(1.)These are six petitions which have been presented so this Court on behalf of three groups of persons in the following circumstances.
(2.)On 30-10-1948, the Military Governor of Hyderabad by virtue of the powers delegated to him by H. E. H. the Nizam enacted the Special Tribunals Regulation (No. 5 [V] of 1358-F), which was amended by several later Regulations issued on22-5-1949, 10-7-1949, 23rd July and 30-10-1949. The Regulation provided among other things that the Military Governor may constitute and Special Tribunal or Tribunals, each consisting of 3 members appointed by him, and that he may by general or special order direct that these Tribunals shall try any offence, whether committed before or after the commencement of the Regulation, or any class of offences. Section 8 of the Regulation empowered the Military Governor to direct, by order, that in such circumstances and under such conditions, if any, as may be specified in the direction, any power or duty conferred or imposed upon him by the Regulation may be exercised or discharged by any other authority. In accordance with the Regulation, certain Tribunals were constituted, and one of the Tribunals Tribunal A for Nalgonda dist.- proceeded to try certain cases made over to it by the Civil Administrator of Nalgonda under the powers vested in him by the Military Governor. Among the cases tried by this Tribunal were also three cases in which the petnrs. were concerned, these being regd. as criminal cases Nos. 14, 17 and 18 of 1949. These cases were based on three charge-sheets submitted by one Mr. Hanumantha Naidu, a senior police officer of Nalgonda dist., one of which was No.14 dated 7-4-1949, and the Other two were Nos. 14 and 15 dated 20-7-1949. In these charge-sheets, the accused were generally refd. to as "Communists wedded to the policy of overthrowing the Govt. by violence and setting up in its place Communist Raj." and the specific cases made out against them were briefly as follows. In the first case (criminal case No. 14 of 1949), the charge-sheet stated that the accused went to a certain village in Nalgonda dist. on 21-9-1948 "in khaki uniform and holding unnotified firearms," caught hold of four persons as they bad not paid the full subscription demanded of them, decoyed to the outskrits of the village and then "killed them by cutting their throats." In the second case (Criminal Case No. 17), it was stated that on 6-4-1949, at about 9 A.M, two of the accused came to a certain village and began to fire their guns, but when "the public" approached them asking them to surrender they ran away and joined the other persons accused in the case. Later on, all the accused "marched on the villagers" and opened fire at them indiscriminately with the result that one of them received an injury in his right thigh which subsequently proved fatal, and another received a minor injury on his left hand. The version given at the trial in this case was slightly different and shows that the two accused who had visited the village were chased by 50 or 100 persons to a place called Madireddychelka where the other accused joined them, and after parleying with the chasers, accused 4 fired and hit one of the villagers on the thigh and the latter died. Thereupon the accused chased the remaining villagers, firing their guns, and one of the bullets grazed the middle finger of one of the villagers and caused a slight injury to it. In the third case (criminal case No. 18), the facts were stated to be these: On the 15th May, at about midnight, the accused visited Kasthala village, carrying firearms and dressed in khaki uniform. They got upon the terrace of one Kankayya where one Natala Rama Reddy was sleeping, caught hold of him and took him forcibly to the outskirts of the village in spite of the protests of a number of villagers who had followed, and "killed him by firing gunshots at him."
(3.)Upon these facts, the trial of the petnrs. proceeded, and they were ultimately convicted of murder and sentenced to death, and also convicted of certain other offences including the offence of carrying firearms without licenses and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. After their conviction, the petnrs. appealed to the Hyderabad H. C., but their convictions and sentences were confirmed. Thereafter, they tried to obtain the leave of the H. C. for appealing to the Judicial Committee of Hyderabad, but, while their applns. were still pending, the Const. Ind. came into force and since the Judicial Committee ceased to function under the new Constitution they amended their original appln. by asking for leave to appeal to this Ct. under Art.134 (c) of the Constitution. This appln. being unsuccessful, they applied to this Ct. for special leave to appeal, but that appln. was dismissed on the ground that this Ct. had no jurisdiction under Art. 186 of the Constitution to hear an appeal from a judgment delivered by the H. C. at Hyderabad before 26-1-1950, since that Ct. was not within the territory of India. The petnrs. then made applns. to the H. C. under Art. 226 of the Constitution and those applns. having been rejected, they filed two sets of petns. in this Ct. one under Art. 82 of the Constitution, and the other for special leave to appeal against the order of the H. C. refusing to grant them relief under Art. 226.