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Madras High Court
In Re: Muthan Papayya, 1St … vs Unknown on 29 November, 1909
Equivalent citations: 4 Ind Cas 391
Bench: R Benson, A Rahim


1. We are unable to support the conviction in this case. It rests wholly on the evidence of the approver Siddugadu and that evidence is entirely uncorroborated by any evidence to show that it was the accused who committed the murder. On this short ground we must hold that the conviction is bad in law and must be set aside.

2. The Sessions Judge says that the evidence of the approver is corroborated on several points viz., because (1) the Medical evidence is consistent with it, (2) Siddugadu showed the prosecution witness Inspector the place where the deceased fell and blood was found at the spot, (3) Siddugadu pointed out the spot where the mutton which the deceased was carrying had been left. The evidence does not show at what date Siddugadu pointed out these matters. There is nothing to show that it was before the post mortem was held or before the whole village was aware of the other facts, so that any one might have spoken to them. Then the Sessions Judge says that the Reddi said that Siddugadu pointed out a piece of cloth cut from the cloth of the deceased and left near the scene of the murder. The evidence of the Reddi is that it was the Sub-Inspector who showed him the cloth.

3. Even if it was Siddugadu who did so, it is no real corroboration of the truth even of his general story, for it is a matter that could most easily be concocted. It certainly is no corroboration of the approver’s evidence against the two accused. The approver’s evidence must be corroborated by material facts tending to point to the accused as the guilty persons, but there is no such corroboration. There is, in fact, nothing but the approver’s word for it to show that the murder was not committed by himself with or without the aid of other persons.

4. We acquit the accused Muthan Pappayya and Kakarla Narappa of the charge of murder of which they have been convicted and direct their release from custody. We must also point out to the Sessions Judge that the trial of this grave case has not been conducted with such care as it ought to have been. In the post mortem certificate the cause of death was stated to be asphyxia, but in his evidence the Assistant Surgeon said nothing of asphyxia but ascribed death to a wound on the head which caused bleeding inside, yet the Sessions Judge did not ask a single question of the witness in regard to this very important inconsistency which was the more important in view of the fact that the approver said nothing about throttling or other violence likely to cause death by asphyxia or to account for the symptoms stated in the post mortem certificate which indicated asphyxia by throttling. The post mortem certificate in fact throws doubt on the truth of the approver’s evidence, as to how death was caused, but the Sessions Judge has not noticed the matter at all.

5. Again it appears that the approver made a statement to the Magistrate after he was arrested, but, so far as appears, no enquiry as to the facts stated therein was made by the Sessions Judge, yet it would have been of value in testing the truth of the approver’s subsequent statement which was made long after the date of the offence.

6. There is also a great want of exactness and fullness in the examination of witnesses by the Sessions Judge, so that it is in many matters impossible to test the evidence by reference to other evidence on record.

7. We trust that the Sessions Judge will, in conducting future trials, bear in mind that it is his duty to sift the facts if this is not sufficiently done by the pleaders appearing for the prosecution or the defence.

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