1. On 15th March 1940 a man named Abraham who belonged to Rentachintala was murdered at Gurzala. His dead body was found on the roadside next morning and the Sub-Assistant Surgeon, Gurzala, (P.W. 1) who made the post mortem examination the same day expressed the opinion that the man had been killed partly by strangling him and partly by squeezing his testicles. There is no doubt about the fact or the manner in which Abraham was done to death and the case is certainly one of murder. In S.C. No. 42 of 1940 four men were put on their trial before the learned Sessions Judge of Guntur for the murder of Abraham. The learned Sessions Judge agreeing with all the assessors found accused 1 alone guilty and sentenced him to death and acquitted the other three. C.A. No. 764 is the appeal of accused 1. C.A. No. 925 is an appeal preferred by the learned Public Prosecutor on behalf of the Provincial Government against the acquittal of the other three.
2. The principal evidence on the side of the prosecution was given by three women Sayamma, Akkamma and Kottamma (P. Ws. 2, 3 and 4). It was in their house that, Abraham was murdered and they said that they were eye-witnesses of the murder. They alleged that Abraham was asleep on a cot in a room inside their house when ha was attacked by the four accused. Another man they said came along with these four accused and drove the women into a room opening out of the room in which the murder was done. Accused 1, they said, caught hold of Abraham by the hands, accused 3 put his hands round Abraham's neck, accused 4 sat on Abraham's chest and accused 2 sat upon his legs and squeezed his testicles. The learned Sessions Judge and the assessors believed this evidence as far as accused 1 was concerned. The learned Sessions Judge pointed out that the women were not in themselves reliable witnesses. Their conduct was, he thought, hardly the conduct of innocent females and he would not have accepted their evidence against accused 1 but for additional circumstances appearing against him. On 21st March accused 1 made a statement under Section 164, Criminal P.C., to the Taluk Magistrate, Gurzala. Exhibit C is his statement and in that he admits that he was present when Abraham was murdered but he says that the murder was committed by accused 2, 3 and 4 assisted by the fifth man mentioned by P. Ws. 2, 8 and 4. Accused 1 alleged that he himself was only a frightened spectator of the murder like P. Ws. 2, 3 and 4. Learned Counsel for accused 1 has urged this view of the case upon us. It cannot however be accepted because there is another very important item of evidence against accused 1. This is connected with a watch (M.O. 2) and a fountain pen (M.O. 3) belonging to the murdered man. These were recovered by the police from one Guruvayya (P.W. 19) who was keeping Kottamma (P.W. 4). They had been given to him on the evening of 15th March by Kottamma. Now all the eye-witnesses (P. WS. 2, 3 and 4) say that as soon as these things were taken from the dead body of Abraham they were offered by accused 1 to Akkamma (P.W. 3) and that when she refused to receive them they were given to Kottamma (P.W. 4). The statement of accused 1 himself agrees with this evidence up to a point. Accused 1 alleges that it was accused 4 who demanded that Akkamma (P.W. 3) should take possession of Abraham's fountain pen, watch and money purse and he says that Akkamma took those things. There is therefore no possibility of doubting the fact that the fountain pen and the watch were taken from Abraham's body immediately after he died and there is no reason for doubting the evidence of P. Ws. 2, 3 and 4, when they say that it was accused 1 who handed these articles to Kottamma (P.W. 4). The learned Sessions Judge was therefore right and the assessors were right in believing the evidence of P. Ws. 2, 3 and 4 as against accused 1. He has been rightly convicted of the murder of Abraham and there is no question of the propriety of the sentence. We confirm the conviction Of accused 1 for murder and the sentence of death and dismiss the appeal.
3. With regard to accused 2, 3 and 4, we find ourselves in agreement with the learned Sessions Judge when he says that the case against them stands on a different footing. It rests entirely upon the evidence of P. Ws. 2, 3 and 4 and they as the learned Sessions Judge has said are not witnesses whose testimony can be readily accepted. The learned Public Prosecutor relies very strongly upon the fact that these three women identified accused 2, 3 and 4 at parades held by the police subsequent to the arrest of these men. On 17th March accused 3 and 4 had been arrested and they are said to have been identified at Rentachintala by P. Ws. 3 and 4. Accused 2 was not arrested till a fortnight later, and on 30th March he is said to have been identified by the same three women at Gurzala. P.W. 2 is said to have identified accused 3 and 4 at a parade held at Gurzala on 17th March. Now, since these identification parades were held by the police in the course of investigation of the 'murder it is clear that Section 162, Criminal P.C., excludes any evidence about the statements made by the witnesses at the identification parades. The fact that witnesses have identified persons at parades held by the police may be proved : vide Guruswami Thevan v. Emperor 1936 M.W.N. 177; but I that fact can only be considered important evidence against the accused if the Court is, satisfied that the parades have been held fairly. Now, in this case, as the learned Sessions Judge has rightly observed, there is no detailed evidence given regarding the manner in which the identification parades were held. The evidence about them is extremely meagre. The evidence about the parades held on 17th March is contained in statements made by the Circle Inspector (P.W. 27). He says:
On 17th March 1940 I went to Rentachentala. I held identification parades at Bentachentala. P. Ws. 3 and 4 identified accused 3 and 4 as persons who had come to their house on 15th Maroh 1940. The mediator's report is Ex. M. Thereafter I arrested accused 3 and 4. Then I came to Gurzala. There at a parade P.W. 2 identified accused 3 and 4 as amongst the men who had come to their house on 15th March 1940. The report then drawn up is Ex.K. I examined all the witnesses and then laid the charge sheet.
4. The Inspector says nothing about the parade held on 30th March but the Sub-Inspector (P.W. 28) says, 'P. Ws. 2, 3 and 4 identified accused 2 as one of the assailants of Abraham.' The mediator's report drawn up then is Ex. L, containing the record of the proceedings at the parade held at Gurzala on 30th March. The Village Munsif of Gurzala corroborates these police officers with regard to the parades. It will thus be seen that there is no evidence that the suspected men were kept out of the sight of the witnesses before the parade was held. There is no evidence that the witnesses were prevented from communicating with each other while the parade was being arranged, and in these circumstances we must agree with the learned Sessions Judge that the evidence of identification does not sufficiently strengthen the testimony of these women. It need hardly be said that the mediator's reports (Exs. K,L and M) are wholly inadmissible in evidence. There is no other corroboration of the evidence given by P. Ws. 2, 3 and 4 against accused 2, 3 and 4 and since we agree with the learned Sessions Judge that it would be unsafe to rely upon these women uncorroborated, it follows that the acquittal of accused 2, 3 and 4 must be upheld and the appeal of the Provincial Government dismissed. The bail bonds of accused 2,3 and 4 will be cancelled.