Tag Archives: autrefois acquit

Principle of Issue Estoppel

The principle of issue estoppel is also known as ‘cause of action estoppel’ and the same is different from the principle of double jeopardy or autrefois acquit, as embodied in Section 403, Crpc. This principle applies where an issue of fact has been tries by a competent Court on a former occasion and a finding has been reached in favour of an accused. Such a finding would then constitute an estoppel or res judicata against the prosecution but would not operate as a bar to the trial and conviction of the accused, for a different or distinct offence. I would only preclude the reception of evidence that will disturb that finding of fact already recorded when the accused is tried subsequently, even for a distinct offence, which might be permitted by Section 403 (2) Crpc. Thus, the rule of issue estoppel prevents re-litigation of an issue which has been determined in a criminal trial between the parties. If with respect to an offence, arising out of a transaction, a trial has taken place and the accused has been acquitted, another trial with respect to the offence alleged to arise out of the transaction, which requires the court to arrive at a conclusion inconsistent with the conclusion reached at the earlier trial, is prohibited by the rule of issue estoppel. In order to invoke the rule of issue estoppel, not only the parties in the two trials should be the same but also, the fact in issue, proved or not, as present in the earlier trial, must be identical to what is sought to be re-agitated in the subsequent trial. If the cause of action was determined to exist, i.e. judgment was given on it, the same is said to be merged in the judgment. If it was determined not to exist, the unsuccessful plaintiff can no longer assert that it does; he is estopped per rem judicatam. Ravinder Singh v. Sukhbir Singh, 2013 (80) ACC 950.

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Doctrine of Autrefois Acquit

In order to attract the provisions of Article 20 (2) of the Constitution of India, i.e. doctrine of autrefois acquit or Section 300 of Crpc or Section 71 of IPC or Section 26 of the General Clauses Act, the ingredients of the offences in the earlier case as well as in the latter case must be the same and not different. The test to ascertain whether the two offences are the same is not the identity of the allegations but the identity of the ingredients of the offence. Motive for committing the offence cannot be termed as the ingredients of offences to determine the issue. The plea of autrefois acquit is not proved unless it is shown that the judgment of acquittal in the previous charge necessarily involves an acquittal of the latter charge. Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai Patel v. State of Gujarat and another, (2012) 7 SCC 721

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Filed under Criminal Law, double jeopardy