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Acquittal and Honourable Acquittal

When acquittal is granted to a person, it is generally given under two circumstances, firstly an acquittal which is granted due to the failure of prosecution to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt (where the accused is fully exonerated) and secondly an unconditional acquittal wherein the accused is acquitted giving him the benefit of doubt.

The term honourable acquittal has been mentioned nowhere either in the constitution nor in the statutes, but has been coined by the Indian Judiciary, and the meaning of the term of hon'ble acquittal was first discussed in the case of Reserve Bank of India v Bhopal Singh Panchal,[1] and later in the case of Inspector General of Police v S Samuthiram.[2]
This term has been mostly used in the cases of reinstallation of employees to their previous services, or for those who want their job back from which they have been removed due to disciplinary actions.

The courts in ample of their judgements have widely held that only those who have been fully exonerated or honourable acquitted have the right to be reinstated into the services, since mere acquittal does not prove the innocence of a person as it cannot be conclusively inferred that the person was not involved in the criminal activity or did not have any criminal antecedents, but only through honourable acquittal.

In the case of RBI v Bhopal Singh Panchal,[3] the hon'ble Supreme Court in its judgement specifically held that an honourable acquittal is when the accused is acquitted after fully considering the evidence of the prosecution and the prosecution has miserably failed in proving the charges against accused.

Therefore, from the above extract, it can be inferred that if a person has been granted acquittal just because the prosecution failed to prove the charges against the accused beyond reasonable doubt, it cannot be an honourable acquittal, for honourable acquittal he/she should be fully absolved from the alleged charges against him.

  1. Reserve Bank of India v Bhopal Singh Panchal (1994) 1 SCC 541.
  2. Inspector General of Police v S Samuthiram (2013) 1 SCC 598.
  3. Reserve Bank of India v Bhopal Singh Panchal (1994) 1 SCC 541.

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