The Supreme Court ruled that the evidence given by witnesses cannot be discarded merely because they were the relatives of the deceased victim.
All the accused formed an unlawful assembly armed with hunting sickles, came from behind the sumo vehicle and surrounded it near Dr. Kabir Clinic at Gayithri Estate, Kurnool, in which the deceased Rajasekhar Reddy and his brother M. Nageswara Reddy and other supporters Shaik Akbar Basha, P. Sekhar and S. Venkagamuni were travelling, and S. Rajesh was the driver. Accused forcibly opened front left side door and dragged out the deceased by saying that “Ee Naqkodukulaganni Narakandir Raa” and immediately hacked him with hunting sickles indiscriminately while other Accused hit the glass windows of the sumo vehicle with hunting sickles and broke the glasses. Accused hacked the driver Rajesh and he sustained bleeding injuries on his right shoulder, hand and side ribs, while other Accused chased Prosecution witnesses and when they were fleeing injuries were caused to one of the witnesses and later all they fled away. The deceased Rajasekhar Reddy died on the spot whereas PW6 & PW7 were taken to Government General Hospital, Kurnool. On the report of Nageswara Reddy a case was registered against the accused for the above said offences.
The original complainant as well as the State submitted that the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court acquitting Accused Nos. 1 to 3 is not sustainable.
They contended that the High Court has doubted the complaint/FIR mainly on the ground of alleged interpolation of time of lodging the FIR and on the ground that there was a delay of seven hours in lodging the FIR and that the FIR was sent to the Magistrate at 4:30 a.m. on the next morning.
They argued that the High Court had not properly appreciated and considered the fact that the FIR was sent to the Magistrate within a period of 24 hours as required under the law.
The original accused contended that having found the interpolation/correction in the FIR and when it has been found that 0.30 a.m. has been converted to 9:30 p.m. and having found that even the FIR was received by the Magistrate at 4:30 a.m. on 19.01.2007, though the distance between the police station and the Magistrate Court is hardly four kilometers and there was a delay of seven hours in sending the FIR to the Magistrate, the High Court has rightly disbelieved the FIR given by PW1 and has rightly observed that there are all possibilities of implicating the accused falsely.
The division bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna opined that the High Court has unnecessarily given weightage to some minor contradictions. The contradictions, if any, are not material contradictions which can affect the case of the prosecution as a whole. PW6 was an injured eye-witness and therefore his presence ought not to have been doubted and being an injured eye-witness, as per the settled proposition of law laid down by the Court in catena of decisions, his deposition has a greater reliability and credibility.
The court stated that merely because the witnesses were the relatives of the deceased, their evidence cannot be discarded solely on this ground. Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court has materially erred in discarding the deposition/evidence of Prosecution witnesses.
The court held that the High Court has committed a grave error in reversing the judgment and order passed by the trial Court convicting Accused for the offences under Sections 148 & 302 IPC and the High Court has erred in acquitting the Accused.
Case title: M. Nageswara Reddy v/s The State of Andhra Pradesh and Ors.
Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 72-73 OF 2022