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Nine Odisha convicts walk free after 21 years as child witness evidence proves doubtful

According to the judgment, Nanda along with his daughter was guarding his paddy field in the village at about 6 pm on September 11, 1997.  

Published: 27th February 2020 09:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th February 2020 09:48 AM   |  A+A-

Orissa High Court

Orissa High Court

By Express News Service

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has acquitted nine persons convicted in a murder case after 21 years.
The Court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Malkangiri had convicted Kamarami Rama and eight others for the murder of one Kamarami Nanda of Erbanpalli village under Kalimela police limits and sentenced them to imprisonment for life on May 31, 1999.

They had challenged the conviction in the High Court in the same year. Though bail was granted to them in 2000, their criminal appeal had since been pending till verdict was pronounced on Monday.

According to the judgment, Nanda along with his daughter was guarding his paddy field in the village at about 6 pm on September 11, 1997.  The accused chased him and shot arrows at him. Nanda fell down at a distance and succumbed to injuries.

On examining the case records, the High Court found that the trial court had convicted Rama along with eight others on the evidence of a child witness (10-year-old daughter of the deceased) in which there was “material contradiction”.

“It transpires that the evidence of child witness is not free from material contradiction. Her credibility is doubtful. She did not know the Odia language for which an interpreter was appointed, but there is no material preserved in the lower court record that the questions put to her to test competency were also undertaken through the process of interpreter. As the evidence is not cogent and clear, the child witness is found wholly unreliable. The conviction based upon such testimony is not sustainable in the eye of law,” the division bench of Justice SK Mishra and Justice AK Mishra ruled.

“In the result, the conviction of the appellants and sentence passed there on vide judgment on May 31, 1999 by the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Malkangiri is hereby set aside. The accused persons are acquitted and set at liberty,” the bench ordered.

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