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In Re: Tadipamula Satyanarayana - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 243 of 1957
Reported inAIR1959AP419; 1959CriLJ951
ActsEvidence Act, 1872 - Sections 24
AppellantIn Re: Tadipamula Satyanarayana
Appellant AdvocateSeetharama Reddy, Amicus Curiae
Respondent AdvocatePublic Prosecutor
DispositionAppeal dismissed
criminal - corroboration of retracted confession - section 24 of evidence act, 1872 - appellant convicted for murder based on his confession - confession retracted during trial - defence contended that confession was involuntary and untrue therefore it was retracted - high court observed that in cases of retracted confession, courts should first determine whether retracted confession was true and voluntary - additional rule of caution in cases of conviction based on retracted confession that confession must be corroborated - held, conviction sustained since confession true and voluntary and also supported by corroboration. - maximssections 2(xv) & 3(1) & (3): [v.v.s. rao, n.v. ramana & p.s. narayana, jj] ghee as a live stock product held, [per v.v.s. rao & n.v. ramana, jj - majority].....krishna rao, j.1. the appellant tadipamula satyanarayana, has been convicted under section 302 i.p.c. and sentenced to imprisonment for life, for the murder of his uncle ranganayakulu at about 2-30 a.m. on 6-2-1957. he was the 1st accused in the case and an alleged friend of his, named lakshmana rao was the 2nd accused. both were charged under sections 34 and 302, indian penal code with having jointly committed the murder. the prosecution story was that the appellant owing to enmity, stabbed the deceased on the abdomen with a spear while the latter was sleeping in front of his house, that the 2nd accused accompanied and assisted him and that they were observed running away from the scene immediately afterwards. the learned additional sessions judge gave the 2nd accused the benefit of the.....

Krishna Rao, J.

1. The appellant Tadipamula Satyanarayana, has been convicted under Section 302 I.P.C. and sentenced to imprisonment for life, for the murder of his uncle Ranganayakulu at about 2-30 A.M. on 6-2-1957. He was the 1st accused in the case and an alleged friend of his, named Lakshmana Rao was the 2nd accused. Both were charged under Sections 34 and 302, Indian Penal Code with having jointly committed the murder. The prosecution story was that the appellant owing to enmity, stabbed the deceased on the abdomen with a spear while the latter was sleeping in front of his house, that the 2nd accused accompanied and assisted him and that they were observed running away from the scene immediately afterwards. The learned Additional Sessions Judge gave the 2nd accused the benefit of the doubt and acquitted him, as his confession was self-exculpatory and the incriminating matter against him was only the appelpant's retracted confession. We are not concerned with the merits of the acquittal although it is necessary to refer to the 2nd accused in the course of our judgment in order to appreciate the contentions raised on behalf of the appellant.

2. There was no direct witness to the crime. The conviction is based on a confession made by the appellant before a Magistrate, which was refracted at the trial. The questions that arise for consideration are whether the confession was voluntary and whether it is true and is sufficiently corroborated.

3. The facts in evidence have to be briefly stated. The appellant, a young man aged about 20 years, was working as a messenger in the telegraph branch of the Tadepalligudam Post Office. The deceased, a bus conductor, aged about 40 years, was the appellant's junior paternal uncle and thev were living separately in the same house at Tadepalligudem. The appellant and his younger brother and their mother were livng in the western portion of the house, while the deceased and his wife P.W. 1 were living in the eastern portion. The 2nd accused was a private tutor at the place and used to visit the appellant.

The house stood in the name of the appellant's mother, but the deceased claimed a one-third share in it and wanted partition. The appellant did not agree, in spite of mediation by P.Ws. 4 and 7 and one G. Appalaswamy. So the appellant and the deceased fell out about four months prior to the occurrence. About two or three months prior to the occurrence, the deceased picked up a quarrel with the appellant for planting brinjals in their yard. Thereafter they were not even on talking terms. About 10 days before the occurrence, the 2nd accused got the spear M.O. 1 made by the blacksmith P.W. 11.

4. On the evening of 5-2-1957, the appellant was on duty at the Post Office. At about 9 or 10 P.M., he obtained the permission of the Post Master P.W. 12 to go to the second show of the cinema. He was relieved of 10-45 P.M., after he delivered a telegram entrusted to him by the Signaller P.W. 15. He was next seen at the Post Office only at 3 A.M., on 6-2-1957, when P.W. 12 got up and found him sleeping there.

5. That night the deceased was sleeping on a cot on the front pial of his house. His wife P.W. 1 was sleeping inside the house, after bolting the door. At about 2-30 or 3 A.M., she heard wild shrieks and knocks at the door. She attempted to open the door but found that it was bolted from outside. She called out to her husband, but got no response. Then she came out by the rear door on the north of the building and proceeded round the eastern portion of the building in order to reach the pial on the south. She met the appellant and the 2nd accused in the open space to the east of the building and they were running away northwards. At the front pial, she found the deceased lying stabbed with intestines protruding and speechless. She cried out saying 'Tadipamula Satyanarayana and the man with unsteady eyes killed my husband'. She did not know the name of the 2nd accused and identified him at the trial as 'the man with the unsteady eyes' mentioned by her.

6. P.W. 2 is a labourer living at a distance of about 20 yards south-east of the scene and knew the 2nd accused who used to frequent the appellant's house. He was sleeping that night in front of his house and was awakened at about 2-30 A.M. by the shrieks of the deceased. He observed the appellant and the second accused going away from the vicinity of the deceased, as there was the street light and star light. He went to the scene when P.W. 1; cried out and told P.W. 1 that he too had seen the appellant and the 2nd accused going away. Two more neighbours, P.Ws. 3 and 4, came there on hearing the alarm raised by P.W. 1. P.W. 3 went on a cycle to fetch a doctor and brought his compounder Shahabuddin. But the deceased was dead by that time. Then he went to the Police Station which is at a distance of about 200 yards and gave the first information Ex. P-1 at 3-30 P.M., to P.W. 17, Sub-Inspector of Police.

7. Comment is made on the fact that in Ex, P-1, P.W. 3 stated that P.W. 1 cried out merely 'Tatipamula Satyanarayana killed baboi, killed baboi', without any reference to the 2nd accused's name and this cannot be believed in the face of P.W. 17's evidence that he wrote Ex P-1 correctly to P.W. 3's dictation. But it is quite likely that P.W. 3 did not recollect the exact words uttered by P.W. 1 nor understand that that she meant the 2nd accused by 'the man with unsteady eyes'. We do not consider that this defect shakes P.W. 3's veracity though it may throw a doubt as to the 2nd accused's complicity in the crime. Another criticism is that P.Ws. 2 to 4 are unworthy of credit, because P.Ws. 2 and 3 are dealers in illicit arrack and because they did not try to chase and catch the culprits as might be expected of them.

But they are natural witnesses being the nearest neighbours and came forward with their evidence before the Police, as will be seen presently, within a couple of hours after the occurrence. They might have been afraid to chase the appellant who was armed with a spear and we do not find their conduct in this respect unnatural. We see no reason to doubt the evidence of P.Ws. 1 and 2 as to theft having seen and identified the appellant running away from near the scene immediately after the murder, since it is confirmed not only by P.Ws. 3 and 4 but also by Ex. P-1.

8. P.W. 18, the Circle Inspector of Police, took up the investigation and reached the scene at 4-30 A.M. on 6-2-1957. He examined P.Ws. 1 to 4 between 5 A.M. and 6 A.M. Then he recovered the blood-stained spear. M.O. 1. which was lying in the open, space at a distance of about 150 yards northeast of the house. He proceeded to the Post Office at 7 A.M. and apprehended the appellant who was found there. He seized the blood-stained clothes M.Os. 2, 3 and 5 which the appellant was wearing and also two used cinema tickets, M.O. 6, which were found in the appellant's pocket. He interrogated the appellant and sent him for medical examination, as he was smelling of arrack and had an injury on the right toe.

After attending to diverse duties like the holding of the inquest and the recovery of blood-stained articles at the scene, he went to the 2nd accused's house at about 1-30 P.M. and apprehended him. He searched the 2nd accused's house and formally arrested the appellant and the 2nd accused at 3-00 P.M. on 6-2-1957. On the next day, he sent them to the Second Class Magistrate, Tadepalligudem, for remand. He also sent a requisition to the Second Class Magistrate, Tanuku, to record their confessions.

9. The autopsy over the deceased was conducted by the Medical Officer, P.W. 6 on the afternoon on 6-2-1957. The deceased had a stab wound on the abdomen which had pierced through the omentum and the small intestines. P.W. 6's opinion is that the injury was necessarily fatal and that the deceased would have died within five minutes after receiving it. Thus there can be no doubt that in. the absence of extenuating circumstances, whoever caused the injury committed an offence of murder as defined in Section 300, I.P.C. P.W. 6 also examined the appellant at 7-30 A.M. on 6-2-1957 at the instance of the Police. The appellant was smelling of arrack and had the fresh abrasion on the right toe. The blood-stained articles seized by P.W. 18 were sent for chemical examination. The spear M.O. 1 and the appellant's clothes M.Os. 2, 3 and 5 were found to be stained with human blood.

10. On 11-2-1957, P.W. 5 the Judicial II Class Magistrate Tanuku, interviewed the appellant in his Court-hall after clearing it of all policemen. He questioned the appellant in the manner prescribed in Rule 85 of the Criminal Rules of Practice, gave him 24 hours for reflection and had him and the second accused kept in a separate sell in the Sub Jail at Tanuku. On the next day he again gave the necessary warnings and recorded the appellant's confession Ex. P-5, after being satisfied that it was voluntarily made. Ex. P-5 begins by describing the disputes with the deceased over the partition of the house and the incident in regard to the plants.

Mention is made of the appellant's getting a spear prepared through his friend the 2nd accused, avowedly for the purpose of dealing with the pigs which were causing damage to the plants. Then the events on the night of 5-2-1957 are set out. The appellant took the 2nd accused to the second show of the cinema. They came out at 1 or 1-30 A.M. and drank arrack. They proceeded to the appellant's portion of the house where the door was opened by the appellant's younger brother and where the appellant secretly armed himself with the spear. The subsequent events are narrated thus:

'I alone went and bolted the door of the portion of my junior paternal uncle outside. Laxmana Rao focussed the light. My junior paternal uncle alone was sleeping outside. Then Laxmana Bao caught hold of the legs of my junior paternal uncle. He was sleeping to a side. Laxmana Rao caught hold of the legs with one hand and focussed the light with the other hand. Due to the intoxication caused by the consumption of arrack, I then stabbed my junior paternal uncle Ranganayakulu in the abdomen with the spear which I had taken with me. He moved. I pulled out the knife and we ran......We ran towards Collapeta.....Then the spear fell down....... went straight to the Post Office. Laxmana Rao went to his house. The night watcher was awake and asked me if I came from the cinema. I said I went and returned. I slept in the office itself.'

At the trial, the appellant retracted altogether from Ex. P-5. He asserted that it became too late for the cinema show after he delivered the telegram at 30-45 P.M. and that he slept outside the Post Office without going anywhere. He alleged that P.W. 18 kicked him at the Police Station and threatened to shoot him unless he stated in the manner he (P.W. 18) mentioned and that being afraid he stated as in Ex. P-5. This story was rejected by the Additional Sessions Judge, who held that Ex. P-5 was voluntarily made and was sufficiently corroborated by the circumstantial evidence summarised above. In the result he found that the appellant's guilt under Section 302 was established beyond doubt, although it was otherwise with the 2nd accused, whose so-called confession Ex. P-9 was really self-exculpatory.

11. The first question canvassed before us is whether the appellant's confession, Ex. P-5, was free and voluntary. Unless a confession is free and voluntary in the sense that it did not flow from any hope or fear of a temporal nature, exacted directly or indirectly by a person in authority, it is not admissible in evidence and cannot be taken into consideration against an accused at all. This is laid down in Section 24 of the Evidence Act. In Emperor v. Bhagi Vedu, 4 Cri. LJ 332 (Bom), cited by the learned counsel for the appellant Beaman, J. said:

'In all such cases the principal duty which Judges have to discharge, is to determine in the first instance whether a retracted confession is voluntary or has been improperly induced. The mere fact that a prisoner puts in a plea of not guilty and denies having made the confession or explains having made it by allegation of Police torture, is enough in itself to put a Judge upon enquiry, and he then had to decide before admitting the confession at all, or allowing it to be looked at, whether it has been improperly induced. That is a question for the Court i.e., the Judge to answer 'in limine.' If upon weighing all the circumstances, the prisoner's denial and the probabilities, it appears to the Judge that the confession has been improperly induced, no matter how true it may be, he is bound to exclude it ....... If he comes to the conclusion that the confession was not improperly induced, and admits it, then it becomes evidence in the usual way.'

The principle was explained by Mahajan, C.J., in Hem Raj v. State of Ajmer, : 1954CriLJ1313 thus:

'In order that evidence of a confesssion by a prisoner may be admissible, it must be affirmatively proved that such confession was free and voluntary and that it was not preceded by any inducement to the prisoner to make a statement held out by a person in authority, Or that it was not made until after such inducement had clearly been removed.......The mere bald assertion by the prisoner that he was threatened, tutored or that inducement was offered to him, cannot be accepted as true without more.'

Here the appellant has made only a bald assertion in his statement recorded under Section 342, Criminal Procedure Code after the close of the prosecution evidence that P.W. 18 kicked him and tutored him and threatened to kill him if he stated differently. He did not have even a consistent case as to the coercion employed upon, for the suggestion put to and denied by P.W. 18 was that some constables (not P.W. 18) thrashed the appellant at the Police Station on 6-2-1957. A further suggestion was that P.W. 18 and his assistants were tutoring and threatening the appellant until he was produced before P.W. 5 on 11-2-1957. This appears to be improbable, as the appellant was in the sub-jail and not in police custody after 7-2-1957.

Moreover, in his answers to P.W. 5's questions on 11-2-1957, the appellant unequivocally denied that he was tortured by the Police or induced by anybody to make a statement. P.W. 5's evidence shows that he took every practicable step to keep the appellant free from influence by the Police. He cleared all the policemen from the Court-hall, before interrogating the appellant on 11-2-1957 and again on 12-2-1957, after giving him 24 hours time for reflection. On both the occasions, he explained to the appellant that he was under no obligation to answer any question and that any statement made by him may be used against him. On 12-2-1957, he specifically informed the appellant that he would not be taken as an approver and says that he was satisfied that the appellant made the statement Ex P-5 voluntarily. In our opinion, there is no room for entertaining any suspicion against the free and voluntary character of Ex. P-5.

12. The next question debated before us is whether the confession is true. When a confession is made the foundation for a conviction, the Court must be satisfied that it is true. In law it is open to the Court to give effect to the sound presumption. that what a person wilfully states against his interest is likely to be true and to convict him on his confession alone. But in practice, Courts following the English system of jurisprudence try to guard themselves particularly in cases of serious offences, against the danger demonstrated by experience of persons falsely implicating themselves for reasons which may not be apparent. With this end, they test and examine confessions with reference to their intrinsic probability and in the light of the extrinsic evidence, in order to satisfy themselves that the statements of fact made in the confession, so far as they can be checked, are true. In the case of Harold White v. The King, AIR 1945 PC 181 at p. 184, Sir John Beaumont said :

'Confessions are not always true, and they must be checked, more particularly in a murder case, in the light of the whole of the evidence on the record in order to see if they carry conviction.'

13. In Sarwan Singh v. State of Punjab, (S) : 1957CriLJ1014 , Gajendragadkar J., said;

'Even if the confession is held to be voluntary, it must also be established that the confession is true and for the purpose of dealing with this question it would be necessary to examine the confession and compare it with the rest of the prosecution evidence and the probabilities in the case.' The truth or falsity of a confession has therefore to be weighed by the Court in the light of all the facts and surrounding circumstances.

14. The learned counsel for the appellant points out that in Ex. P-5 the appellant says that the quarrel with the deceased over the plants took place about five months prior to the occurrence, while P.W. 1 says in her evidence that it happened two or three months prior to the occurrence and P.W. 7 puts it as about two months before the occurrence. But the appellant was merely recalling at the beginning of Ex. P-5 the course of events that resulted in his harbouring enmity against the deceased. The quarrel over the plants was not the immediate motive for the crime and therefore nothing turns on the exact point of time at which the incident took place.

SO the inaccuracy in the narrative of the appellant in this respect relates to a detail which is immaterial. It is next pointed out that according to Ex. P-5, the 2nd accused supplied the spear to the appellant a week before the occurrence, while the blacksmith P.W. 11 admitted having stated the police that he prepared the spear one day before the occurrence. But P.W. 11's actual evidence at the trial was that he prepared the spear ten days before the occurrence. What he stated to the Police is not evidence, though it may be used to contradict him under Section 162 Criminal Procedure Code. As he is definite that he prepared the spear ten clays prior to the occurrence, it is possible that his earlier statement to the Police was an error, We do not consider that this discrepancy militates against the truth of the confession.

The next criticism is that whereas the appellant says in Ex. P-5 that the 2nd accused assisted him to stab the deceased by holding the deceased's legs and focussing the light, the 2nd accused contradicts him in this respect in his own confession Ex. P-9. According to the 2nd accused's story in Ex. P-9 he fortuitously accompanied the appellant to the place where the deceased was sleeping. The appellant asked him to stab the deceased and he refused. He tried to prevent the appellant from stabbing the deceased and thereby received an injury on his right hand. No doubt there is thus a conflict between the stories of the appellant and of the 2nd accused as to the part played by the latter.

But this relates to a matter, which is known only to the appellant and to the 2nd accused and on which the prosecution are not in a position to adduce any evidence. It is possible that the appellant's version in Ex. P-5 is the truth. But effect cannot be given to it as against the 2nd accused because there is no other evidence to support it. The doubt as to the part played by the 2nd accused does not reflect on the truth of the confession, so far as the appellant himself is concerned. Another criticism is that after committing the murder, the appellant is not likely to have gone to the Post Office where he could be easily found and to have slept there.

But the natural explanation is that the appellant seems to have been intoxicated with arrack and did not probably realise at the time the consequences of his sleeping at the Post Office. The medical evidence shows that even a few hours later he was smelling of arrack, though tho intoxication had passed off. The last comment is that the prosecution have not called the night-watcher mentioned in the confession to confirm the time of the return of the appellant to the Post Office. We are unable to agree with the learned Public Prosecutor that the watchman's evidence would have been immaterial. But no point about the nightwatcher was made during the trial, in which event he could have been examined as a Court-witness.

We are not prepared to say that merely because the nightwatcher has not been examined, the rest of the confession and the positive evidence of P.Ws. 1 and 2 are untrue and that the appellant was back at the Post Office at an earlier hour than the time of the murder. It follows that there are no grounds for supposing that anything stated in the appellant's confession is untrue. On the other hand, it is proved that the appellant had a motive against the deceased and was found running away from the scene immediately after the deceased was murdered. There was no reason for his falsely implicating himself as the author of the crime. Therefore we can safely hold that the confession is true.

15. The only question that remains to be considered whether the confession is corroborated, since it is a retracted confession. The fact of retraction by itself raises the question whether it was induced by the consideration that the confession was untrue or by the realisation that the confession failed to secure the benefits the hope of which inspired it. Bhuboni Sahu v. The King, AIR 1949 PC 257 at p. 261. As it thus indirectly casts a doubt on the truth of the confession, an additional rule of caution has been laid down for basing convictions on retracted confessions viz., that the confession must be corroborated. But there is a difference of opinion as to the extent of the corroboration required. In Aruna Lal v. The State, : AIR1953SC411 , Chandrasekhara Aiyar J. said :

'We have before us a case where the conclusion of guilt rests solely on a retracted confession, not only uncorroborated in material particulars, but untrue in many parts. Such a conviction is opposed to law and cannot be allowed to stand.'

16. The observation in the first sentence indicate; that in the case of a retracted confession, it must be corroborated in material particulars, where it forms the sole basis of the conviction. This is also the view expressed in the cases of Puran v. State of Punjab (I), : AIR1953SC459 and : 1954CriLJ1313 . In : AIR1953SC459 (Supra) Mahajan J. said :--

'It is a settled rule of evidence that unless a retracted confession is corroborated in material particulars, it is not prudent to base a conviction in a criminal case on its strength alone.' But in Balbir Singh v. State of Punjab (S) : 1957CriLJ481 , S.K. Das, J. said at page 224 :

'Though a retracted confession, if believed to be true and voluntarily made, may form the basis of a conviction, the rule of practice and prudence requires that it should be corroborated by independent evidence.' He observed that it was unnecessary in that case to consider if the evidence of an accomplice Stands on better, worse or equal footing than a retracted confession not to consider the nature and extent of corroboration necessary for the evidence of an accomplice. This aspect, of the matter was subsequently considered in Subramania Goundan v. State of Madras : 1958CriLJ238 , which is the latest decision cited before us, and Govinda Menon, J, said :

'The view taken by this Court on more occasions than one is that as a matter of prudence and caution which has sanctioned itself into a rule of law, a retracted confession cannot be made solely the basis of conviction unless the same is corroborated, one of the latest cases being Balbir Singh v. State of Punjab (Supra) but it does not necessarily mean that each and every circumstance mentioned in the confession regarding the complicity of the accused must be separately and independently corroborated nor is it essential that the corroboration must come from facts and circumstances discovered after the. confession was made. It would be sufficient, in our opinion, that the general trend of the confession is substantiated by some evidence which would tally with what is contained in the confession. In this connection it would be profitable to contrast a retracted confession with the. evidence of an approver or an accomplice'. * * * * *

'Not infrequently one is apt to fall in error in equating a retracted confession with the evidence of an accomplice and therefore, it is advisable to clearly understand the distinction between the two. The standards of corroboration in the two are quite different. In the case of the person confessing who has resiled from his statement, general corroboration is sufficient while an accomplice's evidence should be corroborated in material particulars. In addition the Court must feel that the reasons given for the retraction in the case of a confession are untrue.' The learned Public Prosecutor relies on this decision for the position that we are to look for only 'general corroboration' and not 'corroboration in material particulars' in cases of retracted confessions. He contends that the latest decision is binding on us, as the Supremo Court is competent to reconsider its previous decisions, see Bengal Immunity Co. Ltd. v. State of Bihar (S) : [1955]2SCR603 . But a reading of the judgment in the case of : 1958CriLJ238 shows that their Lordships did not intend to depart from law declared in any earlier decision of the Court.

The nature and extent of corroboration necessary must naturally depend on the object with which it is required. The object may be to dispel any doubt raised by the retraction that the confession may be untrue and the maker may have falsely implicated himself. Or it may be to rebut the presumption applicable to an accomplice that he is likely to falsely implicate other persons. In the present case, the broad story in the confession stands corroborated by independent evidence; by P.Ws. 1, 4 and 7 as to the existence of motive; by P.Ws.2 and- 3 as to the 2nd accused being a friend who could have supplied the appellant with the. spear got prepared through P.W. 11; by P.Ws. 12 and 15 as to the appellant's absence from the Post Office during the material time; and by the recovery by P.W. 18 of the spear dropped by the appellant.

The point of contrast by Govinda Menon J., between 'general corroboration' and 'corroboration in material particulars' seems to be that the latter expression requires independent evidence which in some way reasonably connects or tends to connect the accused with the crime. As we are of the opinion that in the present case 'corroboration in material particulars' in this sense is furnished by the evidence of P. Ws. 1 and 2, it is unnecessary for us to consider whether corroboration of that standard is not necessary under the rule of prudence.

17. No doubt there is considerable force in the criticism of the learned counsel for the appellant in respect of the proof that the appellant's clothes M. O. Nos. 2, 3 and 5 were bloodstained. According to the mediators' (sic) report Ex. P-15 these clothes were recovered at 7 A.M. on 6-2-1957 in the central hall of the Post Office. But P.W. 12 the Postmaster does not know anything about the recovery. The attestors to Ex. P-15. besides the Police Officers, were the Village Munsif P-W. 14 and one Basavaraju who lives in the same street as the deceased. It is extremely unlikely that if Ex. P-15 was prepared anywhere in the Post Office, P.W. 12 would not have been invited to attest M.O. Nos. 2, 3 and 5 were admittedly sent to the Magistrate only on 12-2-1957 and the delay lends colour to the defence suggestion that the blood-stains on them were planted during the interval.

We are therefore not inclined to attach any importance to the proof that M. Os. 2, 3 and 5 were blood-stained. But as we have already indicated, there can be no doubt that P. Ws. 1 and 2 saw the appellant running away from fhe vicinity of the scene at the unearthly hours immediately after the occurrence. Except a false denial of the fact, the appellant has no explanation to this clinching circumstance which connects him with the commission of the offence. So far as the element of retraction is concerned, the only explanation of the appellant is that the confession Ex. P-5 was due to police coercion, which is untenable.

18. We therefore confirm the conviction and sentence and dismiss the appeal.

Umamaheswaram, J.

19. I have perused the judgment of my learned brother, and I agree with him that there are no valid reasons to set aside the conviction. I am satisfied that the confession of the appellant, even though retracted, is true and is corroborated in material particulars. I am also of the view that on the facts of this case it is unnecessary to decide whether in : 1958CriLJ238 the learned Judges of the Supreme Court have impliedly overruled their earlier decisions in : AIR1953SC411 and : AIR1953SC459 .

The view taken in the earlier decisions of the Supreme Court referred to supra is that it is a settled rule of evidence that unless a retracted confession is corroborated in material particulars, it is not prudent to base a conviction in a criminal case on its strength alone. But, in the latest decision of the Supreme Court in : 1958CriLJ238 , Govinda Menon T. drew a distinction between the standards of corroboration required in the case of evidence of an accomplice and a retracted confession. The learned Judge observed :

''In the case of the person confessing who has resiled from his statement, general corroboration is sufficient while an accomplice's evidence should be corroborated in material particulars.' Though the earlier decisions of the Supreme Court cited above are not referred to in the judgment, the principles governing the two sets of cases are clearly and unequivocally laid down. It is settled law that in the case of an accomplice's evidence, the corroboration should be in material particulars. But. in regard to the nature of corroboration required in the case of a retracted confession, there is, as already set out, a divergence of opinion in the decisions of the Supreme Court.

Even applying the stricter standard laid down in the earlier decisions of the Supreme Court, and followed by me in R.T. No. 62 of 1954 (AP) and Criminal Appeals Nos. 325 and 326 of 1954 (AP) sitting along with Subba Rao C.J., (as he then was), that a corroboration in material particulars (and not a general corroboration) is necessary, I uphold the conviction. In deciding the case, I am fully alive to the rule of caution sounded by Sir John Beaumont in AIR 1945 PC 181 that confessions are not always true and that they must be checked, more particularly in a murder case, in the light of the whole evidence on the record in order to see if they carry conviction.

20. In the result, I agree that the appeal should be dismissed.

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