SC gives life term to 2 accused of murder in fight over mangoes

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New Delhi, Nov 2 (UNI) A life was lost over a dispute for few mangoes and after 17 years of legal battle, the two accused have been given seven years imprisonment by the Supreme Court.

On one acre of land in Tamil Nadu, there were two mango trees.

One of them was a dead tree and before the measurement of the land could take place for the purpose of partition, father of the accused sold the mango tree for Rs 1000.

On the fateful day of June 1, 1991, owners of the tree were plucking mangoes when one Janaki, the mother of the accused, came there and collected some mangoes.

However, a member of the opposite party did not allow Janaki to take them away, which led to a fight between the two.

The two accused trespassed into the house of the Prosecution Witness (PW) 1 and damaged the cooking utensils.

When objected to, the opposite party was attacked. When the deceased Murugesan tried to intervene, he was killed.

The trial court at Vellore convicted Saravanan and another accused for murder and sentenced them to life imprisomnment. The Madras High Court, however. acquitted both the convicts.

A bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and Mukundakam Sharma refuted the contention that the witnesses in the case should not have been believed by the trial court as they were related to the deceased and were therefore interested witnesses.

The apex court noted, ''The law is long-settled that relationship is not a factor to affect the credibility of a witness for the mere reason that an eyewitness can be set to be an interested witness, his/her testimony need not be rejected.'' ''Most of the time, eyewitnesses happen to be family members or close associates because unless a crime is commmitted in a public place, strangers are not likely to be present at the time of occurence.'' It is more often than not that a relation would not conceal actual culprit and make allegation against an innocent person,'' it added.

The apex court partly allowed the appeal of the state of Tamil Nadu and held the two appellants guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and directed them to surrender forthwith to serve the remaining part of the sentence of seven years imprisonment.

UNI SC RJ RR KP1018

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