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Post-Mortem Report Based On Examination Of Dead Body Is Not Substantive Evidence


Court :
Supreme Court of India

Brief :
The appeal was successful and was granted. The orders of the High Court and the trial court were overturned.

Citation :
S.L.P. (CRIMINAL) NO. 4599 OF 2021

Ghulam Hassan Beigh Vs Mohammad Maqbool Magrey
Date of Order: 26th July 2022-Supreme Court of India
S.L.P. (CRIMINAL) NO. 4599 OF 2021

A Post-Mortem Report Based On An Examination Of The Dead Body Is Not Substantive Evidence: Supreme Court

BRIEF FACTS

1. The Supreme Court stated that a trial court could not exonerate an accused from murder charges solely on the basis of a post-mortem report.

2. The Trial Court acquitted the accused of murder on the grounds that the deceased's cause of death, as given in the post-mortem report, had no link to the purported attack on the victim.

3. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court dismissed the initial complainant's revision plea and affirmed this ruling. Following that, the trial court proceeded to charge the accused with culpable homicide, a crime punishable under Section 304 IPC.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

1. Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860- The section provides the punishment for murder stating, that whoever commits murder should be punished by death orlife imprisonment as well as a fine.

2. Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860- The section is the penalty for a culpable homicide that is not murder. It states that anyone that commits culpable homicide which does not amount to murder must be punished with life imprisonment or imprisonment of either sort for a term that may extend to 10 years, as well as a fine.

3. Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973- The section titled "Examination of witnesses by police" allows for an oral exam of an individual by any investigating officer who is meant to be familiar with the information and circumstances of the case.

4. Section 227 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973- This section provides for the discharge of cases. It states that if, after reviewing the case record and the papers provided with it, and after hearing the accused's and prosecution's representations, the Judge determines that there is insufficient cause to continue against the accused, he should release the accused and record his reasons for doing so.

OVERVIEW

1. After trespassing into the appellant's personal property, the accused people created an unlawful assembly and assaulted the appellant and his family members.

2. It is claimed that all of the accused entered the appellant's property and began destroying the tin fence. When the appellant attempted to keep the accused from inflicting additional damage, they all began hitting the appellant with fisticuffs. One of the accused is accused of hitting the appellant with a wooden log. The appellant's spouse and his daughter-in-law rushed to his aid. The accused are accused of seizing the wife and daughter-in-law and beating them both up.

3. The appellant proceeded to the police station and filed the FIR in conjunction with the aforementioned occurrence.

4. The FIR was originally filed for offences punishable under Sections 147, 354, 323, and 451 of the IPC.

5. The wife had to be taken to the hospital after suffering injuries to her body, and the medic on duty proclaimed her dead. As a result, Section 302 of the IPC was incorporated into the FIR.

6. The deceased's body was subjected to a post-mortem examination. The police prepared a charge sheet against the accused for murder as well as other offences. According to the post-mortem report, the deceased died of "cardio-respiratory failure." The trial court chose to release the accused defendants from the charge of murder punishable under Section 302 of the IPC and continued to charge them with culpable homicide offence under Section 304 of the IPC.

7. The appellant herein, who was dissatisfied with the trial court's decision to withdraw the accused people from the accusation of murder, contested the legality and validity of the ruling by bringing a revision motion before the High Court.

8. The High Court decided to uphold the lower court's decision.

9. In light of the aforementioned facts, the appellant had filed this appeal with this Court.

ISSUES RAISED

i) Is the High Court right in upholding the trial court's ruling absolving the accused persons fromthe charge of murder?

POSITION OF TRIAL COURT AND HIGH COURT

10. The trial court based its position on the post-mortem report. According to the bench, based on the medical opinion on file, there was no further harm to the deceased's body other than above the lips with abrasions on the face. There was no reference in the record of whether such conduct caused the deceased's death. The injury as indicated in the injury note also did not show any such consequence that might have resulted in the deceased's death. In these circumstances, it was impossible to say that the elements of section 302 IPC are present, and hence the was ruled to not come within the parameters of section 302 IPC.

11. The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, while affirming the trial court's judgement opined that the cause of death stated in the post-mortem report was cardiac arrest and not that the deceased expired as a consequence of an injury. The bench noted that the victim was evaluated by a Medical Officer on March 22, 2020, at 3:15 p.m. According to the death certificate filed by the petitioner, she died on March 23, 2020, at 1.37 a.m. in the hospital. Therefore, the court held that the trial court correctly concluded that no offence under section 302 IPC was committed by the respondent and the petitioner's allegation was without merit.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS

12. The bench stated that the trial court and the High Court were convinced by the fact that the deceased's cause of death, as indicated in the post-mortem report, could not be linked to the claimed attack on the corpse. However, such an approach by the trial court was incorrect and must not be tolerated under the law.

13. The post-mortem report does not constitute significant evidence in and of itself. It was stated that only by recording the oral evidence of the eyewitnesses and the expert witness, as well as the other substantive evidence on record, could it be established if the cause of death has any relation with the claimed attack on the dead by the accused people.

14. Furthermore, the doctor's post-mortem report was his earlier statement based on his inspection of the deceased corpse. It was not relevant evidence. The doctor's testimony in court was the only substantial evidence.

15. The court held that the medical expert brought in to help the Court is not a fact witness, and the testimony presented by the medical officer is just advisory, based on the symptoms discovered on examination. They further stated that the prosecution should have been given the chance to prove all important facts, including the post-mortem report, through the medical officer in question by leading oral evidence and therefore seeking the expert's view.

16. It was too early for the trial court and the High Court to conclude that because no major injuries were indicated in the post-mortem report, the deceased's death due to "cardio-respiratory failure" could not be claimed to be related to the occurrence of the issue. The trial court might have concluded whether the matter fell under Section 302 or 304 only after reviewing all of the oral evidence.

17. However, it was stated that the trial court could not have drawn such a judgement based only on the port-mortem report on file at the time the case was framed. The High Court also ignored such a basic flaw in the ruling.

CONCLUSION

18. As a result, the appeal was successful and was granted. The orders of the High Court and the trial court were overturned.

19. The supreme court held that the trial court must now issue a new order formulating the charge in line with the law, taking into account the observations expressed by the bench. The bench reiterated that it did not offer an opinion on the case's merits and the remarks were entirely prima facie and solely important for determining the legality and propriety of the decision discharging the accused.

DISCLAIMER: The case law presented here is only for sharing information with readers. The views are personal.

 

FCS Deepak Pratap Singh
on 11 August 2022
Published in Others
Views : 33
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