INDIA: SUPREME COURT ACQUITS THREE DEATH PENALTY CONVICTS, COMMUTES SENTENCE OF ONE
January 25, 2019:
The Supreme Court on 23 January 2019 acquitted three persons who had been awarded death penalty in a murder case. The death sentence awarded to a fourth accused was commuted to life imprisonment. (Sources: barandbench.com, 24/01/2019)
The judgment was rendered by a Bench of Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna in an appeal against a judgment of Karnataka High Court.
The four appellants were sentenced to death by trial court for a murder which happened in 2009. The High Court had upheld the same leading to the appeal in Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court considered the material on record and the submissions of the parties. It noted that the conviction of the appellants was based heavily on the eye witness accounts of two persons – Srinivas Seenu and Suryakanthamma.
The court noted that they had given a vivid description of the manner in which the offence was committed by the accused persons. However, the Court said that even if it accepted the said part of the evidence given by the two prosecution witnesses, further proof of identification of the accused persons would be required to sustain the case of the prosecution.
It, therefore, proceeded to examine the material relating to the identification of the four accused persons in detail. Based on the material available, the Court came to the conclusion that the identification of three of the accused by the two witnesses was not sufficient to convict them.