(1.) A First Information Report was lodged by Ummed Singh (PW1) on 14th August, 2006. In the First Information Report, it was reported that PW1 is Gram Pradhan of the village concerned and that he has received an information from one Ravindra, who happens to be the nephew of Bakhtawar, that Bakhtawar has been done away with by some unknown persons. This First Information Report was registered, whereafter, inquest was prepared. From the inquest report, it is evident that the same was prepared on the open land adjacent to the house of the victim Bakhtawar. The dead body was sent for post mortem and the same was conducted by Dr. Manoj Badoni (PW8). In the post mortem report, PW8 reported that the cause of death was an ante mortem incise wound injury received by the victim on the neck region. On 18th August, 2006, the wife of the victim, namely, Neema Devi (PW2) disclosed to the police, investigating the case, that it was Baisakh Chandra, appellant No. 1, who caused the death of the victim by assaulting him once with an axe. She also disclosed that Narayan Singh, appellant No. 2, was also present at the time when the victim was done away with and Narayan Singh was looking for the papers kept inside the pocket of the victim. Accordingly, appellants were arrested. The investigating police is said to have recovered an axe and some clothes from the appellants, but the fact remains that, after such recovery was made, no further step was taken in relation thereto. Be that as it may, a charge-sheet was filed against the appellants, wherein it was alleged that the appellants are guilty of commission of an offence punishable under Section 302, read with Section 34, of the Indian Penal Code. Charge was, accordingly, framed.
(2.) In order to prove the charge, prosecution led evidence through 8 prosecution witnesses. PW8 proved that the injury suffered by the victim was caused by a heavy sharp-edged weapon, as that of an axe. PW1 stated that after the First Information Report was lodged, he went to the house of the victim, when he met PW2. PW1 stated that he found that PW2 was crying. PW1 further stated that, on enquiry about the incident and how the same had taken place, PW2 held out nothing to PW1. It was stated by PW1 that inquest was made on 14th August, 2006 and the same was signed, amongst others, by PW2. PW2, while deposing, denied the signature to be hers as appearing on the inquest report. She denied that she had any conversation with PW1. She stated that the victim had taken up the work of constructing the roof of his house and, for that matter, appellant No. 2 was to supply stone chips. It was stated that, when the construction activity was going on, appellant No. 2 was asked to bring further stone chips, but he refused. It was stated that, in that regard, there was some quarrel between the victim and appellant No. 2. She stated that the victim held out that he will take appropriate recourse to law against appellant No. 2 for non-supply of stone chips, resulting in stoppage of his construction activity. She stated that the victim had prepared certain papers containing signatures of some people for the purpose of initiation of the said proceedings. She stated that the construction work continued till about 09:00 p.m. of 13th August, 2006, whereafter, people, who were engaged by the victim for the construction activity, sat down, had drinks and dinner together and, thereafter, victim slept on the outside while she, along with her children, slept inside. She stated that, in the night around 2 O' clock, she went outside and found that appellant No. 1 is giving a blow to the victim with an axe. Appellant No. 2 held out to appellant No. 1 that the papers prepared by the victim are in his pocket, let the same be retrieved. Appellant No. 1, having seen that PW2 has seen what he has done, held out to PW2 that "you and your children will also be done away with in the same manner, unless you keep quiet". PW2 held out that she, then, lost her consciousness and regained the same on 18th August, 2006 and, immediately thereafter, informed the police investigating the case. PW2 also held out that the entire village was inimical to the family of the victim. She held out that, in relation to the work of construction, no villager was engaged and all those, who had been engaged, had come from outside. This evidence of PW2 was corroborated by her mother Smt. Makani Devi (PW3). As was stated by PW2, so was stated by PW3 that PW3 came to reside with her son-in-law on 12th August, 2006, as construction of the roof of the house of the victim was on the offing. PW3 stated that, around 2 O' clock in the night of 13th / 14th August, 2006, she also came out behind PW2 and watched and heard what PW2 had watched and heard. She stated that, having had watched and heard those things, PW2 lost her consciousness and, similarly, she also lost her consciousness. She stated that she regained consciousness on 17th August, 2006.
(3.) Considering the evidence on record, the court below has convicted the appellants. In the present appeal, great emphasis has been given to the evidence of PW1 to the effect that the inquest report contained the signature of PW2 and that the inquest report was prepared on 14th August, 2006 and, accordingly, the contention that PW2 remained unconscious from the midnight of 13th / 14th August, 2006 until 18th August, 2006, is not acceptable and, in any event, is doubtful. It is true that PW1 stated that the inquest report contained the signature of PW2, but PW2 specifically denied, when she was confronted with the said signature, that it was hers. In addition to that, she stated that she knows how to sign and she can also recognise her signature. Assertion by PW1 that the signature appearing on the inquest report is that of PW2 and denial thereof by PW2, did not prove that the said signature was of PW2. It was, therefore, not proved that the inquest report contained the signature of PW2.;