Vs. State of A.P. & Ors  Insc 529 (10 December 2002)
Babu & Arun Kumar. Arun Kumar, J.
APPEAL NO. 659 OF 1995
two appeals arise from the judgment dated 9th April, 1992 of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh
acquitting all the accused persons. In this Court Criminal Appeal No.655 of
1995 had been filed by the complainant while Criminal Appeal No.659 of 1995 was
filed by the State challenging the order of acquittal passed by the High Court.
As per facts on record 24 persons were charged and tried by the First
Additional Sessions Judge, Guntur, State
of Andhra Pradesh. Seven charges were framed. Accused
A.1 to A.5 and A.7 were charged under Sections 148 and 302 read with 149 of the
Indian Penal Code while other accused were charged under Sections 323 and 324
of the said Code. The charge under Section 302 was for the murder of Kota Subbarao
while the charges under Sections 323 and 324 were directed against some of the
other accused persons. The learned Additional Sessions Judge convicted accused
A.1 to A.5 and A.7 for offences under Sections 148, 302 read with Section 149
IPC and sentenced each of them to three months' rigorous imprisonment under
Section 148 IPC and to undergo life imprisonment for offences under Section 302
read with Section 149 IPC. For the charges framed under Section 323 and 324,
all the accused were acquitted. Aggrieved by the convictions and sentences
passed against them, the convicted accused preferred an appeal before the High
Court while the State preferred an appeal against acquittals so far as the
other accused persons were concerned.
prosecution case is that admittedly there are two factions in the village Manchala
District Guntur. One faction belongs to the Congress-I party while the other
faction belongs to the Telugu Desam party. The deceased was a leader of the
Congress-I party while the accused persons belonged to the TDP. About four
months prior to the Assembly Elections held in November, 1989, the deceased was
beaten by A.2 and others. On the date of the Assembly Elections also, son of
P.W.3 and other associates belonging to the party of the deceased were beaten.
On the night of 20th
April, 1990, a drama
was being staged in the village in which both the political factions were
participating. About 500 to 600 people had assembled to watch the drama. The
deceased was also among them. The drama started at about 10.00 p.m. After sometime there was some commotion. P.W.2 was
beaten by A.1 and A.23. On the intervention of some leaders peace was restored
and the drama was resumed. Shortly after midnight when the drama was still going on, the deceased left for his house. The
24 accused who were armed with weapons including battle axes, spears, iron
rods, sticks and soda bottles, chased the deceased. When they reached near the
house of Chandu Paramaiah, A.1 and A.2 gave axe blows on the head of the
deceased. A.3 also dealt a blow with a battle axe on the head of the deceased.
When the deceased entered the house of Paramaiah, A.2 followed him and pulled
him out of the house. A.4, A.5 and A.7 also dealt blows with an axe on the head
of the deceased. When the deceased fell down, all the accused beat him
to 4 and N. Pitchayya intervened, A.6, A.9, A.16, A.20,
A.21 and A.23 beat him with sticks. P.W.1, who was watching this drama, came
out to answer a call of nature. When he reached the house of Ch. Venkata Narayana,
he noticed all the accused persons attacking the deceased. After the attack,
the accused left the scene of offence leaving the victim dead. A.15 and A.7
went to the police station which is about 5 Kms. Away and gave Ex.P.24 report
to the Sub- Inspector of Police at about 12.45 a.m. on 21st April,
1990. P.W.7 registered
the case against six named persons and others. He went for investigations to
the village at about 3.00 a.m. P.W.1 who is bother-in-law of the deceased is
said to have handed over a prepared report as per Ex.P.6 to P.W.7 mentioning
names of A.1 to A.11 and others saying that these accused persons had attacked
the deceased with sticks, iron rods and soda bottles and axes. Ex.P.7 is the
copy of the FIR. He contacted P.W.7, the Inspector of Police and informed him
about the occurrence. P.W.9 went to the village and prepared Ex.P.8 as an
Observation Report. He also prepared Ex.P.11 a rough sketch of the scene of
occurrence. He held inquest over the bodies of the deceased, examined P.W.1 to
P.W.4 and others during the inquest. Ex.P.9 is the inquest report. It is during
inquest that the number of accused persons became 24. After the inquest, the
dead body was sent for post-mortem examination. P.W.5 conducted the post-mortem
examination on 22nd
April, 1990. Ex.P.1 is
the post- mortem report. According to the post mortem report death occurred due
to shock and haemorrhage.
learned Sessions Judge mainly relied on the evidence of eye-witnesses, that is,
P.Ws. 1 to 4 in convicting accused persons A.1 to A.5 and A.7. The evidence of
the eye-witnesses P.W.1 to P.W. 4 showed that overt acts were attributed to A1
to A5 and A7.
names of these accused find mention in the FIR, Ex.P.6.
as per the judgment under appeal, the High Court acquitted all the accused
persons. The following points weighed with the High Court for this purpose:
FIR, Ex.P.6 was delayed and could be result of deliberations. Non mention of
injuries of PW 2 to PW 4 in the FIR was also taken as a factor to discredit the
eye-witnesses were interested witnesses, there were no independent witnesses.
Discrepancy between medical and oral evidence regarding injuries suffered by
There was no light at the place of occurrence which casts doubt on the veracity
of the evidence of the eye-witnesses.
have heard the learned counsel for the parties. The learned counsel for the
appellant Ms. K. Amareswari, Senior Advocate vehemently argued that none of the
above noted grounds which prevailed with the High court were valid and
according to her, the High Court gravely erred in acquitting the accused on
these grounds. She dealt with each ground separately in order to demonstrate
that none of these grounds taken individually or together could lead to
acquittal of the accused.
as the FIR, Ex.P.6 is concerned, the version contained therein is supported by
the evidence of PW 1 who, in fact, had lodged the FIR. The crime was committed
around mid night i.e. about 12.00 o'clock
in the night whereas the FIR was handed over to P.W. 7 as soon as he came to
the village after receiving information about the incident in the early morning
hours. The Police Station is said to be 5 kms. away from the place of
occurrence, therefore, it cannot be said that there was any delay in lodging
the FIR. In the FIR names of accused A1 to A11, A17 were mentioned. The FIR
further mentions that there were other accused also involved. It was quite
natural that all the names could not have been given in the FIR. There is
mention in the FIR of the overt acts on the part of accused A1 to A5 and A7. We
are therefore inclined to accept the argument of the learned counsel for the
appellant that no fault can be found with the FIR, Ex.P.6. Mere non mention of
names of all the 24 accused persons and details of injuries said to have been
suffered by some of the accused in the FIR does not render the FIR weak or
eye-witnesses being dubbed as interested witnesses, and therefore, unreliable,
we have to observe that the account of the incident given by the eye-witnesses
is consistent and tallies with each other. The said account also finds mention
in the FIR which lends credence to the statements of eye-witnesses about the
occurrence. Some of the eye-witnesses themselves received injuries in the
course of the incident which establishes their presence on the scene of
occurrence. If they were present at the time of incident, there is no reason
that they would be telling lies specially when a person had admittedly died.
P.W.1 was said to be related to the deceased but that fact alone does not
render the evidence of P.W.2 to be ignored. Often it is found that the
eye-witnesses are either related to the victim or have some interest common
with the deceased. This is so because normally strangers are not likely to be
found at the time of occurrence of a crime. Only safeguard in this behalf is,
that one has to be cautious in relying on the evidence of such eye-witnesses.
When, as in the present case, the eye-witness account given by all the
eye-witnesses is natural, consistent and supported by other evidence on record,
there is no reason to doubt the statements of the eye-witnesses. It is also to
be noted that in the peculiar facts of the present case, independent
eye-witnesses could not be available. The entire village is admittedly said to
be divided on political lines. The persons belonging to the rival parties would
not come forward to give evidence, therefore, only the persons belonging to the
political party to which the victim belonged could give evidence.
all these reasons, the decision of the High Court in doubting the veracity of
the evidence of the eye-witnesses cannot be sustained.
question of discrepancy between the medical and oral evidence of the
eye-witnesses, a reference has to be made to the statement of P.W. 5, the
autopsy Surgeon. He has given a list of 27 injuries found on the body of the
deceased. Injuries No.1 to 6 and 17 are on the head. Injuries Nos. 1,2,3,17,23
and 26 are cut lacerations.
cut lacerations could have been caused by a heavy cutting weapon just like an
axe. The eye-witnesses had referred to axe blows given on the head of the
deceased by A1 to A3. Only thing is that the autopsy surgeon did not say that
the head injuries could have been caused by axe blows. This is the reason for
alleged discrepancy between the medical and oral evidence. The cut laceration as
stated above could be said to be as a result of axe blows, and therefore, we
need not take this as discrepancy between medical ad oral evidence. Injuries
No.13, 15, 16, 18, 24 and 25 were described by the doctor as stab injuries.
These injuries could have been caused by a spear also which is a sharp edged
when doctor described certain injuries as stab injuries the same could well be
caused by a spear. Injury No.1 alongwith injury No.17 was itself sufficient to
cause death, and therefore, could be described as a fatal injury. The way we
look at it, it appears that medical evidence is consistent with oral evidence,
it is not possible to say that there is any discrepancy between medical and
the alleged absence of light at the time of occurrence, it is only to be noted
that at least at 3-4 places, it has come in evidence on record that on the
electric pole near the place of occurrence, there was electric tube which was
lighted and which provided sufficient light. P.W.1 stated in his
examination-in-chief that "by the side of the well, there is an electric
pole and a tube was fixed and the same was burning". P.W. 2 also stated
that a tube light was fitted to an electric pole near the water well and that
tube light was providing sufficient light to enable one to witness the
occurrence. Again P.W. 3 said the same thing in his examination-in-chief. He
referred to a tube light that was fitted to the electric pole near the water
well and the tube light was functioning. He specifically stated that he
witnessed the occurrence in that light. Thus, the doubt cast by the High Court
on the evidence of the eye-witnesses on account of absence of light at that
hour of the night when the incident took place, is wholly contrary to the evidence
on record. These reasons which were taken into consideration by the High Court
for acquitting the accused persons, are therefore, unfounded and have to be
present case, some of the glaring facts noted below are beyond controversy or
entire village was divided on political lines into two factions. The deceased
was the leader of one of the political faction.
There have been previous quarrels between the rival factions and the deceased
was earlier beaten up by the persons belonging to the opposite faction.
occurrence took place in open field and in the presence of so many persons,
several of whom were the aggressors.
is a case of brutal murder of an individual. The deceased received as many as
27 injuries as mentioned in the post- mortem report. Some of the injuries were
caused by sharp edged weapons.
Keeping in view the fact that the Police Station is 5 kms. away from the place
of occurrence and the incident took place at the dead of night at about 12 o'clock, the FIR was lodged promptly and investigation
started promptly, almost the entire village was watching the drama which was
being staged on that fateful night. The presence of the eye- witnesses who
belong to the same village at the time of occurrence was, therefore, natural.
When the crime was committed in the open and so many persons were present, it
could not said that the eye- witnesses were telling lies. The account of the
incident given by the eye-witnesses, as many as four in number, is consistent
and tallies with each other. Even to the extent of mention of availability of
tube light at the scene of occurrence, all the witnesses are consistent. This
shows that evidence of eye-witnesses is natural and credible.
all these aspects in view and on a careful consideration of the entire evidence
on record, we are of the considered view that the High Court clearly erred in
acquitting the accused persons on the basis of flimsy and baseless grounds,
some of which were contrary to the record. On the other hand, we find that the
learned Sessions Judge gave a well considered judgment convicting the six
accused. No fault can be found with the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge.
Therefore, we set aside the impugned judgment of High Court and restore that of
the First Additional Judge, Guntur, Andhra
appeals are allowed. The accused persons shall be taken into custody forthwith
to serve the remaining sentence as per the sentences awarded to each of them by
the Sessions Court.