HC sets aside conviction of 6 in double murder



Madurai: Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has acquitted six persons sentenced to life term in a double murder case with an observation that brutal nature of murder alone was not the criterion for conviction and sentence, without sufficient evidence.

Justice M Jaichandran and Justice S.Nagamuthu, allowing a criminal appeal by the six persons challenging a lower court's order sentencing them to life imprisonment, said Under Art.21 of the Constitution fair trial needed to be conducted and guilt should be proved beyond doubt. In this case, the prosecution did not prove the case beyond doubts.

The six were accused of murdering one Balasankar and Bhoologaraj, over a land dispute between two persons, in Tuticorin District on July 6, 1996.

They waylaid the victims and hacked them to death. A witness had seen the murders from a distance of one furlong and deposed that it was the appellants who had comitted the offence. Besides three others had supposedly witnessed the crimes from a close point.

But the three witnesses turned hostile during trial. However, the trial court convicted the appellant alone on the basis of the evidence adduced by the sole eye witness, who is none other than the brother of one of the parties in the land dispute.

The Judges said it was not safe to confirm the conviction on the basis of the evidence provided by the witness who was not sure about the identity of the offenders. There was no other clinching material available with the prosecution to prove their involvement.

The judges also said mere recovery of weapons used for the murders were not enough unless there were materials to prove the use of those weapons in the crime.

PTI