(1.)The appellant along with 15 other accused was put to trial before III Additional Sessions Judge, Guntur in Sessions Case No. 18 of 1994 to answer the following charges :
"Charge No. 1 :- That you A1 to A16 at about 5.30 p.m. on 13th day of October, 1992 on the highway between Sattenapalli and Macherla in between 38/2 and 38/4 K. M. Stone after crossing Pakalapadu major canal, formed into one group and were members of unlawful assembly and did in prosecution of the common object of such assembly viz., of killing the deceased person R. Venkateswarlu son of China Bapaiah, 35 years. V. A. O. of Tondapi village, and rioting and at that time you were armed with deadly weapons like country made bombs, axes, spears and knives which are dangerous in nature and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 148 of the Indian Penal Code and within my cognizance;
Charge No. 2 :- That you A-1 to A-16 at about the same time, date and place and in the course of same transaction as mentioned above; charged the deceased R. Venkateswarlu son of China Bapaiah, 35 years. V.A.O. of Tondapi village while he was coming on the motor cycle and when he reached the spot, all of you emerged from the bushes on either side of the road and that A10, A12, A8 and A16 hurled bombs and when the deceased fell down all of you surrounded him and that A-1, A-9 and A-10 of you axed on his head and that A-1 and A-2 of you cut the throat of the deceased with axe and long knife and that A-4, A-6 and A-7 of you stabbed him with spears on abdomen and lower portion and that A-5 stabbed him with spear on abdomen and that A-3 axed him near right ear. A-8 stabbed with spear on his neck A-10 axed on the fore-head of him. A-11, A-12 and A-13 with spears and A-14 and A-16 with axes attacked the deceased indiscriminately and A-15 with knife stabbed on his neck resulting in his death instantaneously and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 302 read with 149 of the Indian Penal Code and within my cognizance;
Charge No. 3 :- That you A-8, A-10, A-12 and A-16 of you at about the same time, date and place and in the course of same transaction as mentioned above; hurled countrymade bombs at the deceased R. Venkateswarlu in order to kill him while in possession of the Explosive Substances which are dangerous in nature which bombs exploded and thereby committed an offence punishable under Sections 3 and 5 of Explosive Substances Act and within my cognizance."
(2.)The substance of the above charges that on 13th October, 1992 at about 5.30 p.m. accused 1-16 formed themselves into an unlawful assembly and caused the death of one R. Venkateswarlu by hurling bombs and causing bodily injuries by axes, knives and spears.
During the trial accused No. 2 expired and the trial against him stood abated. After concluding of the trial, the trial judge found that accused Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10 were guilty of the offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 149, I.P.C. They were convicted and sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life and also to pay a fine of Rs. 500/- and in default to suffer simple imprisonment for 3 months. They were further sentenced to undergo Rigorous imprisonment for one year each for the offence under Section 148, I.P.C. Both the sentences were ordered to run concurrently. The trial Judge, however, found that accused Nos. 8, 10, 12 and 16 were not guilty of the offence under Sections 3 and 5 of the Explosive Substances Act and they were, accordingly, acquitted under the said charge. Rest of the accused, i.e. accused Nos. 6, 9 and 11 to 16 were not found guilty of the offences, for which they were charged.
(3.)Being aggrieved, accused Nos. 1, 3 and 4 preferred Criminal Appeal No. 555 of 1998 and accused Nos. 5, 7, 8 and 10 preferred Criminal Appeal No. 556 of 1998 in the High Court.