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Inquest report not substantive evidence for ascertaining cause of death : Supreme Court

In a criminal case, inquest report by the police cannot be considered as a substantive evidence when a person dies under suspicious circumstances and object of court is to ascertain apparent cause of death was upheld in the Supreme Court of India through the learned division bench led by HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE SANJAY KISHAN KAUL and HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE MM SUNDRESH in the case of Pappu Tiwari v. State of Jharkhand (Criminal Appeal No. 1492 of 2021).

Brief facts of the case are that the accused Pappu Tiwari allegedly shot at the late Vikas Kumar Singh, who was on his way for the same reason. The other accused then allegedly injured Singh using a knife and he died. The defendants were charged with murder. The inquest report failed to identify the gunshot injury but post mortem depicted that the cause of death was from shock and bleeding caused by vital and multiple injuries. Injuries were defined as one and two firm arm injuries.

The counsel for appellant contended that There were great differences between the investigation report and the autopsy report. An attempt was made to relate this issue to the claim that the FIR was pre-timed. It was stated that there were differences in the version, showing that Fardbeyan was admitted only after the autopsy report. In addition, six injuries were mentioned without a gunshot wound in the investigation report, while the autopsy report stated that there were 26 injuries including gunshot wounds.

The counsel for respondent contended that the investigation report cannot be considered as the main evidence, but it can be used to oppose the investigation witness. He argued that the investigation report was not in itself evidence and that the testimony of the medical witness in court could not be challenged.

The Supreme Court of India held the investigation report is not substantive evidence as its purpose is to reveal only the apparent cause of death of the suspiciously deceased person, the differences between the investigation report and the autopsy report, even if these differences are large, are not fatal to the prosecution case. The court said that since the expert was the doctor who performed the autopsy and he was a forensic expert, he did not suspect that it was a murder case.Two gunshot wounds were clearly identified by detecting wounds at entry and exit. Therefore, the Court dismissed the appeal.

Click here to read the judgement

Judgement reviewed by- Bhaswati Goldar

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