Confirms acquittal of eight, accused of brutally assaulting and hacking a youth to death in Tiruchi

The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai has dismissed a State appeal and confirmed the acquittal of eight individuals accused of hacking a youth to death opposite to Aruna Milk Depot near Ponmalai ‘C’ Type Quarters in Tiruchi city on April 3, 1998.

Finding no grounds to reverse the trial court judgement, a Division Bench comprising Justice M. Jaichandren and Justice S. Nagamuthu said that in the present case, as basic a document as a complaint supposedly lodged by the victim’s brother to the police did not inspire the confidence of the court.

According to the prosecution, the murder had taken place due to a long standing enmity between the victim Jeyasunder and the eight individuals J. Palaniraj, R. Ravi alias Muttakadai Ravi, P. Madhavan, S. Xavier, M. Sebastian, I. ‘Kokku’ James alias James Alex, A. Ravi and A. Elangovan apart from their accomplices Krishnamoorthy who died even before the trial commenced and Charles who remained absconding.

On the day of the incident, the ten individuals were waiting near the milk depot at about 5.30 am when the victim rode there in a motorcycle after dropping his brother Rokku alias Veeramohan a few metres before the place of occurrence. As per five eye-witnesses, the victim was assaulted brutally and attacked with deadly weapons leading to his death on the spot.

However, the trial court acquitted all the eight on the ground that the evidence adduced by the eye witnesses, including the victim’s brother, was unbelievable and not worthy of acceptance as they had made contrary statements at different stages of the case.

It also felt not safe to rely on their evidence especially when they were associated to the deceased in one way or the other.

Agreeing with the lower court in toto, the Division Bench said: “In our considered opinion too, these witnesses are highly unbelievable.”

They had spoken about the specific overt acts committed by all the ten accused during the course of investigation, but during the trial, for reasons best known to them, they had implicated only three of the accused and not others. Further, the victim’s brother had deposed before the trial court that he had lodged a complaint written in his own hand to the police. However, what was available in the court records was a complaint deduced in writing by a Sub-Inspector of Police attached to Ponmalai Police Station.

Thus, it was clear that one complaint had been substituted for another and it is a very serious infirmity, the Bench said.

Of all, it is a settled law that acquittal of accused by a trial court adds to the presumption of innocence of the accused.

Unless it is shown that a trial court judgement was perverse, it would not be possible to reverse it in an appeal. “In this case, the prosecution has not shown any such perversity in the lower court judgement,” the Bench said and confirmed the verdict passed by the First Additional District and Sessions Court in Tiruchi on February 19, 2004.

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