In Rawalpenta Venkalu vs State of Hyderabad case, the two appellants were convicted under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Session Judge who agreed with and accepted the unanimous verdict of the jury, for causing the death of late Md. Moinuddin on 18th of Feb,1953.
BENCH: BHUVANESHWAR PRASAD SINHA JJ.
- That both the appellants- Rawalpenta Venkalu and Bodla Ram Narsiah have filed an appeal under special leave petition to the High Court after being sentenced to death under Section 302 for the murder of Md. Moinuddin by the Session Court.
- On the night between the 18th and 19th February 1953, the two appellants along with the three others (acquitted by the learned trial Judge) in pursuance of a conspiracy to commit the murder of Md. Moinuddin had set fire to the single room hut in which he was sleeping, after locking the door of the room from outside.
- In addition, the culprits assaulted the employees of the deceased, who came forward to help him and among the employees, one of the servant named Kasim Khan was beaten severely. Later, the appellants set fire the superior force of the accused and their associates kept at bay to the cottage and the employees of the deceased. The appellants threw dust and freely used their sticks upon the villagers in order to prevent them from rescuing the deceased.
- On the morning of the 19th of February, a complaint was being lodged at the police station by Yousuf Alt, a cousin of the deceased, to the effect that some goondas of the village had set fire to the cottage occupied by the deceased after chaining the outer door, so he was burnt alive and that the villagers who tried to extinguish the fire had been beaten away by those goondas.
- On 23rd of February the munsif magistrate recorded the confessional statements given by the appellants, whereby it was stated that whatever was done was done in pursuance of the common intention of both of them.
- The courts have also found it that there was a longstanding dispute between the deceased and the family of the second appellant over land which belonged to the deceased but which was in cultivating possession of the second appellant’s family. This dispute has been testified to not only by some of the prosecution witnesses but was also proved by the documentary evidences.
- They were placed on their trial along with three others who were acquitted by the learned trial Judge and later the case was tried in the Supreme Court as a reference petition.
- Whether the testimony of the eyewitnesses sufficed to prove the guilt of the accused?
- Whether they made the confession under some pressure or threat?
- Whether the doctrine of mens rea was present in this case?
- Whether the appellants had committed the murder of deceased deliberately?
- Regarding question (1) above, it is enough to point out that the learned Judges of the High Court have discussed the positive evidence led by the prosecution to bring the charge home to the accused. They relied upon much oral evidence of persons who reached the spot while the cottage was burning. Hence, no good reasons could be found for reopening the findings of the court below that the oral testimony adduced in this case was itself sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused.
- Regarding question (2), the objection raised by the appellants before the court that he was not in his full senses while at the time of confession was not considered by the High Court because even if he suffered from fever; it did not prevent him from giving a detailed confession. Thus, neither of them could point to any circumstance which could lead to the conclusion that the confessional statements had been extorted from them. Hence, were proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
- The motive behind killing the deceased was made clear to us from the fact deposed to by the prosecution witnesses that the accused took care to lock the door from outside so that his servant sleeping outside could be of no help to the deceased who had thus been trapped in his own cottage. Further, the act of preventing the villagers from rendering help by the use of force was also considered.
- That there had been a longstanding dispute between the deceased and the family of second appellant sufficed to show the motive for the commission of crime. Therefore, it could be concluded that both the appellants had severally and in pursuance of the common intention brought about the same result, namely the death of Moinuddin, by their acts.
- In view of the above circumstances disclosed in the evidence, the conclusion that is to be drawn was that the offence was committed after a preconcerted plan to set fire to the cottage after the man had, as usual, occupied the room and had gone to sleep. There is no doubt on the evidence led by the prosecution in this case that they have brought home the charge of murder against both the appellants and they deserve the extreme penalty of the law.
- Therefore, the decision of the Session Court was upheld by the Supreme Court that the appellants shall be convicted for murder under Section 300 of Indian Penal Code,1860 and were sentenced to death.
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