Naga Subba Reddi & Ors Vs. The Public Prosecutor High Court of A.P  INSC
155 (28 March 2000)
& M B Shah.
By the judgment and order dated 2.3.1998 the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad in Criminal Appeal No.920 of 1996 convicted the appellants and reversed the acquittal order passed by the IInd Additional Sessions Judge in Sessions Case No. 13 of 1992. Before the trial court, there were six accused in all. The High Court convicted A-1, A-2, A-3 and A-5 for the offences punishable under Sections 148 and 302 read with
Section 149 IPC and sentenced them to undergo R.I. for life and also to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/- each in default of payment of fine, simple imprisonment for six months. A-4 and A-6 were acquitted.
conviction order is challenged in this appeal.
the prosecution version that on 26.9.1990 at around 10.30 p.m. on the outskirts of Gangireddipalli near coconut garden,
accused committed the murder of deceased Rachapalle Devachandra Reddy. The
alleged motive is that accused No.1 resident of Moramkindapalli hamlet of Guriginjakunta
village was dealer of Fair Price shop of that village. He was committing
certain irregularities while distributing essential commodities. The villagers
including the deceased lodged a complaint against A-1 to the R.D.O., Cuddapah. On
the basis of the said complaint, the R.D.O.
the dealership of A-1 and in his place appointed P.W.5 Sadhu Ananda Reddi of Yerrakalvapalli
as a temporary dealer of the Fair Price shop of that village. As a result of
suspension of his dealership, A-1 bore grudge against the deceased. Abbavaram Ramachandra
Reddi P.W.1 is the brother of the wife of the deceased. It is the say of P.W.1
that he went to the residence of the deceased on his request to help him in his
harvesting activity of Sericulture crop prior to the date of the incident; on
26.9.1990 at 8.00 a.m. he along with deceased and P.W.10
boarded the RTC bus at Mallapalli village to go to Rayachoti. After getting
down at Rayachoti bus stand at 9.00 a.m., they
met one Sadhu Anna Reddi (PW5). All of them took coffee at the bus stand.
P.Ws 5 and 10 went to M.R.Os office, Sambepalli to lift rice and sugar as P.W.5
was given dealership in Fair Price shop at village Guriginjakunta. P.W.1 and
the deceased went to the office of Sericulture at about 10.30 a.m. from where they were directed to come back at 1.30 p.m. Hence after taking meals they went back to that
Office at 1.30 p.m. They remained in the Office till 3.00 p.m.
they came back to the bus stand, waited for Sadhu Anna Reddy and Settipalli Venkataramanareddi
(P.W.s 5 and 10) who came there at about 4.00 p.m. All of them went to godown at about 5.00 p.m. They returned at the bus stand at 6 p.m. From there they again went to the Revenue Inspectors house
[Pradeep Kumar P.W.12] and remained with him till 8.00 p.m. Thereafter, they went to the house of Bhaskar Reddi (P.W.7)
who was working as a Head Clerk in the Revenue Inspectors office at Sambepalli.
From that place, all of them returned to the bus stand at 9.30 p.m. They boarded bus in order to go to village Gangireddigaripalli.
were purchased by P.W.5 for all of them. P.W.5 got down at village Kathivaripalli
after handing over the bus tickets to P.W.10. All the three got down at village
Malapalli at 10.15 p.m. For going to village Gangireddigaripalli,
they proceeded on the cart track. It is the say of P.W. 1 that he was having a
torch bearing 3 cells and the deceased was proceeding 5 yards ahead of both of
them. When the deceased was going in his garden, they heard the sound and on
inquiry by the deceased, they found accused Nos. 1 to 6 with deadly weapons.
This was noticed after focussing torch light on them. It is the say of P.W.
accused No. 1 was armed with spear, A2 and 3 were having hunting sickles, A4
and 5 were armed with daggers and A6 was armed with a metallic stick.
Thereafter, the accused surrounded the deceased and started assaulting him with
their respective weapons. On receipt of injuries, the deceased fell down. When
they tried to intervene and asked as to why they were attacking the deceased,
accused tried to attack the witnesses and chased them, but they ran away.
reaching the house of the deceased they informed about the incident to the wife
and the children of the deceased.
them went at the spot and found the deceased dead having multiple bleeding
the say of the eye-witnesses that at night time as there was no transport
facility available to go to the police station which is at a distance of 16 k.ms.
from the place of incident, P.W. 1 boarded the RTC bus in the early morning at 5.30 a.m., reached the police station and lodged the FIR at 7.30 a.m. At about 8.00 a.m., the Circle Inspector came to the police station and visited the scene
of offence at about 9.30
a.m. At the scene of
offence, the statements of witnesses were recorded. The I.O. held inquest on
the dead body at about 11.30
a.m. He also seized
blood stained clothes of the deceased and other articles like torch light.
appreciating the evidence, the learned Sessions Judge acquitted the accused. As
against this, the High Court reversed the said acquittal and convicted four
accused as stated above. The question for consideration in this appeal is
whether the High Court was justified in reversing the acquittal order passed by
the learned Sessions Judge.
been contended that the High Court ought not to have relied upon the evidence
of P.Ws 1 and 10. As per the prosecution version, P.Ws 1 and 10 are
eye-witnesses to the occurrence. If their evidence is relied upon, then it can
be stated that the Sessions Court materially erred in acquitting the accused
who were known to the witnesses and were identified by them at the scene of
offence by focussing torch light. Therefore, we have to find out whether the
High Court was justified in relying upon the evidence of P.Ws 1 and 10.
stated, for the assault on the deceased by the accused, P.W.1 narrates the
incident involving accused Nos.
6. However, P.W. 10 has deposed that he had noticed six persons out of whom he
could identify only accused Nos.
1 to 3
and 5. Considering this aspect, accused Nos 4 and 6 were given benefit of doubt
by the High Court. With regard to the weapons used, both the witnesses have
specifically stated that A-1 was armed with spear, A2 and A3 were armed with
hunting sickles and A5 was armed with dagger and they assaulted the deceased
with their respective weapons. The evidence of these witnesses with regard to
the assault gets corroboration from the FIR which was lodged at 7.30 a.m. on 27.9.1990 and injuries received by the deceased
as per medical evidence. It is to be stated that the inquest was held at the
scene of offence at about 11.30 a.m. P.W. 9 Dr. Abdul Khuddus who conducted the
postmortem examination on 27th itself, in all found 18 injuries on the
deceased-8 incised wounds, 5 stab injuries and 2 abrasions. Further the
evidence of P.Ws. 1 and 10 that they had gone along with the deceased to
village Rayachoti and came back to village Malapalli at about 10.15 p.m. on the day of incident is also corroborated by the
evidence of other witnesses.
this purpose, we would first refer to the evidence of P.W.5 Sadhu Anna Reddi
who was given license as a dealer of a Fair Price Shop at village Guriginjakunta
after suspending the license of accused No.1. It is his say that on the
complaint by him as well as the deceased, the RDO had suspended the Fair Price
Shops dealership of A1 and had given a temporary dealership of that shop in
that area to him. It is his further say that on 25.9.1990 he went to RDOs
office and had deposited Rs.11,000/- in the office of MRO. Thereafter he went
to the house of the deceased where P.W. 1 was also there. On 26.9.1990, he went
to Rayachoti by morning bus. Thereafter P.W1, Venkataramana Reddi P.W.10 and
the deceased also came there by 9.00 a.m. At about 4.30
p.m., he along with
P.W.1, deceased and P.W.10 went to the godown at Rayachoti and lifted the rice
all of them went to the house of Revenue Inspector, Sambepalli and inquired
about the manner of maintenance of records. From there they went to the house
of Bhaskar Reddi, a Clerk of MRO and after talking with him, they came back to Rayachoti
bus stand at 9.00 p.m. It is his say that he had purchased
bus tickets for all of them.
down at his village after handing over the tickets to PW10. Thereafter he
learnt that Devachandra Reddy was murdered. So he went at the spot at about 11.00 p.m. He has clarified that his village is at about 4
furlongs from the village of the deceased. This witness has also stated that on
25.9.1990, accused No. 1 threatened that before distribution of rice, the head
of the deceased would be removed. On this aspect, in the cross examination he
has stated that A1 had given the said threat three days back and he has not
advised the deceased to report the matter to the police. He has also denied the
suggestion in the cross-examination that no such threat was given.
next witness is P.W.6 M. Nagaiah who was working as MRO (Mandal Revenue
Officer), Sambepalli. According to him he knew A1 and A2 as well as P.Ws 1, 5
and 10. He has stated that A1 was having Fair Price Shop for about 10 years. On
instructions of the Joint Collector, Cuddapah, he conducted inquiry about the
activities of A1 in respect of his Fair Price shop and had sent a report to the
said authority in the month of June 1990. On the basis of the said report,
dealership of Fair Price shop of A1 was suspended and temporary licence was
given to P.W.5. He has corroborated the prosecution version that on the date of
incident P.Ws.5 and 10 came to his office with demand draft for the purchase of
rice and sugar for the said shop and left the office in the afternoon on the
same day. He had also issued release orders of the quota. This aspect is
further corroborated by P.W. 7, Bhaskar Reddi who was working as a Head Clerk in
the Revenue Inspectors Office at Sambepalli at whose house the witnesses along
with the deceased had gone on 26.9.1990 at about 7.00 p.m. and also by P.W.12 Pradeep
Kumar who was working as Mandal Revenue Inspector who saw them together at the godown
where P.W.5 came for lifting rice for food grain shop in a tractor.
independent person who corroborates the say of P.Ws.1 and 10, is P.W.8 G. Ramachandra
who is not at all connected with the deceased or the witnesses. P.W.8 was a RTC
bus conductor at Rayachoti depot. It is his say that at about 9.30 p.m. on 26.9.1990, the last trip of the bus started from Rayachoti
for going to Kotagadapalli. It is his further say that he was knowing P.W1, PW
5, PW 10 and the deceased who boarded the bus in the last trip. PW5 purchased
the tickets for him and the other three persons.
got down from the said bus at earlier bus stop and at the next stop, PW 1,
deceased and PW 10 got down at about 10.15 p.m. It is his say that thereafter bus went ahead at its destination. On the
next day morning, the bus started at about 5.00 a.m. for going to Rayachoti. On the way, PW 1 Ramachandra Reddi got into the
bus at Malapalli and got down at Motakatla village. P.W.1 informed him that Devachandra
Reddi was murdered. He has denied the suggestion that at the instance and
threat by the police, he was deposing falsely and mentioning the names of the
prosecution witnesses and other particulars. In his cross-examination nothing
material is elicited for not believing his say. In our view, P.W. 8 a bus conductor,
is absolutely independent witness neither connected with the accused nor with
the witnesses. He was knowing the deceased as well as the other witnesses as
deposed by him. He corroborates the main witness, P.W.1 on the aspect that he
boarded the bus at 5.30
a.m. on 27th September
for going to the police station for lodging the FIR. He was also informed by
the witness about the murder of the deceased.
evidence further reveals that deceased along with three other witnesses boarded
the said bus from Rayachoti for returning to their village and that PWs 1, 10
and the deceased were together and they got down from the bus at the same time.
This establishes the presence of the witnesses till 10.15 p.m. on 26th September and the incident had occurred at about 10.30 p.m. Admittedly, P.W.1 is resident of a different village
which is at a distance of 64 to 70 kms. In this set of circumstances, it is
difficult to accept the contention of the learned counsel for the accused that
P.W. 1 came subsequently at the scene of offence or was called for by the widow
of the deceased after the murder. It is also to be stated that R. Ammanamma,
widow of the deceased (P.W.2) has also corroborated the version of P.W. 1 and
P.W.10. She has also stated that P.W. 1 had come to their house with regard to
their sericulture cultivation. On the date of incident, deceased along with
P.W. 1 and P.W. 10 had gone to Rayachoti and at about 10.15 p.m. she was informed by the witnesses that accused were
assaulting the deceased. She along with the witnesses and her daughter went at
the spot and found the dead body of her husband lying in a bleeding condition.
She has denied the suggestion in the cross-examination that she was not
informed by P.W. 1 and P.W. 10 with regard to the death of her husband. P.W. 3,
R. Sridevi, the daughter of the deceased also supports the prosecution version
on this aspect.
senior counsel made a forceful attempt on the strength of total absence of any
injury on the person of P.W.-1, to contend that if the accused were the real
assailants it was extremely improbable that the assailants would have spared
PW-1 altogether from the attack. To bolster up the said contention learned
senior counsel invited our attention to a further fact that PW-1 was also one
of the signatories to the petition filed against the first accused for revoking
the dealership conferred on first accused as an Authorised Ration Dealer.
Counsel also pointed out that PW-1 did not make even a little cry when his
brother-in-law (deceased) was brutally attacked by a gang of armed assailants.
against those arguments Ms. T. Anamika, who argued for the respondent State,
contended that the role of PW-1 in the memorandum presented against the
dealership of first accused was very minimal and that too he was only one among
the very many signatories therein, and that it is not necessary that the
assailants should have taken any particular notice of the insignificant role of
further contended that the venue of the attack being within the vicinity of the
house of the deceased, indicates that the assailants were prowling for the
deceased and not anyone else. According to the counsel it is quite possible
that first accused would have brought his co-assailants to the scene for
launching the attack on the deceased and not anybody else, particularly since
nobody would have expected PW-1 to be present at that venue. Ms.
also pointed out that the widow of the deceased testified to the fact that soon
after the occurrence it was PW-1 who rushed to her house and reported to her
about the incident. Learned counsel contended that if the evidence of PW-1 can
be believed it would be the best assurance that PW-1 was at the scene then.
find considerable force in the above contention. The features highlighted by
Ms. Anamika are quite sufficient to override the contentions made against the
probability of PW-1 being a witness to the occurrence.
regarding the fact that PW-1 did not make a hue and cry at the scene, it cannot
be counted against the credibility of his testimony, for, he would have been
dump-founded at the sight of the ghastly attack made on his brother-in-law.
That apart, he would have instinctively avoided going forward at that stage.
P.P. Rao, learned senior counsel then made a strong argument based on want of
sufficient light for PW-1 and PW-10, to identify the assailants correctly. We
cannot overlook a broad fact that the light available then was sufficient for
the assailants to correctly identify the victim. If that be so, the same light
which was available would be sufficient for a watching and curiously looking
witness to identify the assailants in the crime.
P.P. Rao, learned Senior Counsel arguing for the appellants further submitted
that no reliance can be placed on the evidence of P.W.1 because there was no
necessity for him to accompany the deceased at night time, as he was resident
of a village which was approximately 70 kms. away.
prosecution even though examined three officers from revenue department to
establish the presence of the witnesses at Rayachoti, has failed to examine any
officer from Sericulture Department where the deceased had gone for taking
proper advice; that the prosecution has not explained as to why P.W. 5
purchased the tickets for all;
P.W. 10 did not state before the police that P.W. 5 had purchased tickets for
all that the Investigating Officer did not make any entry about the tickets
being thrown away;
the prosecution has failed to prove as to why the witness had taken torch light
while going to Rayachoti village.
view, those submissions require to be rejected mainly on the ground that P.W. 1
is related to the deceased. His going and residing at the house of the deceased
is corroborated by the evidence of P.Ws 2 and 3.
has specifically deposed that P.W.1 had come to their house before few days of
the incident. They were together at Rayachoti is also established by
independent government officers. Not only this, an independent witness, namely,
the bus conductor has specifically deposed that he saw along with the deceased P.Ws
1, 5 and 10 in the bus which started form Rayachoti at about 9.30 p.m. In this
set of circumstances, it is difficult to accept the contention that P.W.1 was
not at all present at the time of occurrence.
of P.W.1, therefore, cannot be termed as impossible. Further, some variations
in the story of P.W.1 and 10 as to who was walking ahead and who was following
at the time of attack would not make their evidence in any way doubtful. Such
types of variations are natural unless the witnesses are tutored. Further, the
reason for purchase of bus-tickets by P.W.5 is not required to be explained and
this submission does not require any further consideration.
case, it depends upon the relation and the amount of bus-tickets is absolutely
small one. Similarly, the reason for keeping the torch is also not required to
be stated as it depends upon the practice of villagers who are required to
travel at night time in the area having no electric lights or street lights.
learned counsel further submitted that grounds given by the trial court for not
believing the evidence of P.W.10@@
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the High Court materially@@ JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ erred in interfering with
the acquittal order. In our view, the said submission is without any substance
because the trial court materially erred in treating this witness as a hostile
witness only on the ground that the Public Prosecutor after obtaining the
permission had asked a question with regard to the role played by the accused
6 on the basis of his police statement. In our view, there was no reason for
the learned Judge to treat this witness as not supporting the prosecution case.
On the contrary, this would mean that the witness was truthful and he has not
supported his police version with regard to the identification of accused Nos.
4 and 6. From this also, he cannot be dubbed as a liar to whom no credence can
be given as held by the learned Sessions Judge. In our view, the approach of
the learned Sessions Judge in treating this witness as a hostile witness and
terming him as a liar is, to say the least, wholly unjustified and
learned senior counsel further pointed out that the Sessions Judge has rightly
not believed the evidence of P.W. 8 who is a bus conductor by holding that P.W.
8 was required to attend the duties for several trips and it is unnatural on
his part to say not only about four particulars persons travelled in the bus,
but also that P.W.
purchased the bus tickets for three other passengers. In our view, it is hardly
a way of appreciating the evidence of an independent witness who was knowing
the deceased as well as the witnesses. Bus conductor remembered the incident in
view of the fact that they boarded the last trip from Rayachoti and on the next
morning P.W.1 boarded the said bus at 5.30 a.m. for going to the police station and during the talk with P.W.1, he was
informed about the murder of the deceased. As stated above, in our view, he is
an independent person not connected with the accused or the witnesses and there
is no reason to doubt his evidence. In this view of the matter, in our view,
the High Court was fully justified in reversing the acquittal order passed by
the Sessions Court whose approach in appreciating the evidence of the material
witnesses was absolutely unreasonable and unjustified. In the result, the
appeal is dismissed.