Narsaiah Vs. State of A.P.
O R D E R
deceased, Venkatram Reddy, owned some agricultural land bearing Survey No. 678 in
Village Pedched. The paddy crop that had been sown on this land had been harvested
four or five days earlier to the date of the incident and the deceased would
sleep in the fields at night to keep a watch on the paddy and the deceased as
per routine, went to the fields on the evening of the 1st of May, 2004. At
about 6:30A.M. the next morning P.W. 6, the servant of the family, informed the
family members that Venkatram Reddy had been murdered and the injuries had been
caused with an axe. P.W. 1, the son of the deceased, rushed to the field and
found that his father was lying dead on which he registered a First Information
Report against Crl.A. Nos. 2111-2112 of 2008 unknown persons.
During the course of the
investigation it transpired that P.W. 2, another son of the deceased, had seen the
wife of A1 requesting the deceased to go to the fields the next morning as the paddy
had to be thrashed and that P.W. 9 had seen A1, his wife and son returning on a
bullock cart at mid night on the 1st of April, 2004 and when he had questioned
them they told him that they were going to the field to thrash the paddy crop. P.W.
9 also stated that he had also asked A9 to supply water from his cart for the marriage
of his daughter which was scheduled to take place the next morning.
The police also
recorded the statement of P.W. 10 to whom the two accused had made an extra judicial
confession about 20/25 days after the murder and had sought his help in dealing
with the police and that he had advised them to surrender to custody. The accused
were, accordingly, arrested soon after the extra-judicial confessions had been
made and on the statements made by both of them, the weapons of offence i.e.
axe etc. were recovered in the presence of P.W. 12. The trial court relying on the
aforesaid evidence convicted the two accused under Section 302/34 of the Indian
Penal Code and sentenced them to imprisonment for life. In appeal, the High Court
observed that there were four piece of evidences against the appellant viz:
a. "A-1 cultivated
the lands of the deceased on crop sharing basis, there arose differences in the
context of the demand made by A1 to give the other lands of the deceased also
on lease to him;
b. PW-9 had seen A-1,
his wife and son coming on a bullock cart towards the same field, late in the
night on the date of occurrence.
c. That A-1 and A-2 have
confessed before PW-11 that they have committed the murder of Venkatram Reddy
d. the recovery of
material objects at the instance of A-1 and A-2 was evidenced by PW-12." and
on an analysis of the evidence concluded that no case was made out against A2
and as such his appeal was allowed whereas the appeal of A1 was dismissed.
It is in this situation
that the matter is before us after the grant of special leave.
have heard Mr. Niroop, the learned counsel for the appellant, and Mr. R. Sundaravardhan,
the learned Senior Counsel for the State of Andhra Pradesh. We notice that
there are four circumstances which the High Court has made out against the
appellant. We deal with them ad seriatim:
a. It is the prosecution
story that A1 had cultivated the land of the deceased on crop sharing basis for
some time and that the two had later fallen out on account of the refusal of
the deceased to give some more land to A1 for cultivation purposes. We see from
the record that the facts relating to the difference of opinion between the
accused and the deceased did not figure in the statements given by any of the prosecution
witnesses given under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and was an improvement
made during the course of the evidence. In that eventuality, this evidence by itself
has virtually no value.
b. This point has been
taken to be the evidence of last seen. This is a wrong perception for the
reason that when P.W. 9 had seen A1 and his son returning from the fields late at
night, the deceased was not with them. To our mind, therefore, this evidence
too is of no importance and merely because the accused had been seen coming from
the field in which the murder had apparently been committed could not be taken as
evidence of last seen as it is the admitted case that A1 was also cultivating
part of the land in which the murder had been committed.
c. This is the primary
evidence which the prosecution has relied upon against the appellant. First of
all, we find that the extra-judicial confession was jointly made by the accused
to P.W. 10. We have also gone through the evidence of P.W. 10 and find from a
reading thereof that he was a convenient witness for the police as he admitted
that he had stood bail in a large number of excise cases and that he was
running a toddy shop.
He also admitted in
his cross examination that he was associated in some kind of business with P.W.
1 the first informant and the son of the deceased. In the face of the above, we
are of the opinion that the recovery of the axe and other incriminating
articles do not constitute a material chain of circumstances against the
appellant. It is by now well-settled that in a case relating to circumstantial
evidence the chain of circumstances has to be spelt out by the prosecution and
if even one link in the chain is broken the accused must get the benefit thereof.
We are of the opinion that the present is in fact a case of no evidence. We, accordingly,
allow the appeals, set aside the judgment of the High Court insofar as the
appellant is concerned and order his acquittal. He is directed to be released forthwith
if not required in connection with any other case.
[HARJIT SINGH BEDI]
[GYAN SUDHA MISRA]