Report No. 178
18. Section 174: Proposal to requires statements of persons examined at the Inquest to be sent forthwith to the Magistrate along with Report:
This is yet another section which if properly amended, can contribute to the elimination of subsequent manipulation of the evidence or record and also eliminate witnesses turning hostile.
The section deals with the statements of persons who are examined at, what is known as the 'inquest', in the case of offences involving death of any person. No doubt, these statements are also statements which fall under section 161 but, we propose to make a separate provision in regard to such statements on the same lines as proposed in respect of Section 161.
Under sub-section (1) of section 174, a report is to be submitted by the officer-in-charge of a police station or some other police officer specially authorized by the State Governmen.- in regard to the 'apparent cause of death'. He is to give intimation to the nearest Executive Magistrate empowered to hold inquest, before proceeding to the place where the dead body is found. He shall have to make the investigation in the presence of two or more respectable inhabitants of the neighbourhood. The Report must contain the apparent cause of death, details of wounds, fractures, bruises, and other marks of injury as may be found on the body, and the manner, by what weapon or instrument, if any, such marks appear to have been inflicted.
Under sub-section (2) of section 174, the "Report" is to be signed by the 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 Subdivisional Magistrate.
Sub-section (3) deals with sending the body for postmortem and subsection (4) deals with conferment of certain powers on the Magistrates.
During the investigation under section 174, statements are recorded from several persons, some of whom may ultimately turn out to be prosecution witnesses. These statements would be of great importance, being statements given soon after the death of the person in regard to whom the offence is suspected.
If the statements of these persons are statutorily directed to be sent to the District Magistrate or the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, along with the Report referred to in sub sec.(1) of Section 174, that will ensure that there are no manipulations or malpractices in regard to those statements. As at present, a Report could be loosely worded giving scope for improving upon it in the statements that may be sent ultimately to the Magistrate under section 173(5), along with the final report.
It is, therefore, further proposed to amend section 174 (2) as follows by adding such sub Section 2(A), below sub sec.(2):
"(2A): The statements of the persons recorded at the inquest by such police officers shall be forwarded forthwith to the Magistrate.
(2B) The signature or thumb impression, as the case may be, of the person making the statement shall be obtained on his statement."