The woman died in 2002 and a complaint was lodged in 2008 claiming it to be a murder

The Madras High Court Bench here has put at an end to the mystery over the death of an aged woman J. Mariammal of Tiruchi on December 21, 2002 by rejecting the argument of her nephew that she did not die naturally but was murdered by her relatives who did not want her to change a will executed in favour of them.

Dismissing a criminal revision petition filed by her nephew V. Singaravelan, Justice P. R. Shivakumar held that a Judicial Magistrate in Tiruchi had rightly rejected the petitioner's theory of his paternal aunt having been murdered for want of sufficient evidence to prove the claim. The Magistrate had passed the order on September 29, 2010.

The petitioner had lodged a private complaint with the Magistrate only on August 11, 2008 after a delay of nearly six years since the death of his aunt. According to him, the aged woman had executed a will in April 2002 bequeathing her properties in favour of him as well as three other relatives.

In December 2002, she met with an accident and was hospitalised. Lying on the death bed, she asked her foster daughter Kanagavalli to call for her advocate in order to change the will. On coming to know of the development, the three accused killed the woman by administering excessive sedative medicines.

Further alleging that the homicidal death was suppressed by cremating the body, the petitioner claimed to have come to know about the incident through people who were privy to the occurrence.

On receipt of the private complaint, the Magistrate referred it to the Kottai police station in Tiruchi for investigation.

A case was registered under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code. But after concluding the investigation, the police filed a final report for closing the case after terming it as a ‘mistake of fact.' Not in agreement with such a conclusion, the petitioner filed a protest petition before the Magistrate.

Thereafter, the Magistrate examined the petitioner as well as other witnesses in favour of him on oath, recorded their evidence, perused the related documents including the investigation reports of the police and refused to commit the case for trial before a Sessions court on coming to the conclusion that the death was natural and not homicidal as claimed.

Holding that the Magistrate had adopted the right procedures while dealing with the case, Mr. Justice Shivakumar said that a Magistrate dealing with a private complaint need not mechanically refer a case to a Sessions court thereby making the individuals concerned to face trial unnecessarily.

The Magistrate could appreciate the evidence available and ascertain whether there were sufficient grounds to prosecute the accused.

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