New Delhi: The Supreme Court has upheld the life sentence on four CPI (Marxist) workers who hacked to death a BJP activist in Kerala`s Kannur district 14 years ago,
relying on the testimony of the victim`s wife.
A Bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and SS Nijjar rejected the argument of the convicts that the wife, Arundhuti, being a interested witness, cannot be relied upon.
"At the outset, we may notice that this is one of those rare cases where the wife is an eye-witness to the murderous assault, which resulted in the death of her husband.
"We have noticed in detail the manner in which the widow in this case witnessed the brutal murder of her husband, right in front of her eyes in broad day light. In such circumstances it would be difficult, if not impossible, for her to forget the faces of the assailants. They would be imprinted on her psyche forever," Justice Nijjar said writing the judgment.
Panniyannur Chandran, secretary of the district BJP committee, was hacked to death by the convicts, A Sukumaran, T Pavithran, M Surenderan, K Preman and K Purshothaman, on May 25, 1996.
The murder was a sequel to political rivalry. The deceased was an accused in the murder of a CPI(M) activist Mamman Vasu.
While Pavithran escaped after the killing, the four were sentenced to death by the Sessions Court. The Kerala High Court reduced the sentence to life imprisonment. However, the four convicts appealed in the apex court.
Dismissing their appeal, the apex court said the testimony of the widow inspired confidence and there was no reason why she would implicate any innocent person.
"She had come face to face with the assailants. The murder was committed in broad day light. She would have no reason whatsoever to falsely implicate the appellants. In
court, she had categorically deposed and identified each of the assailants. She had been absolutely truthful and straight forward," the Bench said.
The court further pointed out that the widow`s testimony coupled with the account given by the other witnesses fully corroborated the prosecution. Hence, it found no merit in the