonment for six months. Ten days thereafter on July 18, 1960 the charge
sheet in the present case was filed.
During the pendency of the prosecution from
which the present appeal arises the respondent appealed to the learned Sessions
judge against his conviction by the Magistrate on the charge under s. 188,
Indian Penal Code. The learned Sessions Judge allowed the appeal holding that
the prosecution had not established that the respondent was present at the
place and at the time where the occurrence took place at which he was said by the
prosecution to have been present or that he disobeyed the order under s. 144,
Criminal Procedure Code. In the course of his judgment delivered on July 30,
1960 the learned Sessions Judge observed after referring to the delay in the
filing of the complaint after the occurrence:
"This delay: in the filing of the
complaint and in the naming of the appellant.................. throws considerable
doubt on the presence of the appellant among the agitators on 25-460...............
if the P. Ws. did not know the appellant from before no 127 reliance can be
placed on their identification of the appellant during the trial because that
identification was not tested in a test identification parade. This also
confirms my suspicion that the appellant might not have been present in the
incident of 25-460......... The important position which the appellant had in
organising the agitation in my opinion, afforded sufficient motive for the
P.Ws. to come to a conclusion that the appellant might have been present in the
agitation. But that erroneous impression on conclusion would not prove the
presence of the appellant among the agitators on 25-460......... For reasons
given above the appeal is allowed and the conviction and sentence of the
appellant under s. 188 I.P.C. are set aside and he is acquitted." This
acquittal was confirmed by the Judicial Commissioner on April 29, 1961.
Meanwhile, to proceed with the narrative of the proceedings which has given
rise to the present appeal, the learned Magistrate committed the respondent and
5 others to take their trial before the Sessions Judge, Manipur on a charge in
respect of the offences we have set out earlier.
Before the learned Sessions Judge an
objection was raised on behalf of the respondent that the trial was barred by
s. 403, Criminal Procedure Code by reason of the acquittal of the accused under
s. 188, Indian Penal Code on July 30, 1960. The learned Sessions Judge,
however, held, that the terms of the section were not satisfied, in that the
ingredients of the two offences with which the accused was charged in the two
prosecutions were different and rejected that submission. On the evidence
adduced before him be found that it had been established to his satisfaction
that the respondent as well as the others were present at the scene of the
occurrence and held the accused guilty of the offences under ss. 333, 323 and
440 all read with s. 149, Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to 4 years R.I.
All the six accused filed appeals against their conviction and sentences before
the Judicial Commissioner, Manipur and the learned Judicial Commissioner after
making some variations in the sentences as regards certain of the accused
directed the acquittal of the respondent on the ground that the finding of fact
recorded by the learned Sessions Judge in his trial for the offence under s.
188, Indian Penal Code that he was not present at the scene of the occurrence
on April 25, 1960 between the hours of 3 and 5 p.m. was final and conclusive
and binding upon the prosecution and that no evidence could be led to 128
establish a contrary state of affairs in the present proceedings. In so holding
the learned the Judicial Commissioner followed the decision of this Court in
Pritam Singh v. State of Punjab(1) and certain other decisions and held that
the principle of res judicata applicable to criminal proceedings was not
confined to cases falling within the bar of s. 403, Criminal Procedure Code but
was of wider application. It is the correctness of this view of the law that
calls for consideration in this appeal.
Before referring to the decision of this
Court in Pritam Singh v. State of Punjab(1) it would be convenient to refer to
and put aside one point for clearing the ground. Section 403, Criminal
Procedure Code embodies in statutory form the accepted English rule of autre
fois acquit. This section runs:
"403 (1) A person who has been once
tried by a Court of competent jurisdiction for an offence and convicted or
acquitted of such offence shall, while such conviction or acquittal remains in
force, not be liable to be tried again for the same offence, nor on the same
facts for any offence for which a different charge from the one made against
him might have been made under s. 236, or for which he might have been
convicted under section 237.
(2) A person acquitted or convicted of any
offence may be afterwards tried for any distinct offence for which a separate
charge might have been made against him on the former trial under section 235,
(3) A person convicted of any offence
constituted by any act causing consequences which, together with such act,
constituted a different offence from that of which he was convicted may be
afterwards tried for such last mentioned offence, if the consequences had not
happened, or were not known to the Court to have happened, at the time when he
(4) A person acquitted or convicted of any
offence constituted by any acts may, notwithstanding such acquittal or
conviction, be subsequently charged with, and tried for, any other offence
constituted by the same acts which he may have committed if the Court by which
he was first tried was not competent to try the offence with which he is
(1) A.T.R. 1956 S.C. 415.
(5) Nothing in this section shall affect the
provisions of section 26 of the General Clauses Act, 1897, or section 188 of
129 Explanation-The dismissal of a complaint,
the stopping of proceedings under section 249, the discharge of the accused or
any entry made upon a charge under section 273, is not an acquittal for the
purposes of this section." Section 26 of the General Clauses Act which is
referred to in s. 403 enacts:
"26. Where an act or omission
constitutes an offence under two or more enactments, then the offender shall be
liable to be prosecuted and punished under either or any of those enactments,
but shall not be liable to be punished twice for the same offence." We
might also, in this connection, refer to Art. 20(2) of the Constitution since
it makes provision for a bar against a second prosecution in an analogous case.
That provision reads:
"20(2). No person shall be prosecuted
and punished for the same offence more than once." As has been pointed out
by this Court in State of Bombay v.
S. L. Apte(1), both in the case of Art. 20(2)
of the Constitution as well as s. 26 of the General Clauses Act to operate as a
bar the second prosecution and the consequential punishment there under, must
be for "same offence" i.e., an offence whose ingredients are the
It has been pointed out in the same decision
that the V Amendment of the American Constitution which provides that no person
shall be subject, for the same offence, to be twice put in jeopardy of life or
limb, proceeds on the same principle.
It is common ground that the respondent
cannot bring his case within the provisions of sub-s. (1) of s. 403 and it was
also common ground that the trial of the respondent would be permitted by
sub-s. (2). It should, however, be noticed that sub-ss. (1) to (3) of this
section deal with the trial of an accused for an offence and his conviction
there for. The question raised for decision in Pritam Singh's(2) case however
was different and was whether where an issue of fact has been tried by a
competent court on a former occasion and a finding has been reached in favour
of an accused, such a finding would constitute an estoppel or res judicata
against the prosecution not as a bar to the trial and conviction of the accused
for a different or distinct offence but as (1)  3 S.C.R. 107. (2) A.I.R.
1956 S.C. 415.
L/P(D)1SCI-5 130 precluding the reception of
evidence to disturb that finding of fact when the accused is tried subsequently
even for a different offence which might be permitted by the terms of s.
As Pritam Singh's(1) case was based wholly on
the decision of the Privy Council in Sambasivam v. Public Prosecutor,
Federation of Malaya(2) it would be necessary to examine the basis of the
latter decision. The appellant-an Indian Tamil-was travelling on foot in the
company of two Chinese.
They met a party of three Malays. A fight
ensued between the two groups in the course of which one of the Chinese was
killed. The Malays alleged that they had been fired on by the Chinese and that
the appellant had with him a revolver which he had held out and pointed at one
of them. In connection with this incident the appellant was charged with
carrying a fire-arm and being in possession of ten rounds of ammunition. Two
charges were framed against the appellant:
(1) of carrying a fire-arm, and (2) of being
in possession of ammunition. He was acquitted of the second charge of being in
possession of ammunition and that acquittal became final. He was, later
convicted of the offence of carrying a fire-arm and the appeal before the Privy
Council related to the legality of this conviction. Diverse objections
branching into several fields of law were raised before the Privy Council in
support of the appeal but what is, however, of relevance now, is the one which
related to the admissibility of the evidence of the prosecution witnesses who
spoke of the revolver carried by the appellant being loaded with bullets and of
the appellant carrying four more bullets in a bag. Their Lordships rejected all
the other contentions raised on behalf of the appellant but allowed the appeal
on the ground that this evidence regarding the revolver being loaded and of the
appellant carrying a bag containing some bullets was inadmissible in law. In
dealing with this Lord Mac Dermott speaking for the Board said:
"The effect of a verdict of acquittal
pronounced by a competent court on a lawful charge and after a lawful trial is
not completely stated by saying that the person acquitted cannot be tried again
for the same offence. To that it must be added that the verdict is binding and
conclusive in all subsequent proceedings between the parties to the
adjudication." After pointing out that the prosecution witnesses were
permitted to depose regarding the possession of ammunition by the appellant and
that it was not possible to exclude the (1) A.I.R. 1956 S.C. 415.
(2)  A.C. 458.
131 effect of this evidence on the
prosecution case, their Lordships held that the appellant was seriously
prejudiced by the reception of this evidence and therefore allowed the appeal
and directed his acquittal. The point in regard to which the observations in
Sambasivam's(1) case was applied by this Court related to the use of the
recovery of a revolver from the accused to sustain his conviction of the
offence of murder. Previous to the prosecution for an offence under s. 302,
Indian Penal Code the appellant before this Court had been tried before the
Additional Sessions Judge, Faridpur under s. 19(f) of the Indian Arms Act `of
an offence for possession of that revolver and had been acquitted. This Court
speaking through Bhagwati, J.
extracted the observations we have quoted
from the judgment of Lord MacDermott and pointed out that on the basis of this
decision the evidence relating to the recovery of the revolver from the accused
should have been excluded.
It was not contended by learned Counsel for
the appellant that if the principle laid down by this decision was correct, the
acquittal of the respondent by the learned Judicial Commissioner by the order
now under appeal was erroneous. The argument, however, was that the
observations in Pritam Singh's(2) case required reconsideration. This
submission was rested on two separate lines of reasoning:
(1) That the rule in Sambasivam's(1) case on
which Pritam Singh IS (2) case was based had been dissented from by the English
Court of Criminal Appeal in R. v. Connelly(3) and that, similarly that
principle had been departed from by this Court in Grcharan Singh v. State of
Punjab(4). (2) That the principle of Common law which was applied by the Privy
Council in Sambasivam's(1) case could have no application in a jurisdiction
like ours where the principle of autre fois acquit is covered by a statutory
provision framed on the lines of s. 403 occurring in a Code which is
As regards the first ground, it must be
pointed out that learned Counsel for the State admitted that there was nothing
a Gurcharan Singh's(4) case which militated against the acceptance of the rule
laid down in Pritam Singh's (2) case.
Coming next to the point made regarding the
decision of the English Court of Criminal Appeal in R. v. Connelly(3), we
should make it clear that the decisions of the English Courts being merely of
persuasive authority, decisions of such a (1)  A.C. 458.
(2)  3 All E.R. 510 (3) A.I.R. 1956
(4) A.I.R. 1963 S.C. 340.
L/P(D)1 SCI--5(a) 132 court even if at
variance with one of this Court do not by themselves justify an application to
reconsider an earlier decision of this Court. Besides, a close examination of the
judgment in R. v. Connelly(1) through which learned Counsel for the State has
taken us, does not disclose any dissent from the principle stated by Lord
MacDermott. The entire case before the Court turned upon whether there had been
a specific finding on an issue of fact-an issue directly raised regarding an
ingredient of the offence charged at the later trial, when the accused was
acquitted by the Court of Criminal Appeal in the former proceeding. Except that
the Court did not expressly rule that the principle of issueestoppel applied in
England, no exception was taken to its soundness and the decision proceeded on
the basis of the facts not justifying the application of the principle, the
conditions not being fulfilled. Learned Counsel is, therefore, not well-founded
in his submission that the principle underlying Sambasivam's(2) case was
dissented from in R. v. Connelly(1). Besides, it should be pointed out that the
principle underlying the decision in Pritam Singh's(3) case did come up for
consideration before this Court on several occasions, but it was never
dissented from though in some of them it was distinguished on facts. (See
Banwari Godara v. The State of Rajasthan(4), Mohinder Singh v. State of
Punjab(5) and Kharkan v. The State of Uttar Pradesh(6).
These two decisions in R. v. Connelly(1) and
Gurcharan Singh v. State of Punjab(7) being out of the way, we shall address
ourselves to the question as to whether what is termed "issue
estoppel" which has been held by this Court in Pritam Singh's(3) case to
be applicable to criminal proceedings is excluded by reason of the provisions
of the Criminal Procedure Code. For this purpose learned Counsel invited our
attention to s. 5(1) which enacts:
"All offences under the Indian Penal
Code shall be investigated, inquired into, tried, otherwise dealt with
according to the provisions hereinafter contained." This, however, in our
opinion, does not afford any assistance to the argument because Pritam
Singh's(3) case did not introduce any variation in the Code as regards either
 3 All E.R. 510.
 A.C. 458.
(3) A.I.R. 1956 S.C. 415.
(4) G.A. No. 141 of 1960, d/February 7, 1961.
(5) A.I.R. 1965 S.C. 79.
(6) A.I.R. 1965 S.C. 83.
(7) A.I.R. 1963 S.C. 340.
133 investigation, enquiry or trial. As we have
pointed out earlier, issue-estoppel does not prevent the trial of any offence
as does autre fois acquit but only precludes evidence being led to prove a fact
in issue as regards which evidence has already been led and a specific finding
recorded at an earlier criminal trial before a court of competent jurisdiction.
Learned Counsel next drew our attention to the observations of the Privy
Council in Yusofalli Mulla v. The King(1) at page 169 where the following
"The last point urged by Mr. Page was
that even if the case did not fall within the terms of s. 403 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure the appellant could nonetheless rely on the common law rule
that no man should be placed twice in jeopardy." After stating that even
for the application of the Common Law rule of double jeopardy the earlier order
had to be by a court competent to pass a valid order of acquittal or conviction
the judgment proceeded:
"This argument therefore fails on the
facts, and it is not necessary for their Lordships to consider whether s. 403
of the Code of Criminal Procedure constitutes a complete code in India on the
subject of autre fois acquit and autre fois convict, or whether in a proper
case the common law can be called in aid to supplement the provisions of the
section." As we have pointed out, we are not now concerned with any
extension of the principle of autre fois acquit but as to the admissibility of
evidence which is designed to upset a finding of fact recorded by a competent
court at a previous trial. The reasoning of Lord MacDermott in Sambasivam's(2)
case was not the first occasion when this rule as to issueestoppel in a
criminal trial was formulated or given effect to. That it is not the same as
the plea of double jeopardy or autre fois acquit is also clear from the
statement of the law by Lord MacDermott himself. The distinction between autre
fois acquit and the objection to the reception of evidence to prove an
identical fact which has been the subject of an earlier finding between the
parties is brought out in the following passage from the judgment of Wright, J.
in The Queen v. Ollis(3):
"The real question is whether this
relevant evidence of the false pretence on July 5 or 6 ought to have been
excluded on the ground that it was part of (1) 176 I.A. 158. ( 2 )  A.C.
(3) (1900) 2 Q.B. 758, 768-769.
134 the evidence given for the prosecution at
the former trial, at which the prisoner was charged with having obtained money
from Ramsey on that false pretence, and was acquitted of that charge." The
learned Judge then went on to point out that if the acquittal at the first
trial was based on the negativing of this fact the evidence would be
inadmissible but if that acquittal was based on other circumstances the
evidence would be admissible. That is why he said:
"An objection in the nature of a plea of
"autre fois acquit" cannot of course be maintained, because on either
indictment the prisoner could not have been convicted of the offences, or any of
them, which were alleged in the other indictment. Nor can there be an estoppel of
record or quasi of record, unless it appears by record of itself, or as explained
by proper evidence, that the same point was determined on the first trial which
was in issue on the second trial." Speaking of this type of estoppel Dixon,
J. said in The King v. Wilkes(1):
"Whilst there is not a great deal of authority
upon the subject, it appears to me that there is nothing wrong in the view that
there is an issue estoppel, if it appears by record of itself or as explained by
proper evidence, that the same point was determined in favour of a prisoner in a
previous criminal trial which is brought in issue on a second criminal trial of
the same prisoner. That seems to be implied in the language used by Wright, J. in
R. v. Ollis which in effect I have adopted in the foregoing statement...........
There must be a prior proceeding determined against the Crown necessarily involving
an issue which again arises in a subsequent proceeding by the Crown against the
same prisoner. The allegation of the Crown in the subsequent proceeding must itself
be inconsistent with the acquittal of the prisoner in the previous proceeding. But
if such a condition of affairs arises I see no reason why the ordinary rules of
issue-estoppel should not apply. Such rules are not to be confused with those of
res judicata, which in criminal proceedings are expressed in the pleas of autre
fois acquit and autre fois convict.
They are pleas which are (1) C.L.R. 511 at pp.
135 concerned with the judicial determination
of an alleged criminal liability and in the case of conviction with the substitution
of a new liability. Issue-estoppel is concerned with the judicial establishment
of a proposition of law or fact between parties. It depends upon well-known doctrines
which control the relitigation of issues which are settled by prior litigation."
This decision was rendered in 1948. The matter was the subject of consideration
by the High Court of Australia after the decision in Sambasivam's(1) case in Marz
v. The Queen (2) . The question concerned the validity of a conviction for rape
after the accused had been acquitted on the charge of murdering the woman during
the commission of the act. In an unanimous judgment by which the appeal of the accused
was allowed, the court said:
"The Crown is as much precluded by an estoppel
by judgment in criminal proceedings as is a subject in civil proceedings.........
The law which gives effect to issue-estoppels is not concerned with the correctness
or incorrectness of the finding which amounts to an estoppel, still less with the
process of reasoning by which the finding was reached in fact............ It is
enough that an issue or issues have been distinctly raised or found.
Once that is done, then, so long as the finding
stands, if there be any subsequent litigation between the same parties, no allegations
legally inconsistent with the finding may be made by one of them against the other."
It is, therefore, clear that s. 403 of the Criminal Procedure Code does not preclude
the applicability of this rule of issue-estoppel. The rule being one which is in
accord with sound principle and supported by high authority and there being a decision
of this Court which has accepted it as a proper one to be adopted, we do not see
any reason for discarding it. We might also point out that even before the decision
of this Court this rule was applied by some of the High Courts and by way of illustration
we might refer to the decision of Harries, C. J. in Manickchand Agarwala v. The
State(3). Before parting, we think it proper to make one observation. The question
has sometimes been mooted as to whether the same principle of issue-estoppel could
be raised (1)  A.C. 458. (2) 96 C.L.R. 62, 68-69.
(3) A.I.R. 1952 Cal. 730.
136 against an accused, the argument against its
application being that the prosecution cannot succeed unless it proves to the, satisfaction
of the Court trying the accused by evidence led before it that he is guilty of the
offence charged. We prefer to express no opinion on this question since it does
not arise for examination.
As stated earlier, if Pritam Singh's(1) case was
rightly decided, it was conceded that the decision of the Judicial Commissioner
The appeal, therefore, fails and is dismissed.
Appeal dismissed (1) A.I.R. 1956 S.C. 415.