Friday 14 April 2023

Leading Supreme Court Judgment on appreciation of evidence of Bite mark analysis

 The Odontology report

233. Now, we shall analyse the Odontology report. In today's world, Odontology is a branch of forensic science in which dental knowledge is applied to assist the criminal justice delivery system. S. Keiser-Nielsen, an authority on Forensic Odontology defines the basic concept of Forensic Odontology in the following words:

A. Forensic odontology is that branch of odontology which in the interests of justice deals with the proper handling and examination of dental evidence and with the proper evaluation and presentation of dental findings. Only a dentist can handle and examine dental evidence with any degree of accuracy; therefore, this field is above all a dental field.

234. Professor Neilsen, elaborating on Forensic Odontology, further states:

B. There are three reasons for considering forensic odontology a well-defined and more or less independent subject:1) it has objectives different from those at which conventional dental education aims; 2) forensic dental work requires investigations and considerations different from those required in ordinary dental practice; and 3) forensic dental reports and statements have to be presented in accordance with certain legal formalities in order to be of value to those requesting aid.

The area of forensic odontology consists of three major fields of activity: 1) the examination and evaluation of injuries to teeth, jaws, and oral tissues from various causes: 2) the examination of bite marks with a view to the subsequent elimination or possible identification of a suspect as the originator; and 3) the examination of dental remains (whether fragmentary or complete, and including all types of dental restoration) from unknown persons or bodies for the purpose of identification.

235. In the instant case, the prosecution has relied upon the odontology report, i.e., bite mark analysis report prepared by P.W. 71, Dr. Ashith B. Acharya, to link the incident with the accused persons. The Odontology report links accused Ram Singh and accused Akshay with the crime in question.

236. Dr. K.S. Narayan Reddy, in his book, Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology (Law, Practice and Procedure), Third Edition, 2010, Chapter VIII page 268, has extensively dealt with human bites, their patterns, the manner in which they should be lifted with a swab and moistened with sterile water and the manner in which such swabs need to be handled is delineated along with their usefulness in identification. The High Court has also referred to the same. It is as follows:

They are useful in identification because the alignment of teeth is peculiar to the individual. Bite marks may be found in materials left at the place of crime e.g., foodstuffs, such as cheese, bread, butter, fruit, or in humans involved in assaults, when either the victim or the accused may show the marks, usually on the hands, fingers, forearms, nose and ears.

237. After making the aforesaid observations, the author dwells upon the various methods used for bite mark analysis including the photographic method, which method was utilized in the instant case. The photographic method is described as under:

Photographic method: The bite mark is fully photographed with two scales at right angle to one another in the horizontal plane. Photographs of the teeth are taken by using special mirrors which allow the inclusion of all the teeth in the upper or lower jaws in one photograph. The photographs of the teeth are matched with photographs or tracings of the teeth. Tracings can be made from positive casts of a bite impression, inking the cutting edges of the front teeth. These are transferred to transparent sheets, and superimposed over the photographs, or a negative photograph of the teeth is superimposed over the positive photograph of the bite. Exclusion is easier than positive matching.

238. In the present case, the photographs of bite marks taken by P.W. 66, Shri Asghar Hussein, of different parts of the body of the prosecutrix were examined by P.W. 71, Dr. Ashith B. Acharya. The photographs depicted the bite marks on the body of the prosecutrix. The said bite marks found on the body of the victim were compared with the dental models of the suspects. The analysis showed that at least three bite marks were caused by accused Ram Singh, whereas one bite mark has been identified to have been most likely caused by accused Akshay. An excerpt from the report, Ex. P.W. 71/C, of P.W. 71, Dr. Ashith B. Acharya, has been extracted by the High Court. It reads thus:

........ There is absence of any unexplainable discrepancies between the bite marks on Photograph No. 4 and the biting surfaces of one of the accused person's teeth, namely Ram Singh. Therefore, there is reasonable medical certainty that the teeth on the dental models of the accused person named Ram Singh caused the bite marks visible on Photograph No. 4; also the bite marks on Photograph Nos. 1 and 2 show some degree of specificity to this accused person's teeth by virtue of a sufficient number of concordant points, including some corresponding unconventional/individual characteristics. Therefore, the teeth on the dental models of the accused person with the name Ram Singh probably also caused the bite marks visible on Photograph Nos. 1 and 2........

x x x x x The comparison also shows that there is a concordance in terms of general alignment and angulation of the biting surfaces of the teeth of the lower jaw on the dental models of the accused person with the name Akshay and the corresponding bite marks visible on Photograph No. 5. In particular, the comparison revealed concordance between the biting surface of the teeth on the lower jaw of the dental models of the accused person with the name Akshay and the bite mark visible on Photograph No. 5 in relation to the rotated left first incisor whose mesial surface pointed towards the tongue. Overall, the bite mark shows some degree of specificity to the accused person's teeth by virtue of a number of concordant points, including one corresponding unconventional/individual characteristic. There is an absence of any unexplainable discrepancies between the bite mark and the biting surfaces of this accused person's teeth. Therefore, the teeth on the dental models of the accused person with the name Akshay probably caused the bite marks visible on Photograph No. 5.

239. Be it noted, the present is a case where the victim's body contained various white bite marks. Bite mark analysis play an important role in the criminal justice system. Advanced development of technology such as laser scanning, scanning electron microscopy or cone beam computed tomography in forensic odontology is utilized to identify more details in bite marks and in the individual teeth of the bite. Unlike fingerprints and DNA, bite marks lack the specificity and durability as the human teeth may change over time. However, bite mark evidence has other advantages in the criminal justice system that links a specific individual to the crime or victim. For a bite mark analysis, it must contain abundant information and the tooth that made the mark must be quite distinctive.

240. Bite marks in skin are photographed in cases where the suspect is apprehended. A thorough dental combination is administered after dental examination of the suspect. Final comparison of the details of the original mark with the dentation of the suspect is done by experts.

241. The bite marks generally include only a limited number of teeth. The teeth and oral structure of the accused are examined by experts and, thereafter, bite marks are compared and reports are submitted. Forensic Odontology is a science and the most common application of Forensic Odontology is for the purpose of identification of persons from their tooth structure.

242. Forensic Odontology has established itself as an important and indispensable science in medico-legal matters and expert evidence through various reports which have been utilized by courts in the administration of justice. In the case at hand, the report is wholly credible because of matching of bite marks with the tooth structure of the accused persons and there is no reason to view the same with any suspicion. Learned Counsel for the Appellants would only contend that the whole thing has been stage-managed. We are not impressed by the said submission, for the evidence brought on record cogently establish the injuries sustained by the prosecutrix and there is consistency between the injuries and the report. We are not inclined to accept the hypothesis that bite marks have been managed.


Criminal Appeal Nos. 607-608 of 2017 

Decided On: 05.05.2017

Mukesh and Ors.  Vs. State for NCT of Delhi and Ors.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:

Dipak Misra, Ashok Bhushan and R. Banumathi, JJ.

Citation: AIR 2017 SC 2161,(2017) 6 SCC 1,MANU/SC/0575/2017.

Read full Judgment here : Click here

Print Page

No comments:

Post a Comment