Acquittal or Honourable Acquittal
The Code of Criminal procedure does not define either the acquittal or honorable acquittal and for that matter, the benefit of the doubt as well. It is the Court by its judgments and by applying the principles of the innocence of the accused and the burden on the prosecution to prove the offence, recognized the principle of giving benefit of doubt to acquit the accused. In the absence of any definition in the code of criminal procedure, it is very difficult to define what is the meaning of the words “honourable acquittal”. Again it depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The Court could reasonably presume that if an accused is acquitted or discharged because of some technicality not having been complied with or on the ground that though there is some evidence against him, he must be acquitted by giving the benefit of doubt, it may not amount to honourable acquittal on the other hand, if an accused is acquitted after full consideration of evidence because the prosecution witnesses are disbelieved and the persecution has miserably failed to prove the charges it would amount to honourable acquittal. In the event the Court while acquitting an accused neither say that the case against him is false nor does it say that the accused has been acquitted on the ground of benefit of doubt, then the acquittal may be honourable acquittal.
Difference between Acquittal & Honourable acquittal-
Once the person has been acquitted, the entire crime registered against him stands wiped out. An acquittal is an acquittal whether it is a “clean acquittal”, whether it is “honourable acquittal” or “acquittal based on giving the benefit of the doubt”. The “clean acquittal”, the “honourable acquittal” or “acquittal based on giving the benefit of doubt” has not been distinguished in? the Code of Criminal Procedure. In a case of Smt Panna Mehta Vs. State of M.P. reported in 2002(4) M.P.H.T. 226 in paragraph 11 and 12 held as under: “11. In?the Code of Criminal Procedure,?Indian Penal Code, Evidence Act or any other enactment, the word, “acquittal” has not been defined. As per the Law Lexicon, the Encyclopaedic Law Dictionary (Edn. 1992) “Acquittal” defined, Act X of 1882, Section 403, “the word acquittal is verbum equivocum , and may in ordinary language be used to express either the verdict of a jury, or the formal judgment of the Court, that the prisoner is not guilty”. It is generally said that a party is acquitted by the jury, but in fact, the acquittal is by the judgment of the court (ibid). According to the Oxford Dictionary, “acquittal” means that a person is not guilty of a crime, with which he has been charged. So in a criminal jurisprudence, there is no difference between “clean acquittal”, “honourable acquittal” or “acquittal based on giving the benefit of the doubt”. When the accused is acquitted by giving the benefit of the doubt means the prosecution was not able to prove its case beyond doubt.
An order of acquittal means a person concerned, has not committed the offence for which he was charged and tried. Criminal Courts are recording acquittal when the prosecution fails to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt and benefit of the doubt given to the accused does not mean that the accused was involved in the case but the same could not be proved by the prosecution. In the sphere of Criminal Law, words “beyond reasonable doubt” cannot be termed as stigma or proof of any criminal charge against acquitted accused.