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State of Karnataka Vs. A.B. Mahesha & Ors.

[Criminal Appeal No.1133- 1135 of 2010]

R. BANUMATHI,J.

1. The appeals by the State of Karnataka are against the acquittal of the respondents/accused.

2. The case of the prosecution revolves around the following circumstances:-

(i) deceased Jagdeesha was last seen alive in the Company of A1 to A3 - respondents;

(ii) recovery of Car having Registration No. MEC 8344 and

(iii) recovery of material objects from the houses of accused - one golden chain (MO-8) at the behest of A1, one Rado watch (MO-6) at the behest of A2 and one golden ring (MO-7) at the behest of A3.

3. The trial Court convicted all the accused under Section 302, 201, 392 and 397 IPC and sentenced to them, inter alia, to undergo life imprisonment. The High Court by the impugned judgment allowed the appeal and set aside the conviction and acquitted all the accused.

4. We have heard Mr. V.N. Raghupathy, learned counsel appearing for the State of Karnataka and perused the impugned judgment and materials on record. In spite of service of notice none entered appearance on behalf of the respondents-accused.

5. Insofar as the first circumstance that the deceased was last seen alive, the prosecution relies upon the testimony of P.Ws 5 and 6 who were also running the taxi at Chikkamagalur Car Stand. PW-5 stated that even though the accused wanted to engage his car, deceased Jagdeesha expressed his intention to go on hire as his wife's house is in Thanneruhalla near Hasan so that he could go to the house of his inlaws where his wife was staying. Subsequently the body was found near the bridge on NH-48 near Kirisave Village on 08.05.2000. The body was found in a decomposed state on 08.05.2000. The evidence of PWs 5 and 6 is only limited to the extent that the deceased was last seen alive in the company of the accused.

6. So far as the second circumstance - recovery of the car, prosecution relies upon the evidence of PW-4 (garage owner) and PW-20 S.I. of Gudlur Police Station (Tamil Nadu). In his evidence PW-4 (garage owner) has stated that the accused nos. 2 and 3 had left the car in his garage for repairs and for effecting repairs he issued quotation under Ex.P-6 on 09.05.2000. Contrarily, PW-20 S.I. of Gudlur Police Station has stated that the car was abandoned in front of "Hot and Cold Hotel" and he seized the car on 07.06.2000 and reported the matter to the Taluk Executive Magistrate. Insofar as the recovery of the car, the evidence of PW-4 (garage owner) and evidence of PW-20 S.I. of Gudlur Police Station are totally contradictory to each other and it is difficult to be reconciled. Pointing out the inconsistency in the evidence of PW-4 and PW-20, the High Court rightly held that the case of the prosecution is highly doubtful and this circumstance cannot form the basis for conviction.

7. Insofar as the recovery of the material objects namely, gold chain (MO-8), Rado watch (MO-6) and golden ring (MO-7) recovered from the houses of the respective accused, they were identified by PW-3 (father of the deceased) on 18.06.2000; whereas as per version of the investigating officer they were recovered on 23.06.2000. Here again there is a material contradiction as to the recovery of the above material objects and also the identification of those material objects by PW-3. The High Court has pointed out that the inconsistent version between the evidence of I.O and PW-3 (father of the deceased) raises serious doubt about the alleged recovery and the case of the prosecution.

8. Based on the above inconsistencies and contradictions when the High Court has acquitted the accused, this Court can not interfere with the acquittal unless there are serious and substantial error or compelling reasons warranting interference. We do not find any such serious infirmity in the judgment of the High Court warranting interference.

9. The appeals are, accordingly, dismissed.

..........................J. [R. BANUMATHI]

..........................J. [VINEET SARAN]

NEW DELHI

14TH AUGUST, 2018


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