The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday set aside the conviction and life sentence imposed on six men and a woman, all relatives belonging to Musiri taluk in Tiruchi district, for having allegedly murdered the father of the first two accused on December 22, 2011, over a property dispute.

Justices A. Selvam and V.S. Ravi acquitted all the seven accused in the murder case as about 13 prosecution witnesses had turned hostile before the trial court. Yet, the Principal District and Sessions Court in Tiruchi had convicted them on November 21, 2013, and sentenced them to life imprisonment on the basis of supposed extra- judicial confession made by one of the accused.

The High Court judges said the Supreme Court, in more than one case, had held that extra-judicial confessions were nothing but a weak piece of evidence which should be proved like any other fact and their value would depend upon the veracity of the person to whom they were made.

In the present case, the confession had been reportedly made to a Revenue Inspector in T. Pettai.

The Inspector had deposed before the trial court that after recording the confession, he prepared a special report and handed over both the records to the Police Inspector concerned besides informing the jurisdictional Village Administrative Officer.

However, the deposition of the Revenue Inspector did not tally with the evidence adduced by the Police Inspector as well as the VAO before the trial court.

Their evidence contradicted each other and, therefore, it was not safe to confirm the conviction and sentences imposed on the seven appellants on the basis of the supposed extra-judicial confession, the judges said.

According to the prosecution, the first two accused, Sathish and Ramesh, were the sons of the deceased.

The next two accused were brothers-in-law of the deceased and the fifth accused was the father-in-law of the first accused.

The sixth accused was the wife of the deceased and the seventh was the son of the third accused.

The mother of the deceased had lodged the complaint after the murder.

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