Sunday, 30 April 2017

How to appreciate evidence of inquest Report?

It was further noted by the High Court that the special report of the incident, that is, copy of the FIR had been received by the Magistrate 1½ months after the incident. Moreover, there was no time mentioned by PW8 in the relevant column as to when the inquest proceedings were started nor was any date or time mentioned in the relevant column as to when the inquest proceeding ended allegedly at the instruction of PW9, thus leading to an inference of antedating and fabrication. We find that these observations of the High Court are not supported by the evidence on record inasmuch as the DW1 was himself not sanguine as to the correct date of receipt of the FIR in the present case. He simply stated that due to workload, the entry was made on 10.08.1982. Further, PW8 had stated in his deposition that PW9 must have spoken about the date and time of starting the Panchnama to be recorded in the relevant column but he could not be certain in view of loud noise at the place of the incident at the relevant time. In any event, in the light of the position of law examined above and the observation of the Trial Court that these merely show remissness on part of the investigating officer and should not be treated as fatal to the prosecution case, we are not inclined to disbelieve the prosecution story.
 Further, the evidentiary value of the inquest report prepared under Section 174 of Cr.P.C. has also been long settled through a series of judicial pronouncements of this Court. It is well-established that inquest report is not a substantive piece of evidence and can only be looked into for testing the veracity of the witnesses of inquest. The object of preparing such report is merely to ascertain the apparent cause of death, namely, whether it is suicidal, homicidal, accidental or caused by animals or machinery etc. and stating in what manner, or by what weapon or instrument, the injuries on the body appear to have been inflicted. [See Pedda Narayan Vs. State of A.P., (1975) 4 SCC 153; Khujji Vs. State of M.P., (1991) 3 SCC 627; Kuldip Singh Vs. State of Punjab, 1992 Supp (3) SCC 1; George and Ors. Vs. State of Kerala and Anr., (2008) 4 SCC 605; Suresh Rai Vs. State of Bihar, (2000) 4 SCC 84; Amar Singh Vs. Balwinder Singh, (2003) 2 SCC 518; Radha Mohan Singh Vs. State of U.P., (2006) 2 SCC 450; Sambhu Das Vs. State of Assam, (2010) 10 SCC 374].
42. In the present case, it is not the case of the accused that they have been prejudiced by the alleged delay in dispatch of the FIR to the nearest Magistrate competent to take cognizance of such offence. Moreover, in our opinion, the non-recording of certain relevant entries in the inquest report do not constitute a material defect so grave to throw out the prosecution story and the otherwise reliable testimonies of prosecution witnesses that have mostly remained uncontroverted.
Supreme Court of India
Yogesh Singh vs Mahabeer Singh & Ors on 20 October, 2016
Bench: Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Amitava Roy
Citation: 2017 CRLJ 291 SC

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