P VENKATESWARLU Vs. STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: ANDHRA PRADESH)
STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
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(1.)These 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 Ss. 148 and 302 read with S. 149 of the Indian Penal Code while other accused were charged under Ss. 323 and 324 of the said Code. The charge under S. 302 was for the murder of Kota Subbarao while the charges under Ss. 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 Ss. 148, 302 read with S. 149, I.P.C. and sentenced each of them to three months rigorous imprisonment under S. 148, I.P.C. and to undergo life imprisonment for offences under S. 302 read with S. 149, I.P.C. For the charges framed under Ss. 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.
(2.)The 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 indiscriminately. P.Ws. 2 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 brother-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.
(3.)The 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. The names of these accused find mention in the FIR, Ex. P.6.
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