1. This tree of brothers and sisters gives the personae dramatis.
SisterBrother Accused No. 2
Accused No. 1 -------------------
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| P.W. No. 2 P.W. No. 3
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Daughter marries Brother. Brother. Chitti Sister--
of P.W. No.1
2. Chitti, the deceased, was 14 years old. On 17th December, 1928, his corpse was found in the yard of P.W. No. 5 The medical evidence shows that he was throttled.
3. He was seen on the evening of 16th December on the verandah of the he use of accused No. 2 with the two accused and the sons of accused No. 2, P.Ws. Nos. 2 and 3.
4. On the 18th December, these two boys were arrested for the crime; and on 29th December, 1928, they 'confessed'; that is $6 say, statements recorded from them under Section 164 were treated as confessions, but their effect is to put the guilt upon the present accused and an oil-monger, and to exonerate the boys. In the Committing Court they stood by these statements, and in the Sessions Court they resiled. The present application to admit this appeal is practically & prayer that these depositions and statements may be reconsidered by a Bench of this Court to see if they warrant the conviction of the two accused.
5. It is quite within the bounds of possibility that these two boys were the actual murderers, and there must have been some suspicion against them when the Police investigated, else they would not have been arrested. It is then quite possible that they thought of saving their skins by putting the blame upon their father and cousin. Putting their evidence at its highest they are not very satisfactory witnesses, and it must be borne in mind that the one fact known about them beyond all doubt is that they have committed perjury, either at the trial or at the investigation. The problem then reduces itself to this simple question: Can two men be hanged on the suspect evidence of perjured witnesses? To that question the answer must be 'No'; and in this case there is absolutely nothing besides that evidence. There is nothing unusual about Chitti being on his friend's verandah that night, and there is no motive for accused Nos. 1 and 2 to have committed the crime. The heirs of Chitti are his two sisters, and accused No. 1, who is the father of a brother's wife, cannot have any claim, and cannot, I should think, have supposed that he had any claim. The Grown cannot impute ignorance of law as a motive. In the famous case of Rex v. Monson (1903) 67 J.P. Jo. 267 the Crown imputed as a motive that Monson's wife held a transfer of the murdered lad's life insurance policy, and Monson did not know that a minor cannot assign an imputation that was not accepted. An accused person must be given the benefit of the assumption that he knows the law.
6. The assessors are unanimously of opinion that the accused are guilty; but their opinion probably derives support from the popular instinct that after an atrocious murder some one should hang for the vindication of general morality. It is eases like this that illustrate the danger of the Jury system. I do not think any Judge could come to an opinion contrary to that of the learned Judge who tried the case and, therefore, do not admit the appeal. The only exception I should take to his judgment is that in discussing the original confessions he seems rather to disregard Section 114(e) of the Evidence Act and to assume irregularity in official acts. He says that the bare certificate in Era. D and G does not prove that the statements were voluntarily made, which, of course, is strictly correct; but it may fairly be assumed that the Magistrate did his best to assure himself that the statements were voluntary, and if he had felt any suspicion he would have placed it upon record. Then he speaks of the best efforts of the Magistrate to remove Police and other influences, as if Police influence were necessarily bad. There is, so far as I know, nothing upon the record of this case which reflects upon the conduct of the Police, and an assumption by the officers of one department that the officers of another department are naturally depraved is quite unwarranted and even offensive.
7. The appeal is dismissed.