However, such appeals to the High Court (under (b), above) can be entertained only after obtaining the leave of the High Court.
If the order of acquittal has been passed in any case which has been instituted on a complaint, and the High Court, on an application made to it by the complainant, grants special leave to appeal from the acquittal order, the complainant may also present such an appeal to the High Court.
However, no application for the grant of such special leave can be entertained by the High Court after the expiry of 6 months where the complainant is a public servant, and after 60 days in any other case. The number of days, in each case, is to be computed from the day of the order of acquittal. If, in such a case, if the complainant is refused leave to appeal, the State Government cannot direct the Public Prosecutor to appeal in the same matter.
The law favours a restriction on the right of appeal against a judgment of acquittal, so as to prevent personal vindictiveness manifesting itself in the form of an appeal against an acquittal. Normally, the State Government is expected to interfere only when there is a grave miscarriage of justice.
The Courts have repeatedly held that the power under S. 378 should be exercised sparingly by the Government. The Courts have further held that although the discretion to use this power is vested in the Government, yet the High Court may, in a fit case, refuse to grant leave to appeal against an acquittal.
The Supreme Court has observed that, in an appeal under this section, the High Court has full power to review the evidence on which the order of acquittal was based and come to its own conclusion. But, it is equally well-settled that the presumption of innocence of the accused is further reinforced by his acquittal by the trial Court, which has the advantage of seeing the witness and hearing the evidence; therefore, the sentence can be reversed only for very substantial and compelling reason. (Surajpal Singh — 1952 S.C.R. 193)
In a case decided by the Supreme Court, involving an appeal against an acquittal, it was observed that if the Trial Court’s view is reasonably possible, the High Court should not reverse the order of acquittal, merely on the ground that a different view on evidence was possible.
On the facts of the case, the Court, therefore, held that the view taken by the Trial Court was the only reasonable one which could be taken on the evidence before the said Court. It was, therefore, held that the High Court had erred in disturbing the Trial Court’s judgment. (Dinanath Singh v. State of Bihar — (1980) 1 S.C.C. 674)
The Supreme Court has also held that in a case of an appeal against an acquittal, if two views of the evidence are reasonably possible, one favouring acquittal, and the other conviction, the High Court should not reverse the order of acquittal. (Dhan Kumar v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi, — (1980) 1 S.C.C. 605)