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STATE OF KARNATAKA V/S M.S. BASAPPA & OTHERS, decided on Thursday, November 2, 2017.
[ In the Supreme Court of India, Criminal Appeal Nos. 708-710 of 2010. ] 02/11/2017
Advocate(s) : Joseph Aristotle S., Priya Aristotle, Ashish Yadav. Kiran Suri, Sr. (A.C), S.J. Amith, Dr. Vipin Gupta.
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    The appellant/State is before us aggrieved by the common judgment dated 04.12.2017 passed by the High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore whereby Criminal Appeal Nos. 1147 1285 & 1427 of 2005 preferred by the accused were allowed by acquitting them from the offences charged with.2. The brief facts of the case are that initially First Information Report (FIR) was registered against 15 accused persons. Out of them 08 accused persons were convicted by the trial Court. The conviction of A1 A2 A3 and A8 was the subject matter of the appeals before the High Court. The High Court allowed their appeals and acquitted all those four accused persons.3. It appears that during the pendency of these appeals respondent No. 1-Bharamappa(A2) in Criminal Appeal No. 709 of 2010 and sole respondent-Bheemappa(A8) in Criminal Appeal No. 710 of 2010 have expired. As a result thereof the appeals qua the above said respondents stood abated vide order of this Court dated 16.11.2016. Therefore we are concerned with the appeals only qua A1 & A3 who were convicted by the trial Court for the offences punishable under Sections 143 324 and 302/114 IPC and acquitted by the High Court.4. Before us learned counsel for the appellant/State contended that there is material evidence against the accused persons and the High Court has ignored the evidence of so many eye-witnesses who were present at the scene of occurrence. On the other hand minor discrepancies in the prosecution case have been taken into consideration for acquitting the accused persons. He further submits that PW-6 (Chowdappa) is an independent witness apart from PW1 (Ningaraju) PW2 (Gowaramma) PW7 (Shivappa) PW8 (Hanumajja) and PW18 (Hanumatthappa) who were present at the scene of occurrence and immediately after the incident the police have registered the FIR and the medical evidence also establishes the injuries suffered by the deceased. According to him taking into consideration all these facts the respondents/accused persons have to be convicted.5. The learned counsel for the respondents/accused persons however supported the judgment of the High Court and submitted that there is a delay in lodging the FIR and the witnesses are interested witnesses. No independent witness was examined though the incident occurred in public place. All the witnesses gave different versions which are contradictory to each other. The genesis of the incident was changed and so many persons were falsely implicated. Some of them were acquitted by the trial Court which acquittal has not been challenged by the State. Learned counsel finally submits that taking into consideration all these factors the High Court has rightly set aside the judgment of the trial Court and acquitted the respondents.6. We have perused the material placed on record and heard arguments of the learned counsel on both sides at length. From the material on record it is found that PW-16 (Kiran) who is son of the complainant-Manjappa (now dead) leader of the group saw the incident where the accused party threatened him that they are going to kill his family members. By the time he also saw that Siddappa (his uncle) is coming towards the place of occurrence. Instead of informing Siddappa about the threat given by the accused he ran away from the scene of occurrence and went to his house which is an unnatural conduct of a person. Apart from that he admits in his evidence that he has given wrong information to the family members that Siddappa was being assaulted by the accused. The discrepant evidence of PW-16 reveals that the prosecution has tried to suppress the genesis of the incident. The evidence of PW-16 cannot therefore be relied upon.7. There is also another discrepancy as to the time of incident. In the FIR though it was stated at one stage of the complaint that the incident took place at 06.30 p.m. but at another stage it was stated that it took place at 08.45 p.m. The High Court has also found discrepancy in registering the case as there was delay of four hours despite the police party stated to have reached the scene of occurrence immediately after the incident. But the police did not record any statement from PW16 (Kiran) though he was present at the spot and instead they waited for Manjappa to come to the spot and only thereafter registered a case against the accused as per his statement. There is yet another major discrepancy in the prosecution version as regards to the place of occurrence. As per the medical record (Ex. P.21) of the hospital where the complainant party has received treatment the incident took place in the field and some neighbours have beaten them whereas in the complaint (Ext. P13) it is stated that the incident took place in the open place in front of the temple in the village. The sketch shows that there is a change in the place where the incident has taken place which is fatal to the prosecution case.8. Taking into consideration all the aforementioned factors the High Court has rightly acquitted the accused. Apparently the prosecution has failed to prove the alleged guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. We therefore find no grounds to interfere with the judgment of the High Court. Accordingly the appeals are dismissed being devoid of merits.