State of Himachal
Pradesh Vs. Shish Ram  INSC 1141 (15 July 2008)
JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. OF 2008 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 4484 of
2006) State of Himachal Pradesh ..Appellant Versus Shish Ram ..Respondent
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in this appeal is to the judgment of the Division Bench of the Himachal Pradesh
High Court dismissing the application filed by the appellant-State for grant of
leave to file appeal against the judgment of acquittal passed by the Trial
Court i.e. learned Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kandaghat, Camp at
Solan, H.P. in Criminal case no.133/2 of 02/95. Respondent faced trial for
alleged commission of offences punishable under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471
of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short the `IPC').
various points were urged in support of the appeal, the primary stand was that
by non-reasoned order the application was disposed of.
is no appearance on behalf of respondent in spite of the service of notice.
order which is impugned in the present appeal reads as follows:
introduce clarity in an order. On plainest consideration of justice, the High
Court ought to have set forth its reasons, howsoever brief, in its order
indicative of an application of its mind, all the more when its order is
amenable to further avenue of challenge. The absence of reasons has rendered
the High Court's judgment not sustainable. Even in respect of administrative
orders Lord Denning M.R. in Breen v. Amalgamated Engineering Union (1971 (1)
All E.R. 1148) observed "The giving of reasons is one of the fundamentals
of good administration". In Alexander Machinery (Dudley) Ltd. v. Crabtree
(1974 LCR 120) it was observed: "Failure to give reasons amounts to denial
of justice". Reasons are live links between the mind of the decision taker
to the controversy in question and the decision or conclusion arrived at".
Reasons substitute subjectivity by objectivity. The emphasis on recording
reasons is that if the decision reveals the "inscrutable face of the
sphinx", it can, by its silence, render it virtually impossible for the
Courts to perform their appellate function or exercise the power of judicial
review in adjudging the validity of the decision. Right to reason is an
indispensable part of a sound judicial system, reasons at least sufficient to
indicate an application of mind to the matter before Court. Another rationale
is that the affected party can know why the decision has gone against him. One
of the salutary requirements of natural justice is spelling out reasons for the
order made, in other words, a speaking out.
face of a sphinx" is ordinarily incongruous with a judicial or
State of Punjab vs. Bhag Singh (2004 (1) SCC 547), it was observed as follows:
"4. According to
learned counsel for the appellant-State it was imperative on the High Court to
indicate reasons as to why the prayer for grant of leave was found untenable.
In the absence of any such reasons the order of the High Court is indefensible.
Section 378 (3) of the Code deals with the power of the High Court to grant
leave in case of acquittal. Section 378 (1) and (3) of the Code reads as
"378(1) Save as
otherwise provided in sub-section (2) and subject to the provisions of sub-
section (3) and (5), the State Government may, in any case, direct the Public
Prosecutor to present an appeal to the High Court from an original or appellate
order of acquittal passed by any Court other than a High Court or an order of
acquittal passed by the Court of Session in revision.
xx xx xx (3) No
appeal under sub- section (1) or sub-section (2) shall be entertained except
with the leave of the High Court".
5. The trial Court
was required to carefully appraise the entire evidence and then come to a
conclusion. If the trial Court was at lapse in this regard the High Court was
obliged to undertake such an exercise by entertaining the appeal. The trial
Court on the facts of this case did not perform its duties, as was enjoined on
it by law. The High Court ought to have in such circumstances granted leave and
thereafter as a first court of appeal, re- appreciated the entire evidence on
the record independently and returned its findings objectively as regards
guilt or otherwise of the accused. It has failed to do so. The questions
involved were not trivial. The requirement of independent witness and
discarding testimony of official witnesses even if it was reliable, cogent or
trustworthy needed adjudication in appeal. The High Court has not given any
reasons for refusing to grant leave to file appeal against acquittal, and seems
to have been completely oblivious to the fact that by such refusal, a close
scrutiny of the order of acquittal, by the appellate forum, has been lost once
and for all. The manner in which appeal against acquittal has been dealt with
by the High Court leaves much to be desired.
clarity in an order. On plainest consideration of justice, the High Court ought
to have set forth its reasons, howsoever brief, in its order indicative of an
application of its mind, all the more when its order is amenable to further
avenue of challenge. The absence of reasons has rendered the High Court order
not sustainable. Similar view was expressed in State of U.P. v. Battan and Ors
(2001 (10) SCC 607). About two decades back in State of Maharashtra v. Vithal
Rao Pritirao Chawan (AIR 1982 SC 1215) the desirability of a speaking order
while dealing with an application for grant of leave was highlighted.
The requirement of
indicating reasons in such cases has been judicially recognized as imperative.
The view was re-iterated in Jawahar Lal Singh v. Naresh Singh and Ors.
(1987 (2) SCC 222).
Judicial discipline to abide by declaration of law by this Court, cannot be
forsaken, under any pretext by any 6 authority or Court, be it even the
Highest Court in a State, oblivious to Article 141 of the Constitution of
India, 1950 (in short the `Constitution')".
appeal is allowed.
ARIJIT PASAYAT) ...............................J.