HYDERABAD: Holding that wielding an axe is not tantamount to hacking a person and committing murder, the High Court has set aside the life term awarded by a Nizamabad court and ordered release of the murderaccused in the absence of clear evidence against him.
Allowing a criminal appeal filed in 2008, a division bench of the High Court comprising justice NV Ramana and justice P.Durga Prasad set aside the conviction and sentence awarded by the III Additional District and Sessions Judge (Fast Track Court), Nizamabad, and acquitted him of the offence under Section 302 IPC and ordered his immediate release.
The bench noted that the appellant/accused was entitled to the “benefit of doubt” keeping various circumstances in view.
Pronouncing the judgement, the bench observed that the sessions judge had convicted the accused No.1 (petitioner Jangali Nagaiah) on the sole ground that he was holding an axe in his hands as spoken by the witnesses and as there were disputes with regard to partition of property between him and the deceased, and as such he was responsible for the cause of death of Jangali Muthenna. No reasons were stated by the sessions judge for acquitting the accused Nos.2 and 3 who were said to be present along with accused No.1.
Therefore, when the other two accused were acquitted, the appellant, who was also said to be present along with them at the time of the incident, cannot be convicted in the absence of any evidence to show that he hacked the deceased with the said axe.
Moreover, the recovery of axe at the instance of the other accused was also doubtful. In view of the above circumstances, the accused No.1 shall be released forthwith, the bench said.
Going through the statements of the investigating officer and the prosecution, the bench said that from the evidence or inquest mediator one of the witness and doctor who conducted the postmortem on the body the prosecution could establish the death of the deceased.
However, the prosecution could not establish the property disputes between the accused No.1 and the deceased as the circumstantial evidence was contradictory and there was no reliable evidence to point out the guilt of the appellant.