According to Chapter XII Sec 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 states -“[i]Police to enquire and report on suicide, etc”.
(1) When the officer in charge of a police station or some other police officer specially empowered by the State Government in that behalf receives information that a person has committed suicide, or has been killed by another or by an animal or by machinery or by an accident, or has died under circumstances raising a reasonable suspicion that some other person has committed an offence, he shall immediately give intimation thereof to the nearest Executive Magistrate empowered to hold inquests, and, unless otherwise directed by any rule prescribed by the State Government, or by any general or special order of the District or Sub- divisional Magistrate, shall proceed to the place where the body of such deceased person is, and there, in the presence of two’ or more respectable inhabitants of the neighbourhood, shall make an investigation, and draw up a report of the apparent cause of death, describing such wounds, fractures, bruises, and other marks of injury as may be found on the body, and stating in what manner, or by what weapon or instrument (if any); such marks appear to have been inflicted.
(2) The report shall be signed by such police officer and other persons, or by so many of them as concur therein, and shall be forthwith forwarded to the District Magistrate or the Sub- divisional Magistrate.
(i) the case involves suicide by a woman within seven years of her marriage; or
(ii) the case relates to the death of a woman within seven years of her marriage in any circumstances raising a reasonable suspicion that some other person committed an offence in relation to such woman; or
(iii) the case relates to the death of a woman within seven years of her marriage and any relative of the woman has made a request in this behalf; or
(iv) there is any doubt regarding the cause of death; or
(v) the police officer for any other reason considers it expedient so to do, he shall subject to such rules as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf, forward the body, with a view to its being examined, to the nearest Civil Surgeon, or other qualified medical man appointed in this behalf by the State Government, if the state of the weather and the distance admit of its being so forwarded without risk of such putrefaction on the road as would render such examination useless.
(4) The following Magistrates are empowered to hold inquests, namely, any District Magistrate or Sub- divisional Magistrate and any other Executive Magistrate specially empowered in this behalf by the State Government or the District Magistrate”.
When the police officer-in-charge or some police officer specially empowered by the State Government in that behalf receives information that a person has committed suicide or has been killed by another animal or by machinery or by accident or has died any other circumstances raising a reasonable suspicion that some other person has committed an offence he/she shall be immediately given intimation thereof to the nearest Executive Magistrate empowered to hold inquests and unless otherwise directed by any rule prescribed by the State Government or by any General or special order of the District or Sub Divisional Magistrate shall proceed to the place where the body of such deceased person is and there in [ii]the presence of two or more than two respectable inhabitants of the neighbourhood, shall proceed to investigation and make a report of the apparent cause of death describing the wounds, fractures or injuries may found on the body by stating in what manner or by what weapon or any instrument such mark has appeared in the victim’s body. The report shall be empowered by the State Government in the behalf is known as Inquest Report.
Thus the [iii] Inquest Report shall be signed by such police officers and other persons or by so many of them as concur therein and shall be forthwith forwarded to the District Magistrate or Sub Divisional Magistrate.
[iv]Inquest can also be defined as a public inquiry into death which is held to established the identity of the deceased; the date, place, time and other circumstances surrounding the death including the medical cause of death.
Inquest adjourned due to Criminal Prooceedings
It must be made clear to the families that the reopening of the inquest cannot produce a finding or a verdict of any civil or criminal liability or an outcome which conflicts with a criminal court.
Verdicts available at inquest
Following verdicts are available at the time of Inquest.
- Death by misadventure
- Accidential Death
- Medical misadventure
- Suicide/ Self-inflicted death.
Notice of an inquest-
The coroner should arrange to notify the next of kin regarding the holding of an Inquest. A minimum period of 2 weeks notice should be given.[v]
Records to be kept–
All records submitted to the inquest shall be kept. It includes-
- Expert Reports
- Post-Mortem Report
- Copy of Hospital notes
- Copy of the coroner’s certificate of causing death
- Any other related documents presented at Inquest.
Taking or requesting documentary evidence at inquest-
The coroner may admit non-contentious documentary evidence provided;
- Interested parties have been notified that such evidence will be admitted ;&
- [vi]The coroner announces that he intends to admit the evidence.
[vii]WHEN SHOULD A CORONER BE DISQUALIFIED FROM CARRYING OUT AN INQUEST-
Where there is a potential conflict of interest such as:
- when there has been a personal or professional relationship with the deceased;
- when there is a professional relationship with an interested person or witness, such as a doctor in the same practice or hospital;
- where the coroner has a pecuniary or proprietary interest in the outcome of the inquest.
“The views of the authors are personal“