CHENNAI:Allowing the benefit of doubt, a division Bench of the Madras High Court acquitted all the 15 accused in a multiple murder case in Mallapuram village, Dharmapuri district in 1998.
“Though in this case, three persons have been killed in a cruel manner, we are unable to convict any of the accused on account of the inherent weaknesses, improbabilities and contradictions in the prosecution case and witnesses,” the Bench of Justices S Nagamuthu and Anitha Sumanth said on April 13.
The judges were allowing a batch of criminal appeals from Madappan and 14 others challenging the order dated April 29, 2016 of the Sessions Judge, Dharmapuri, sentencing all the 15 accused to life imprisonment.All the accused and the deceased were close relatives and residents of the same village. There was dispute over sharing water for their farms. The deceased are Marimuthu, Mani and Viswanathan, all brothers.
The judges were amused to note the discrepancies in the registration of the FIRs in connection with the same case. The first one was registered at 10 am on January 24, 1998 as FIR No. 384960. Another FIR was registered at 2 pm the same day, but it was marked as FIR No. 384954. Yet another FIR had been registered in connection with the same case, four days later on January 28 and it had 384958 as the serial number.
“When there are multiple number of accused and it has been probablised by the defence that the FIR was a concocted document, it has become difficult for this court to accept the case of the prosecution.” Another flaw in the prosecution evidence was that no weapon, either revolver or country-made gun, was recovered from the accused. However, the medical report stated that two metal pieces were recovered from the body of the third deceased and it should have been caused by a 9 mm single barrel gun.
The materials collected from the scene of occurrence were only country-made guns. As had been opined by the forensic expert, these pellets would have been fired only from a 9 mm pistol. This anomaly had not been explained by the prosecution, the judges said.
The Bench quashed the lower court order and set free all the 15 accused.