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Ravunni Nair Vs. State of Kerala - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 637 of 1956 (M) and Referred Trial No. 128 of 1956 (M) from S.C. No. 55 of 1956
Reported inAIR1957Ker65; 1957CriLJ751
ActsEvidence Act, 1872 - Sections 3 and 114; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 367; Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 300 and 392
AppellantRavunni Nair
RespondentState of Kerala
Appellant Advocate T.C. Raghavan, Adv.
Respondent Advocate C.M. Kuruvilla, Government Pleader
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases Referred(C) and Keswan Gopalan v. State
criminal - murder - section 302 of indian penal code, 1860 and sections 3 and 114 of indian evidence act, 1872 - conviction for murder challenged - conviction on basis of circumstantial evidence - deceased seen last with accused - dead body found in compound where accused and deceased resided - presence of accused with deceased on date of occurrence proved by witness - prosecution proved motive for murder - murder pre-planned by accused - death penalty awarded to accused confirmed. - - like p. p-2, p-5 and p-7 being the respsctively postal covers) stated inter alia that she was on her way to bangalore as the maid-servant of one krishna pillai from travancore side and that she did not feel happy in living in the tarwad house as achuthan nair, p. the accused was very well known to p......koshi, c.j.1. the criminal appeal and the connected referred trial arose from the judgment and order, dated october 9, 1956, of the learned sessions judge of south malabar division, at kozhikode, in sessions case no. 55 of 1956 on the file of his court, convicting the accused therein, ghakkulli ravunni nair alias appunni nair (hereinafter referred to as the accused) for committing an offence of murder and sentencing him to the extreme penalty of the law. the accused was tried before the learned sessions judge for the murder of his mother-in-law's younger sister, kinattun-kara puthanveettil kalliani amma,the murder was alleged to have taken place during the night between 30-6-1956 and 1-7-1956. the learned sessions judge found the accused guilty, convicted him of murder and sentenced him.....

Koshi, C.J.

1. The Criminal Appeal and the connected Referred Trial arose from the judgment and order, dated October 9, 1956, of the learned Sessions Judge of South Malabar Division, at Kozhikode, in Sessions Case No. 55 of 1956 on the file of his Court, convicting the accused therein, Ghakkulli Ravunni Nair alias Appunni Nair (hereinafter referred to as the accused) for committing an offence of murder and sentencing him to the extreme penalty of the law. The accused was tried before the learned Sessions Judge for the murder of his mother-in-law's younger sister, Kinattun-kara Puthanveettil Kalliani Amma,

The murder was alleged to have taken place during the night between 30-6-1956 and 1-7-1956. The learned Sessions Judge found the accused guilty, convicted him of murder and sentenced him to death. The accused preferred Criminal Appeal-No. 637 of 1956 before the Madras High Court against his conviction and sentence. The learned Sessions Judge submitted the proceedings to the said High Court under Section 374, Criminal P. C., for confirmation of the death sentence and that was registered there as Referred Trial No. 128 of 1956. The Appeal and the Referred Trial have since been transferred to the file of this Court under Section 60(3) of the States Reorganisation Act, 1955 (Central Act XXXVII of 1956).

2. The deceased Kalliani Amma had no children and at the time of her death she was 58 years of age. For about 10 years she worked as a maid-servant under one Krishna. Varier, but three of four months prior to her death she left that service and returned to her home in Panamanna Amsom in Valluvanad Taluk. At that time she had Rs. 300 in cash, a gold vasantha chain weighing about two sovereigns, a small gold thali and a nose-screw.

The accused had married a daughter of the deceased's elder sister, Cherona Amma (P. W. 2). The deceased and Cherona Amma had two brothers. Sankaran Nair and Narayanan Nair (P. W. 1). During the period material to the case Sankaran Nair was ill' with advanced tuberculosis and he was staying in his wife's house not far away from his tarwad house. Narayanan Nair was for long absent in Madras, being employed in some hotel there. He, however, returned home on or about 12-7-1956. Besides the accused's wife, Janaki, (P. W. 4) P. W. 2, the deceased's elder sister, had two other daughters and a son, Achuthan Nair (P. W. 3).

The accused and P. W. 4 had three children of whom the eldest Rubmini (P. W. 5) was about 15 or 16 years old at the time of Kalliani Amma's death. When Kalliani Amma left her 'service under Krishna Varier and returned home to Panamanna Amsom the accused's wife and children were living in their tarwad house and the accused used to stay there or visit the place very often. His own house was in Thottakkava, about a mile and a half away from his wife's tarwad house. On her return Kalliani Amma began to live in the tarwad house with P. W. 4 and her children. P. W. 2, her other daughters and P. W. 3 lived separately in their house about a mile away from the tarwad house.

3. The tarwad house referred to above was a storeyed ona P. W. 5 and the two younger children of the accused and P. W. 4 used to sleep in the first floor, the accused and P. W. 4 in the southern room in the ground floor and Kalliani Amma in the northern room. While living there Kalliani Amma entrusted her savings, which as stated earlier amounted to Rs. 300 to her brother Sankaran Nair. Out of that she first got back Rs. 100 and with it purchased a small plot of ground from P. W. 3 to put up a house of her own. Later she took a further sum of Rs. 140 or 150 and spent all but Rs. 100 out of it on a pilgrimage to Pazani.

The evidence in the case is to the effect that the Said balance of Rs. 100 was with her en the day she was last seen alive, namely 30-6-1956. The further balance left in Sankaran Nair's hands had been lent to somebody On a promissory note. Usually she wore her ornaments on her person. As stated earlier, they consisted of a small thali, a nose-screw and a gold vasantha chain. Witnesses who spoke of her having had in her possession Rs. 100 on or about 30-6-1956, also gave evidence that When they saw her last on 30-6-1956, she was wearing all those ornaments.

4. On 28-6-1956 there was a talk at the residence of P. W. 2 about the partition of tarwad properties. Kalliani Amma had taken part in that talk, but on it proving inconclusive she returned to the tarwad house. P. Ws. 2 and 3 would have it that at that time she was weaving the gold vasantha chain P. W. 2's evidence went further, she said that she saw Rs. 100 with Kalliani Amma at that time and that she was also wearing the thali and a nose-screw.

P. Ws. 2 and 3 had not seen her alive after that P. W. 4, Janaki and her daughter Rukmini, gave evidence that Kalliani Amma was with them, as usual, in the tarwad house in the evening of 30-0-1956 and that then she had all the three ornaments on her person. P. W, 4 saw her last at 8 p.m. on that day when, at the instance of the accused and in his company, she left for his house in Thottakkara to attend a ceremony of exorcism and pooja that were supposed to be conducted there. That was the last occasion when P. W. 4 caw Kalliani Amma alive. Like P. W. 2, P. W. 4 also knew that the balance of the amount she received from 'Sankaran Nair was in Kalliani Amma's possession and according to P. W. 4 she used to keep it underneath her pillow while sleeping; That amount was with her on that date. About an hour after the accused and P. W. 4 left for Thottakkara that is, roughly at 9 p.m. P. W. & and the younger children went upstairs to sleep.

At that time Kalliani Amma was in the down floor and when P.W. 5 went upstairs Kalliani Amma had on her person all the three ornaments. P. W. 5 had not seen Kalliani Amma, afterwards. When the accused and P. W. 4 reached the former's house in Thottakkara it was found that there was no pooja or any other ceremony there & that, all the inmates of the house had gone to sleep. The. accused awoke his sister from her sleep and asked his wife to stay there during the night. She was told that she need return to her house only after visiting the Thiruvallamalai temple the next day. Though the night was rainy the accused did not remain there, but left the place saying that he had some urgent business elsewhere.

5. There is no direct evidence as to which place the accused left that night after leaving his wife in his house at Thottakkara. At about midnight (30-6-1856), P. W. 5, who, as noticed, had gone up to 'the first floor to sleep heard a gurgling noise from the down floor. When she asked what It was there came the reply 'It is I, You may go to sleep'. She identified the voice to be that of her father. A little later she heard another noise. that caused by a door being opened. She asked her father where he was going, to which he replied that he was going out. This time also the identification was only by the voice.

After he left the house for Thottakkara at 8 p.m. in the company of his wife P. W. 5 had not seen her father that night, but from his voice, which she heard twice thereafter she knew that he had returned to the house during the night. When she went downstairs early in the morning (1-7-1956) she found the accused there and she was told by him that Kalliata Amma had gone to Guruvayur, leaving Rs. 5/- with him to be handed over to her for purchasing books. P. W. 6 was then a student of form V.

It was only the day after, that is, 2-7-1956, at about 8 a.m. that P. W. 4 returned to the house. While she was returning she met the accused on the way and he told her that the deceased was not in the house and that she had gone to Guruvayur.

6. Kalliani Amma's whereabouts then remained unknown. P. Ws. 4 and 5 as also the other relations of Kalliani Amma did not for some days feel any reason to doubt the correctness of the version the accused gave that she had gone to Guruvayur. P. W. 1, her brother who Was in Madras came down to his native place on or about 12-7-1956. What he learnt from his brother Sankaran Nair. sister Cherona Amma (P. W. 2), as also from P. Ws. 4 and 5 was that she had gone to Guruvayur. However a few days later Sankaran Nair, P. W. 2 and P. W. 4 received a letter each through post purporting to have been sent by Kalliani Amma from Shoranur.

Those letters (Exts. P-l, P-4 and P-6; Exts. P-2, P-5 and P-7 being the respsctively postal covers) stated inter alia that she was on her way to Bangalore as the maid-servant of one Krishna Pillai from Travancore side and that she did not feel happy in living in the tarwad house as Achuthan Nair, P. W. 3 very often ill-treated his sister, Janaki, P. W. 4. The letters gave directions as to how the balance of her earnings, namely that lent on a promissory note through Sankaran Nair should be disposed of. A sum of Rs. 35/- was to go to P. W. 4 for purchasing a goat, professedly to honour a promise she made earlier and the balance of Rs. 15/- was to be taken by Sankaran Nair for his treatment.

Those letters also contained apologies for her leaving for Guruvayur without telling her sister or brother about it and while P. W. 4 was away from her house. P. W. 3 was severely criticised for his conduct in belabouring P. W. 4 and the accused was extolled to the skies as a very brave person and as one who had dedicated his life to look after his wife and children, Kalliani Amma was illiterate and the letters roused suspicions in Sankaraa Nair and P, W. 1 as to whether their Bister was alive even. All the letters bore the date 13-7-1956. P. W. 1 made enquiries at Guruvayur and Shoranur for her and as he was unable to obtain any information, he took counsel with his Jenmi, one Kuttappan Nair as to what he should do next to get to Know of his sister's whereabouts.

As directed by Kuttappan Nair, P. W. 1 consulted some lawyers at Ottapalam and on their advice lodged information at the Ottapalam police Station that his sister Kalliani Amma was missing from her place of residence for more than three weeks This report was made on 24-7-1956 and P. W. 17, the Head Constable who was then in charge of the Ottapalam Police Station, recorded a statement from P, W. 1 and registered it as a case of a 'woman missing'. P. W. 17 then proceeded to Panamanna Amsom and questioned P. Ws. 1, 2, 4 & Sankaran Nair. He recovered Exts. P-l and P-2 from Sankaran Nair, Exts, P-4 and P-5 from P. W 2 and Exts. P-6 and P-7 from P. W. 4.

7. Events then moved fast. The next morning, (25-7-1956) at 9 a.m. the accused approached one Govindan Ezhuthassan (P. W. 6), a respectable person of the locality and sought his help to surrender himself to the police. P. W. 6 would have it that the accused confessed to him that he had killed his mother-in-law's sister. The accused further told the witness that the police were after him, that he was afraid to go to the police station alone lest they should ill-treat him.

The accused was very well known to P. W. 6 and acceding to the request, the, witness accompanied the accused to the police station at Ottapalam There P. W. 6 informed P. W. 17 about what the accused had told him. P. W. 17 then immediately arrested the accused and recorded a statement from him. The admissible part of that statement has been marked in the case as Ext. P-9. Exhibit P-9 showed that the accused knew where Kalliani Amma's dead body was buried and that he was prepared to point out that place to the police, and among other places and persons also two gold merchants. P. W. 6 has attested the statement and soon after it was recorded. P.W. 17 sent information about the accused's surrender to ths Circle Inspector of Po3ice, Shoranur.

The accused and P. W. 6 arrived at the policestation at 11-15 a.m. The Circle Inspector (P. W.18) got the information, sent to him by P. W. 17at 12-15 p.m. and he arrived at the OttapalamPolice Station by 12-45 p.m. After perusing, thestatement recorded by P. W. 17 from the accused,the Circle Inspector sent immediately a requisitionto P. W. 7, the Executive Second Class Magistrate,Ottappalam to visit the place'where the dead bodywas buried and order exhumation. That requisition is Ext. P-10 and on receipt of it P. W. 7 Immediately proceeded to the police station. Fromthere the party consisting of the accused, P. W. 7,P. W. 18, P .W. 6 and P. W. 17 among others proceeded to. the place where according to the information received from the accused dead body layburied.

That place was the residential compound of P. W. 4, in Panamanna Amsom. The party reached there at about 3 p.m. and according to the evidence of P. Ws. 7, 18, 17, 1, 6 and 10, when the place pointed out by the accused was dug up to a depth of about four feet, the dead body of a female was found there. Though the body was in a highly decomposed state, according to P. W, 9, the Medical Officer, who afterwards conducted the autopsy, it was in an Identifiable state, p. Ws. 1, 2, 3 and 4 stated in their evidence that they recognised that the body that was exhumed was that of Kalliani Amma. P. V. 7 under whose orders exhumation took place corroborated their evidence when he stated that the relations identified the body to be that of Kalliani Amma.

Apart from the fact that the relations who saw the body were able to recognise the same as that of the deceased, the thali (M. O. I.), the nosescrew (M. O. II) and the clothes seen on the body (M. Os. III and IV) went to confirm that view. P. Ws. 2 and 4 identified the thali and the nose-screw as those which Kalliani Amma usually wore P. W. 2 saw them on her person on 28-6-1956 when she saw her last alive. P. W. 4 saw Kalliani Amma wearing them even at 8 p.m. on 30-6-1956 when she left her house for Thottakkara. P.. W. 4 also identified the clothes, M. Os. III and IV, as those Kalliani Amma was wearing at that time. The report of the inquest held by P. W. 7 is Ext, P-11 and Ext. P-17 is the seizure list for the material objects, M. Os. I to IV. When questioned at the trial about the identification of the body by the relatives the accused stated that he had nothing to say about that evidence.

8. On the whole it was unmistakably clear on the evidence that the dead body that was recovered from the tarwad compound of P. W. 4 at the exhumation held as per orders of P. W. 7 was that of Kalliani Amma. There is no evidence as to whether in that part of the State, that is, Walluvanad, among the community to which Kalliani Amma belonged dead bodies are usually disposed off by cremation or burial. Kalliani Amma was last seen alive on 30-6-1956 and until the dead body was recovered on 23-7-1956 her whereabouts remained unknown. For several days her close relations remained under the belief that she had gone to Guruvayur and it was the accused who so informed them.

9. The first question for. our consideration is how Kalliani Amma met with her end and how the body happened to be buried in the compound in which the tarwad house of the accused's wife ts situate. If it were .a case of natural death or suicide, her relations would have known about it and the body would not have been disposed of in the secret manner in which it is seen to have been dealt with. The evidence of P. W. 8, the Medical Officer, who conducted the autopsy end that furnished by the post-mortem certificate (Ext. P-12) granted by him are to the effect that as the body was in a state of advanced decomposition, no opinion as to the cause of death could be given.

He however, noticed that the inner surface of the trachea was moderately red and that phenomenon, was according to him, suggestive of death having been caused by throttling. He also gave the opinion that from the state of the body when he saw it, death would have taken place some 25 days before, that, and in any event, it was more or less definite that not less than two weeks arid not more than four weeks would have elapsed after death when he examined the body on 25-7-1958. The learned Sessions Judge rightly found that the medical evidence by itself was insufficient to hold that it was a case of homicide. At the same time he unhesitatingly came to the conclusion that Kalliani Amma was done to death by someone and that her dead body was secretly buried. In our opinion, in all the circumstances of the case, that conclusion is correct.

10. The most valuable of Kalliani Amma's possessions, namely, the gold vasantha chain was not on her body when it was recovered. The prosecution case was that her murder was for gain, that the accused committed the murder, that he also helped himself with the gold vasantha chain she was wearing at that time as also the cash in her possession and that he then and there, in the dead of the night, buried the dead body in his wife's compound. There is absolutely no direct evidence to establish any of these facts

All the same the learned Sessions Judge found these aspects of the case to be true, but Jn arriving at that conclusion he thought that the circumstantial evidence in the case was in itself insufficient to bring home the above acts to the accused and that but for the extra-judicial confession made to p. W. 6, he would have found it difficult to hold that the prosecution had proved beyond doubt their case against the accused. We are afraid the learned Judge did not properly evaluate the circumstances appearing against the accused to hold that even independent of the confession there were sufficient materials on the record to hold that the accused had not only stolen valuable property belonging to Kalliani Amma; but also murdered her and secretly buried the dead body.

The learned Sessions Judge would seem to have not made proper advertence to the well known rule which the Supreme Court very recently re-affirmed in Wasim Khan v The State of Uttar Pradesh (1956) SCR 191: ((S) AIR 1956 SO 400) (A),-- that recent and unexplained possession of the stolen property, while it would be presumptive evidence against the prisoner of robbery would similarly be evidence against him on the charge of murder.

11. It is clear, from the prosecution evidence that Kalliani Amma was last seen alive on 30-6-1956. PW. 4, the accused's wife saw her at 8 p.m. at her house and Pw. 5, the accused's daughter, at 9 p.m. When she was seen by these witnesses _ she had on her person her gold vasantha chain the 'thali' and the nose-screw. The 'thali' and the nose-screw. were on the dead body when it was exhumed at the orders of the Magistrate and in the presence, among others, of the Magistrate himself.

Though the accused left the house at 8 p.m. In the company of his wife, from the evidence of Pw. 5 it was fairly clear that he had come back during the night. No doubt, Pw. 5 saw him only early morning on the next day, but during the night she heard his voice twice and in the morning he told her that Kalliani Amma had gone to Guruvayur after leaving Rs. 5 with him to b3 handed over to her. He handed over that money to Pw. 5. The evidence of Pw. 4 makes it clear that she was taken away to her husband's place on a false pretext and that she was made to remain there during the night and on the next day for ho proper reason. Even though the night was rainy the accused came away leaving his wife there and the daughter saw him in their house in the next morning.

In the circumstances the daughter's evidence that she knew that he returned to the house during the night itself is entitled to credance. That means. Kalliani Amma and the accused were, the only two adult persons in the house during the night between 30-6-1956 and- 1-7-1956. Kalliani Amma was in the house at 9 p.m. and she was not there in the morning and the accused gave out first to his daughter and then to his wife, that she has gone to Guruvayur, His return to the house that night is significant. It is also significant that he did not want his wife to remain in the house that night. Subsequent events have shown that the version that Kalliani Amma left for Guruvayur during the night or early in the morning of the next day was false.

12. The prosecution tried to show that Exts. P-l P-4 and P-6 purporting to have been sent by Kalliani Amma from Shoranur were really sent by the accused. Ext. p 16 copy of a mortgage deed the accused executed to Pw. 15 and alleged to be in the accused's own handwriting, was produced for purposes of comparison of handwriting. The prosecution also examined Pw. 16 to prove that in the afternoon of 13-7-1956 the accused was been

writing some letters at the bus-stand at Shoranur. However, the learned Judge rightly found that there was not sufficient evidence to hold that the accused had sent these letters. Whatever that be, from the evidence of Pw. 9 it was--fairly clear that Kalliani Amma must certainly have died before 13-7-1956 and that she could not have sent those letters. There was every reason to think that if not his hand, the accused's head was behind the despatch of those letters from Shoranur on 13-7-1956 to Kalliani Amma's relations. Evidently it was a ruse to allay suspicion. However in the state of the evidence relating to those letters nothing definite could be inferred therefrom.

13. The prosecution has led evidence to show that in June 1956 the accused was in pecuniary difficulties. His family was possessed of some tenancy rights, but as early as March 1950 all those rights were mortgaged to Pw. 15 for an amount of Rs. 2,600. That debt was outstanding at the time of Kalliani Amma's death and also when this case was being tried. About the middle of June 1956 in execution of a money decree the properties came up for sale, presumably the equity of redemption and according to Pw. 8, the lawyer who appeared for the accused in that proceedings, only an amount of Rs. 5 was paid for postponement of the sale. The property soon came up for sale again and on that occasion the accused borrowed some money from Pw. 8 for payment towards the decree-debt so that the sale may be got adjourned.

The third time the property came up for sale on 9-7-1956 and then the accused paid Rs. 40 -towards the decree-debt and also paid back the amount he had taken from Pw. 8 on the second time the sale came up. While in June he was in difficulties in early July we find that he was In possession of funds. Pw. 14 is another witness who speaks to the accused's financial difficulties during June 1956, According to that witness on 23-6-19.56 the accused approached him for a loan of Rs. 200 and told him that the amount was needed for deposit in court to avert a court sale. Pw. 14 had no money with him then and he was therefore unable to oblige the accused. The lower court has believed these witnesses and we are unable to take a different view of their evidence. Pw. 8's evidence shows that on 9-7-1956 the accused paid him Rs. 75, Rs. 40 for payment towards the decree-debt and Rs. 35 in discharge of the loan taken some days earlier. Another witness the prosecution examined to show that early in July the. accused had money in his hands was Pw. 13 from whom he purchased paddy seed for the value of Rs. 21.

This was on 5-7-1956. We have already noticed that on the morning of 1-7-1956 he paid Rs. 5 to his daughter, stating that Kalliani Amma had handed over to him that amount to be paid over to her. Pw. 4 or Pw. 5 or any other near relation of the deceased has not said that after Kalliani Amma's disappearance they got or came by the amount of Rs. 100 that was with her on the day she was last seen alive. The prosecution case, however, is that the accused appropriated that amount also but they have not been able to take that beyond the stage of suggestion. That, however, is not the case with regard to the vasantha chain.

On 26-7-1956 that is, the day after his arrest the accused took Pw., 18, the Circle Inspector, to two gold merchants at Ottapalam, Pw. 11 and Pw. 12, who gave evidence that in the afternoon or 6-7-1956 they had each purchased a half portion of a gold vasantha chain from the accused. The evidence of Pw. 18 on the matter is that the accused took him to them agreeing to point out the persons to whom he had sold the chain. The evidence of Pw. 11 on the point stood corroborated by the. entries in the bill book, Ext. P13, and his accounts Ext. P14. The relevant entry in the bill book is Ext. P13 (a), the carbon copy of the original bill, which shows that on 6-7-1956 the accused had sold a portion of a vasantha chain, weighing 1 sovereign less ,1/4 'panathukkam, for Rs. 60-1-6.

The witness knew the accused long before and the accused's name appears in Ext. P 13 (a). He had put his signature to the original bill. Pw. 11 stated that he saw the accused signing the bill and that that bill was handed over to the accused. There is a corresponding entry in Ext. p 14 which has been marked as Ext. P 14 (a). Likewise, Pw. 12 gave evidence that he purchased a portion of a vasantha chain weighing 20 'panathukkams' from the accused on. the self-same date for Rs. 60. There is no document to corroborate that evidence., That the accused took the police to both these witnesses is however a circumstance, the importance of which is difficult to emphasise.

The portions of the chain sold to Pw. 11 and Pw. 12 were not recovered. They had melted those pieces and sold the melted gold. The chain was not therefore available to be shown to the witnesses who could have identified it. There is however no room for doubt that the evidence of Pws. 11 and 12 was true, The accused denies the sale altogether and according to him the money he paid to Pw. 13 for purchase of paddy seed and the amount of Rs. 75 paid to Pw. 8 were out of the sale proceeds of his buffaloes. Except his own statement there is nothing to. show that he had buffaloes or that he sold them during the material period.

Like the lower court We have therefore no hesitation to hold that the chain sold by the accused to Pws. 11 and 12 belonged to- the deceased. In tlie absence of any acceptable explanation from him as to how he came by it, in the circumstances of the case the court would be perfectly justified in holding that he was not only the thief of the article, but also the murderer of the owner thereof, who was wearing the same when she was last 'seen alive, see Sunderlal v. State of Madhya Pra-dcsh AIR 1934 SC28(B), (1956) SCR 191: ((S) ATR 195G SC 400) (A) already referred to, K. N Vi]a-'yan v. State. 1953 Ker LT 403: AIR 1953 Trav Co. 402 (C) and Keswan Gopalan v. State,- 1954 Ker LT 344: AIR 1954 Trav Co. 456 (D), The fact that the accused gave a false explanation with regard to the source of money he was found possessed of soon after the mysterious disappearance of Kalliani Ainma lends further support to the above inference.

14. To incriminate the accused with the crime of murder, in addition to the tracing of the missing vasantha chain to his possession soon after Kalliani Amma disappeared, there were the other circumstances already adverted to. The dead body was recovered from the compound in which the tarwad house of the accused's wife was situate. To all intents and purposes the accused lived there with his family and the deceased lived with them.

The deceased was last seen alive in that house during the night of 30-6-1956 and evidence made it fairly clear that except for a trip to his house at Thottakkara, a mile and a half away the accused spent the night there. No other adult person was known to have been there that night. Indeed the accused would seem to have so manoeuvred that even his wife was not there during that night. The particular place where the, dead body lay buried was pointed out to the Magistrate by the accused and he had told the police earlier that he would do that. Kalliani Amma did not the due to natural causes nor was it a case of suicide her death was homicidal.

From the morning following the night in which she disappeared, the accused was giving out that she had gone to Guruvayur, but the day following the police started enquiries about her whereabouts, he decided to surrender, himself to the police and sought the intervention of a respectable person of the place, Pw. 6 to help him to do that. The conduct appears to us to be telltale and can only be treated as one indicating consciousness of guilt. In this context the gurgling sound Pw. 5 heard at about mid-night, the reply the accused gave to. her query and the red mark Pw. 9 saw at the autopsy In the region of the trachea, have all to be given their due weight. The evidence though entirely circumstantial would appear to us to be conclusive. It is worthy of note that to a large part the incriminating circumstances appear from the evidence of the accused's wife and daughter.

15. To add to all these we have the extra-judicial confession to Pw. 6, which the learned Sessions Judge chose to believe, and also acted upon. Pw. 6 would seem to be a respectable man, very well known to the accused and he used to lend money to the accused now and then. Pw, 17 has made it clear that Pw. 6 accompanied the accused to the police station. Further, Pw. 6 attested the statement (Ext P. 9V the accused gave before IV. 17.

He was also present at the exhumation and we cannot find any reason why he should speak to a false confession. We agree that the learned Sessions Judge was right in accepting the confession as a piece of material evidence in the case, though we Cannot agree with him that without it materials in the case were insufficient for a conviction of murder. The confession lends assurance to the Various items of circumstantial evidence in the case.

16. Agreeing with the lower court that thethe offence of murder, to wit, the murder of Kalliani Amma, had been well brought home to theaccused we confirm the conviction entered againsthim by that court for the said offence. As rightlyobserved by the lower court, it was a pre-plannedmurder and the proper sentence to be passed wasthat of death. We confirm the sentence as well.The reference is answered accordingly. CriminalAppeal 637 of 1956 is dismissed.

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