The Madras High Court has upheld the life sentence given to a man by the Mahila court in Pudukkottai for murdering his mother-in-law on holding that there is no undue delay at any stage of the investigation and it has clearly proved his guilt beyond reasonable doubts.
“Any contradiction that is attempted to be elicited is by virtue of recalling the witnesses and further cross examining them after one year and such contradictions deserve to be rejected,” the bench said.
As per the prosecution, Peeter had a misunderstanding with his wife for a long time as he suspected her fidelity. A year before the murder, Peeter had a quarrel with his wife and in the heat of passion, he allegedly hit her with a stone on her head and attempted to kill her. Following this, his wife and two children took shelter with her parents.
Thereafter, on February 13, 2008, Peeter was waiting near a vacant house site with an ulterior motive to murder his mother-in-law Santhana Mary. As she was returning from a Church situated in the same street, Peeter intercepted her, abused and attacked her with an aruval (billhook). Santhana sustained grievous injuries in the attack and succumbed on February 18, 2008.
But Peeter was arrested on April 05, 2010 (two years after the incident), and based on the voluntary confession given by him, the weapon could not be retrieved as a long time had lapsed after the incident. The trial court, however, on appreciating the oral and documentary evidence, came to the categorical finding that the prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubts and proceeded to convict and sentence him to life.
The bench while upholding the trial court order also held that the evidence of P.W.5 (appellant’s son) assumes greater significance. It said “He was studying in Class 8 at the time of the incident. He has clearly described the incident in his chief examination and in the cross-examination that was conducted on March 14, 2011. There was nothing to discredit his evidence and he categorically stated that only his father attacked the deceased with aruval inflicting fatal cut injuries.”
“Unfortunately, this witness was again recalled for further cross-examination on March 08, 2012 and he gave certain contradictory statements. His further cross examination is outright liable to be rejected since he has been bought over and therefore, the so-called contradictions elicited from the cross-examination is of no consequence,” the bench added.
The bench also set aside the submission of the appellant’s counsel that there was a sustained provocation for him to have ended up in committing the crime.