(1.)Shrieks and wails of a blossoming young helpless woman pleading for mercy, praying for sparing her life and honour did not deter the vulture like culprits in committing the most ghastliest crime, known under the sky, of rape and culpable homicide for quenching their thrust for passion and revenge. Overawed by the might of the accused, the unfortunate husband, apparently concerned with the safety of his son and self, could not rescue his wife from the clutches of the accused. The alleged crime, committed by the couple, for which they were punished by the accused was the self-conceived notions of the culprits regarding publication of some material against them by the deceased and her husband, both Press Reporters. The accused persons clothed themselves with the powers of both the police and the courts, presumably on account of the political influence they wielded in the area. Inaction by the local police resulted in public agitation whereafter the investigation of the case was handed over to the Dy. S.P. of the Crime Branch. The trial court convicted Dibakar Naik (A-2), Raju Rao Dora (A-3), Birabar Mania (A-5), Babaji Mania (A-6), Bhira Behera alias Baba Tanti (A-7), Surendra Barik (A-8), Kelu Charan Das alias Tanti (A-9) and Madha Tanti alias Madhabananada Parmanik (A-11) under Sections 376 and 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The other accused persons were convicted and sentenced for minor offences punishable under Section 448, 323, 341, 342, 347 and 506 and appropriately sentenced for the same. The appeals filed by the accused persons convicted under Section 376, 302 read with Section 34 were allowed and their convictions and sentences set aside. Convictions and sentences of the other accused persons for offences other than murder and rape were upheld. The appeal filed by the State against the order of acquittal of some of the accused with regard to minor and major charges of rape and murder was dismissed. Aggrieved by the judgment of the High Court, the State has filed the present appeals by special leave.
(2.)Horrifying circumstances, as disclosed by the prosecution are that Chhabirani aged about 23 years was raped and murdered on 3.10.1980 in the river bed of River Biluakhai when she along with her husband was fleeing from the village to save their lives, as commanded by the accused persons. Nabhakishore (PW1) of about 30 years of age married the deceased, who was a Bengali lady, in the year 1973. PW1 was a matriculate and resident of Village Dhiasaibiri where his parents and three brothers were residing. About 7 months prior to the occurrence, the couple was residing in Village Biridi which is about 10-11 kms. from PW1's native village Dhiasaibiri. The couple had a child of one and a half years of age. They were living in the rented house belonging to Raju Rao Dora (A-3). Before his marriage PW1 had served as a teacher. Seven months before settling in Village Biridi, Nabhakishore (PW1) had become a Press Reporter of the daily Newspaper 'Pragatibadi', weekly Newspaper 'Nirvika' and monthly newspaper 'Niankhuntha'. The deceased was also a Press Reporter of monthly newspaper ' Durmukha'. Besides being a Press Reporter, PW1 was also an agent of some magazines. Prior to the date of occurrence on the reports of Nabhakishore (PW1), news item in 1980 July issue of 'Nirvika' were published. The said news items were against Raju Rao Dora or Kalpana Mohanty whose brother is a friend of accused Sudhir Parida (A-4) or against Block Development Officer and against the Management of the local hospital. After publication of the said news item the accused Raju Rao Dora demanded PW1 to vacate his house and even attempted to lock the same but failed in his attempt. A-2, A-4 and A-5 threatened PW1 for his publishing the news item pertaining to the said accused and the Block Development Officer. Prior to the date of occurrence. A-3 is alleged to have assaulted PW1 and outraged the modesty of the deceased with the help of his gang regarding which PW1 lodged FIR No. 230 of 1980 at Jagatsinghpur Police Station. Again a month prior to the occurrence the said accused, with the help of persons belonging to his group, allegedly committed theft in the house in occupation of PW1 for which another FIR was lodged as a consequence of which Shibaji Mania, the nephew of A-5 was arrested. A-5 thereafter threatened PW1 of being killed if he did not leave the village at the earliest.
(3.)On 2.10.1980 A-2 who was the Sarpanch of the village directed A-4 to Keep watch over PW1. It was alleged that on that day at night A-4, A-5, A_6, and A-11 were playing cards with Hrudananda Patra (PW32) and Kalandi Charan Das (PW22) in the vacant house of A-3 which adjoined the house under the occupation of the deceased and her husband. On the morning of 3-10-1980, A-2 inquired about the whereabouts of PW1 from PW32. According to the prosecution, when the deceased and her husband were waiting at the Biridi bus stand on 3-10-1980 to leave for Cuttack, some of the accused persons met PW1 at the bus-stand and directed him to go to the office of the Congress Party at Biridi which was at a distance of about 1 kilometer from the bus-stand because A-2 wanted him to be there. However, when PW1 intimated the accused persons that he would meet A-2 on that day about 4 p.m. after coming from Cuttack, the said accused persons compelled him to immediately meet A-2 otherwise he would be lifted and forcibly taken. He was rebuked in filthy language. Under the threat of the accused persons the couple returned from the bus-stand to reach the Congress Party office in the Weekly Market. They were followed by the accused persons who had threatened them. As their house fell on the way, the couple entered inside the house and the accused following them waited outside. The deceased requested her husband not to go to the Congress Party Office with the aforesaid accused person, who thereafter attempted to enter inside the house. At this stage the deceased threatened the accused persons with a paper cutter looking like a knife which deterred them from entering the house. Subsequently A-2 and A-5 entered inside the house and dragged the couple from the house and brought them outside. A-10 and A_12 caught hold of PW1 and A-5 gave him kicks. He was taken to the Congress Party office where A-3, A-4, A-6, A- 9, A-11 and others were waiting. A-6 assaulted PW1 by giving him fists and kick blows. A-2 informed the other accused persons that PW1 was leaving the village without making payment of any person to whom he owed in all a sum of Rs. 100/-. As he expressed his inability to make the payment, A-9 and A-12 snatched away the gold ring which the deceased was wearing who had also come at that place. Thereafter one of the accused brought a piece of paper wherein it was written that the theft case reported by PW1 was false and that he was never assaulted by any of the accused persons. Outnumbered by accused persons and under their threat, the PW1 was compelled to sign the said writing. PW1 was locked in the office room of the Congress Party and released only in the evening. A-4 and A-5 threatened PW1 to leave the village that very night. When PW1 came to his house, A-2 came there and asked him to leave the house otherwise he would be killed by the accused persons. Left with no option, the couple decided to leave the place and to go to the house of Premoda Jena (PW13) who was a resident of village Manguli situated on the other side of the River Biluakhai.