Seventeen people sentenced to life imprisonment for a triple murder in Tamil Nadu more than two decades ago have been acquitted by the Supreme Court due to lack of evidence.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi passed the order on an appeal filed by Murugesan and the 16 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment by the Madras high court which had reversed the acquittal order passed by the sessions court.
Veeraperumal, Karumpuli and Madaswamy had come to judicial magistrate Vilathikulam's court on September 22, 1991, for their bail application relating to an alleged murder case when they were attacked with lethal weapons allegedly by 23 people, most of whom had also come to the court in connection with certain other criminal cases.
The murder of the trio in broad daylight was said to be a sequel to long standing civil disputes between the parties.
The sessions court acquitted all the accused persons on April 16, 1998 on the ground that their guilt was not proved beyond doubt.
However, on an appeal from the state, the high court reversed the acquittal and convicted 19 people for the murder and sentenced them to life imprisonment. Two of the convicts died during the proceedings.
Aggrieved the convicts appealed in the apex court. The Supreme Court after perusal of the evidence and records felt that the high court had erroneously convicted the accused, despite the trial court's sound reasoning.
"The reversal of the acquittal could have been made by the high court only if the conclusions recorded by the learned trial court did not reflect a possible view.
"It must be emphasised that the inhibition to interfere must be perceived only in a situation where the view taken by the trial court is not a possible view," Justice Gogoi writing the judgement said.