Irlapati Subbayya Vs. The Public
Prosecutor, Andhra Pradesh  INSC 55 (14 March 1974)
BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH
CITATION: 1974 AIR 836 1974 SCR (3) 602 1974
SCC (4) 293
Supreme Court (Enlargement of Criminal Appellate
Jurisdiction) Act 1970--Appeal against acquittal--Duty of the High Court while
interfering with the acquittal.
The appellant was charged for offences
punishable under sections 302, 325 and 323 read with sec. 34 of the I.P.C.
along with three others. The Sessions Court
acquitted the appellant. The High Court set aside the acquittal and convicted
the appellant upon the, plea of, the appellant that the High Court had erred in
its appreciation of ,evidence. The Court went through the entire record for
itself as the appellant had approached the Court under the Criminal
Jurisdiction newly created.
Allowing the appeal,
HELD : (1) That, the conviction by the High
Court was not based on complete cr comprehensive appreciation of all features
of the case, which, taken together cast a reasonable doubt on the prosecution
version. There was considerable uncertainty about the time and the place at
which the incident took place. The evidence of the witnesses that there was
considerable bleeding from the injury of the deceased was inconsistent with
total absence of blood at the place of occurrence. The prosecution tried to
prove that there were 3 blows struck on the head of the deceased, but this was
not supported by the medical evidence. [606C; B] (II) Held further that the
High Court failed to attach due weight to the assessment of evidence by the
trial court which had the additional advantage of seeing the ,witnesses depose
in the witness box. [606D]
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION': Criminal
Appeal No. 229 of 1970.
From the judgment and order dated the 29th
September, 1970 of the Andhra Pradesh High Court at Hyderabad in Criminal
Appeal No. 891 of 1969.
K. T. Harindranath and G. S. Rama Rao, for
P. Ram Reddy and P. P. Rao, for the respondent.
The Judgement of the Court was delivered by
BEG J.-The appellant was charged, with his three brothers-in-law, Bayyarapu
Butchiah, Bayyarapu Chandriah, and Bayyarapu Kotayya for offences punishable
under Section 302, 325, and 323 Indian Penal Irlapati Ramayya and causing
grievous hurt to Ankayya, P.W. 2, and simple injury to China Veerayya, P.W. 1,
at about 4.30 p.m., on 15-6-69, in front of house of Vipparla Peda Veerayya in
District Guntur in the State of Andhra
Pradesh. They were tried and acquitted by the learned Sessions' Judge of Guntur
who attached considerable importance to the supposed delay in lodging the First
Information Report of the alleged occurrence at 10.30 p.m. on 15-6-69 at Police
Station, Sattonapalli, 13 miles away from the scene of the incident.
The prosecution had a sufficiently good
explanation for the supposed delay inasmuch as the wife and other relations of
the deceased were busy trying to get adequate medical attention for the
deceased before thinking of making the F.I.R. The High Court had, on an 603
appeal to it, considered this and other questions involved in the case and
convicted and sentenced the appellant under Section 302 to life imprisonment
and awarded other appropriate sentences under Sections 325 and 323 I.P.C. to
him. The High Court had convicted the three other co- accused under Sections
323 and 324 I.P.C. only and had sentenced them to a fine of Rs. 150/- only,
and, in default of payment Of fine, to three months rigorous imprisonment, Consequently,
the appellant, had his right to appeal to this Court against the reversal of
the order of his acquittal.
The co-accused not being in that advantageous
position, could not obtain any special leave to appeal.
As this is an appeal, in exercise of a newly
created right of appeal to this Court, we have examined the evidence on record.
The points raised on behalf of the appellant, on this evidence, are mentioned
Firstly, it is pointed out that P.W.1, P.W.
2, P. W. 3, and P.W. 4, as well as P.W. 10, and P.W. 11, are relations of the
deceased, highly interested in securing the convictions of the appellant on
account of partisanship. It was urged that P.W. 5 and P.W. 6, were wrongly
treated as alleged "independent witnesses" by the High Court. It was
suggested to the prosecution witnesses, in the course of their cross-
examination, that the real occurrence took place elsewhere and consisted of
long drawn out stone pelting by two sides during the day in the course of which
both sides were injured. In support of this version, reliance was placed upon
several tell-tale, or, at least, highly suspicious circumstances which were not
adequately explained by the prosecution. Secondly, no blood was found anywhere
near the Neem tree in front of the house of P.W. 3, Peda Verrayya, where the
occurrence is said to have taken place. Thirdly, it was established, from the
statement of the investigating officer, that the trunk of the Neem tree under
which the alleged occurrence took place was about 5 to 6 ft. high so that no
lathis could be lifted and brought down to beat the injured without obstruction
by branches as was admitted by Lakshmayya. P.W. 4, and China Veerayya, P.W. 1.
Fourthly, the site plan showed quite a number of stones lying at some distance
from the scene of occurrence. Fifthly, a number of independent witnesses, apart
from the ones examined, (who are all characterised by the appellant's Counsel
as "partisan witnesses",) were said to be available but not examined.
Although this was admitted as a fact in the Committing Magistrate's Court by
P.W. 1, a new version was, it was submitted, given at the trial. Sixthly, there
were injuries upon the appellant's body which had not been explained by the
prosecution version although a belated attempt had been made by Lakshmayya,
P.W. 4, at the trial to explain these injuries by alleging that the four
injuries, all on the head of the appellant, which, according to the Doctor,
could be caused by stone throwing also, were caused by P. W. 4. This new
version was, it was urged, incredible in view of the prosecution case of the
aggressiveness of the accused and youthfulness of P. W. 4, aged 22, who
admitted that he had run away as he was afraid of being beaten 'and was chased.
It was pointed out that his attempt to explain the injuries on the head of the
appellant was neither consistent with the earliest prosecution version nor with
604 statements of other prosecution witnesses where no such incident is
mentioned. It was, therefore, submitted that this belated attempt was not an
explanation at all but only an indication of falsehood and fabrication In the
Seventhly, we were taken through the
statements of prosecution witnesses, P. W. 1, P.W. 2, P. W. 3, P. W. 4, P.W. 5,
P.W. 6, as to the time of the occurrence which was variously stated by them to
have taken place at different times between noon and just before sunset. This
was certainly a most unusual variation which could not be explained by mere
inability of villagers to give the exact time, The villagers had described the
time by reference to "baras" before sunset and the colour of the sun
which was described as red by one witness so that it was nearing sunset.
according to him, at the time of the occurrence.
This feature of the evidence was more
consistent with some long drawn out occurrence such as stone throwing or with
the fact that all the alleged witnesses could not be there. In any case, they
could not be there at the same time. Their versions, therefore, appear highly
suspicious. Eightly, there were variations in the statements of witnesses about
the time and place at which China Veerayya, P.W. I and Ankayya, P. W. 2, were
said to have been beaten. Sayamma, P. W. 10, for example had stated that
Ankayya, P. W. 2 was beaten at a distance of 10 to 15 yds. from the house of
Peda 'Veerayya, P.W. 3 at the junction of North South streets and East West
street. Sub-Inspector Perayya, P.W. 22 stated that this junction was about 60
to 70 yds. from the house of Peda Veerayya. Venkamma, P.W. 12 had stated that
the place where Ankayya, P.W. 2 fell was at a distance of only 1 or 2 yds. from
the house of Peda Veerayya, P.W. 3. According to the appellant's Counsel, the
cumulative effect of the features mentioned above and of even minor
discrepancies which would, in a different context-. be quite unimportant, was
to indicate that the witnesses had not really seen or described the occurrence
as it took place but were putting forward a substantially incorrect version.
In reply, some attempt has been made to
explain the absence of blood from the scene of occurrence by pointing out that
China Veerayya, P.W. 1 had stated that the deceased had a head gear. I, that
was so, the extent of the injury on the, head was really difficult to reconcile
with the post mortem report which described the injuries of Ramayya, deceased
"1. Lacerated injury scalp 8 cm x I cm.
placed over internal parietal area in anterior posterior direction. Cephalo
hematoma present extending over left parietal, occipital, right parietal and
2. Contusion of size 8 cm x 5 cm. over outer
and upper part of left for arm.
3. Three small superficial abrasions
anterially below right knee joint".
The Doctor had also stated "On
dissection of injury No. 1 showed extensive aphalo hematoma involving left
parietal, occipatal and right parietal 605 and temporal areas comminuted
depressed fracture of vault of scalp involving frontal bone 5 cm. in anterior
Part of the left perietal bone detached and
broken into three pieces and lying loose over brain, fissured fracture
extending upto left temporal bone. Right parietal bone fractured transversely
upto three centimetres, occipital bone fractured and fissure fracture placed
obliquely towards right for 3 cms. Brain membrances found contused showed no
It was urged that a "hematoma" does
not produce much bleeding. We do not think that the injuries alleged have been
inflicted on the head with sticks are of such a nature that they would not
produce considerable bleeding. in fact, the Doctor said that the scalp was
covered with blood.
Therefore, the attempt to explain the
mysterious absence of any blood from the alleged place of occurrence is rather
We also find that the account given by the
prosecution witness does not fit in with the medical evidence inasmuch as not
only was the appellant said to have beaten the.
deceased with a stick on his head but another
accused was said to. have poked him on the chest with his stick first and then
beaten him on his left hand, still another accused was alleged to have given a
blow with a stick on the forehead of the .deceased, and the fourth accused was
said to have struck the deceased on the left side of the head just above the
ear. The three injuries indicated above show that no blow was' struck on the
forehead of the deceased at all. The superficial abrasions below the knee could
be very well due to the falling. Thus, there were really only two injuries on
the head. It may be that the first injury was due to more than one blow on the
head. The Doctor was, however, not questioned on this aspect. There were, in
any case, certainly not four injuries on the body of the deceased.
The Doctor who performed the post mortem had
said that the injury which caused the death could be due to striking the
deceased's head with a blunt object like a stick but that "it is also
possible that injury No. I could be caused by "a stone of 3" or even
more". The Doctor admitted that injury on-the knee could be caused by a
fall on a rough surface.
He found the scalp was so profusely covered
with blood that he could not completely examine the injury. Thus bleeding
appears to have been considerable. Hence, absence of blood from the alleged
place of occurrence appears to US to carry.
a significance which the High Court ignored.
We may also mention that the nature of the
incident set up by the prosecution itself shows that there was a dispute over
the possession and construction of a house for the repairs of which about 400
stones had been collected. On an occasion prior to the actual occurrence, the
appellant was said to have been obstructed from carrying stones. it was alleged
that he had, for this reason, beaten Sayamma and her mother who were said to
have obstructed him. A constable was said to have come to the village at about
noon of 606 the day of occurrence to investigate, aid, thereafter, the incident
is alleged to have taken place. The incident alleged by the prosecution
certainly did not occur while the constable was still there.
There is considerable uncertainty about the
time as, well as the place at which the incident took place. Furthermore, the
injuries on the appellant had not been explained. Apart from the features
mentioned already, we find that the village Munsif, who was available for a complaint
about the incident was not informed. This suggests that the party of the
prosecution witnesses had something, like stone throwing by them, to hide. The
deceased was also not taken to the nearest dispensary to get his wounds
We are, therefore, not satisfied that the
High Court had rightly? interfered with the order of acquittal passed by the
Trial Court. The view of the High Court is not based on a complete or
comprehensive appreciation of all the features of the case which taken
together, cast a reasonable doubt on the prosecution version. It is well
established that, in an appeal against acquittal, the appellate Court ought to
attach due weight to the assessment of evidence by the Trial Court which has
had the additional advantage of seeing the witnesses depose in the witness box.
We, therefore, allow this appeal and set
aside the conviction and sentence of the appellant who shall be set free
forthwith unless wanted in some other connection .
S. B. W. Appeal allowed.