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Difference between Acquittal and Discharge

Definition Acquittal is when the accused is proven innocent by the court after evaluating all the facts and evidence presented in this case and is lawfully freed. Discharge refers to the legal order of release issued by a magistrate when the reasons for their arrest were found to be incorrect or baseless.
Double Jeopardy A person who has been acquitted cannot be prosecuted for the same offense again as per the concepts of autrefois acquit and double jeopardy. A person who has been discharged may be re-arrested for additional interrogation.
What is it? Acquittal is a verdict in a criminal case that signifies that the person is not guilty of the offense. Discharge is an order in a criminal case that signifies that the legal proceedings lack sufficient evidence and grounds for it to be continued.
Second Trial An acquittal precludes a retrial for the same or a different offense based on the same circumstances. On the other hand, a discharge permits new proceedings if further significant evidence is discovered.
Is A Result Of Complainant, withdrawal, or aggravation of offense. Any evidence in the defendant's favor.
Granted Due To An acquittal is granted when the accused’s innocence is established by a thorough investigation. Discharge is granted due to the lack of prima facie evidence against the defendant.
Charges Only after the charges have been filed a person might be acquitted. Before charges are filed, a person might be discharged.

Acquittal Case Laws

  • In Champalal Kapoorchand Jain v. Navyug Cloth Stores (2019), the Metropolitan Magistrate issued an order of Acquittal to the accused owing to the complainant's unavailability.
  • In Mallikarjun Kodagali v. State of Karnataka (2018), it was held that Section 372 of CrPC, which deals with appeals from acquittal judgments, should be interpreted in a "realistic, liberal, progressive" way to assist the victim. He also pointed to a decision passed by the United Nations General Assembly, which said that the victim has the right to file an appeal against the accused's Acquittal in addition to the state.

Discharge Case Laws

  • In Smt. Rumi Dhar v. State of West Bengal & Anr. (2009) 6 SCC 364, the Hon'ble SC observed that while contemplating an application for discharge filed under Section 239 of the Code, the learned Judge should go into the details of the allegations levelled against each of the accused persons to ascertain whether any case has been made out at all.
  • In State Of Karnataka vs. L. Muniswamy & Ors, 1977 AIR 1489, 1977 SCR (3) 113, the Hon'ble SC observed that continuing the proceedings against the accused would be a colossal waste of public resources and time as there was no evidence adequate for any Court to reasonably convict them for any offense pertaining to the assault on the complainant. As a result, the accused was discharged.


The acquittal procedure is essential in criminal law because it ensures that an innocent person is not punished for an offense that he did not commit. However, if the victim feels the offender was wrongfully acquitted, they might file an appeal with the court. Consequently, where there are "insufficient grounds to proceed with the case," the accused is discharged. When the Session Judge believes the trial would be ineffective or time-consuming, he is required to discharge the accused.

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