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Report No. 206

9. "Exhumation of body for examination

23.- (1) A Coroner may order the exhumation of the body of a person buried within his district where it appears to him that it is necessary for the body to be examined -

(a) for the purpose of his holding an inquest into that person's death or discharging any other function of his in relation to the body or the death; or

(b) for the purposes of any criminal proceedings which have been instituted or are contemplated in respect of the death of that person or of some other person who came by his death in circumstances connected with the death of the person whose body is needed for examination.

(2) The power of a Coroner under this section shall be exercisable by warrant under his hand.

(3) No body shall be ordered by a Coroner to be exhumed except under this Section."

10. A Coroner will have jurisdiction over a dead body found within his territorial jurisdiction whether the death has occurred in any part of the country or even abroad. The cause of action will not depend on the cause of the death which might be arisen at some other territorial jurisdiction like bullet injury or administration of poison in some other territory and the presence of the body will by itself determine the cause of action by a Coroner.

11. (1) If it appears to the Coroner either before or in the course of an inquiry under section 7 that there is reason to suspect -

(a) that the deceased came by his death by homicide, suicide or infanticide; or

(b) that the death was caused by an accident, or poison or machinery; or

(c) that the death was caused by an occurrence arising out of the use of a vehicle in a street, public road or in a private place; or

(d) that the death occurred in a prison in which the deceased was a prisoner or that it occurred whilst the deceased was in the custody of the police; or

(e) that the death occurred -

in a leper asylum appointed under the Lepers Act, 1898;

(f) in an asylum or mental hospital established or licensed under the Indian Lunacy Act, 1912;

(g) in a Borstal School established under the Bombay Borstal Schools Act, 1929;

(h) in a Receiving Centre or Certified Institution provided and maintained under the Bombay Beggars Act, 1945;

(i) in any certified school, Remand Home or fit person institution or approved place, established, maintained, declared or recognized, as the case may be, under the Bombay Children Act, 1948; in which the deceased was received, detained, committed to, confined or kept, as the case may be, under the orders of any authority competent to pass such orders under the said Acts; or

(j) that the death occurred in circumstances the continuance or possible recurrence of which is prejudicial to the health or safety of the public or any section of the public: and in any other case, if it appears to the Coroner either before or in the course of the preliminary inquiry that there is reason for holding an inquest, he shall proceed to hold such inquest, whether or not the cause of death arose within his jurisdiction;

(k) that the death is caused in a hospital/nursing home, whether run by Government, a trust - public or private, or a purely private hospital or nursing home;

(l) death has occurred on the railways or tramways or airways or other vehicles, whether mechanically propelled or driven by hand;

(m) death has occurred in a police firing;

(n) death has occurred in a police encounter;

(o) death has occurred in public parks or at places of public resort;

(p) dowry deaths within the households where there is a complaint regarding the demand of dowry by any person;

Provided that a Coroner will have no jurisdiction in case of death of a person who is under detention or arrest of the defence forces under the command of an official of the defence forces."

(2) Such inquest shall ordinarily be held in the Coroner's Court house.

(3) The Coroner may hold one inquest on the bodies of several persons provided that they all are believed to have come by their deaths, in or in consequence of one and the same incident.

(4) Every such inquest shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of section 193 of the Indian Penal Code and for the purpose of any such inquest the Coroner shall have and may exercise all the powers of a Criminal Court under section 340 and section 345 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

12. (1) Where a person dies -

(a) in a prison situate within the local limits of the Coroner's jurisdiction, the Superintendent of the prison,

(b) while in the custody of the police, the police officer in charge of the station concerned,

(c) in any of the places referred to in clause (e) to (j) of subsection (1) of section 11, the Superintendent where there is a Superintendent appointed for such place and elsewhere, the person in charge of the place,

(d) in respect of the cases covered under clauses (k) to (p) of section 11 by the concerned authority or the individual, shall report the death to the Coroner and await his orders before the body is disposed of.

(2) Any Superintendent of prison, or any such police officer or any Superintendent or person in charge of the place referred to in clause (e) to (j) of subsection (1) of section 11, concerned authority or the individual under clauses (k) to (p), who fails to comply with the requirements in subsection (1) shall, on conviction before a Magistrate, be punished with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

13. (1) Any person who, with the intention of preventing the holding of an inquest on a dead body which the Coroner is bound to hold under section 11, buries, cremates or otherwise disposes of it, and any person who with such intention abets such burial, cremation or disposal of a dead body shall, on conviction before a Magistrate, be punished with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

(2) Such punishment shall be in addition to the punishment to which such person may be liable for any offence of which he may be found guilty in respect of the death of the deceased or under section 201 of the Indian Penal Code.

14. A Coroner may order a body to be disinterred within a reasonable time after the death of the deceased person, either for the purpose of taking an original inquisition where none has been taken, or a further inquisition is, in the opinion of the Coroner, necessary or desirable in the interests of justice.

15. The Coroner will conduct the inquest himself by calling such number of credible witnesses as he deems fit, but not less than three in number.

16. At or before the first sitting of an inquest on a body the Coroner shall view the body.

Provided that when a preliminary inquiry on the body has been held under section 7, or if from the medical evidence or from a medical certificate, the Coroner is satisfied that no advantage will result from such viewing, the Coroner may dispense with a view of the body at the inquest.

17. The Coroner shall then make proclamation for the attendance of witnesses, or, where the inquiry is conducted in secret, shall call in separately such person who knows anything concerning the death.

18. (1) It shall be the duty of all persons acquainted with the circumstances attending the death to appear before the inquest as witnesses - The Coroner shall inquire of such circumstances and the cause of death, and if before or during the inquiry he is informed that any person, whether within or without the local limits of his jurisdiction, can given evidence or produce any document material thereto, may issue a summon requiring him to attend and give evidence or produce such document on the inquest.

(2) When any person so summoned fails to appear and the summons has been proved to be duly served on him in time to admit of his appearing in accordance therewith and no reasonable excuse is offered for such failure, the Coroner may, after recording his reasons in writing, issue a warrant for his arrest. Such warrant shall be executed as if it were issued under section 87 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

(3) Any person disobeying a summons issued under subsection (1) shall be deemed to have committed an offence under section 174, section 175 or section 176 of the Indian Penal Code, as the case may be.

(4) For the purpose of causing prisoners to be brought up to give evidence the Coroner shall be deemed a Criminal Court within the meaning of Part IX of the Prisoner's Act, 1900.

19. (1) If before proceeding to view a body under section 7 or at the view or at any stage of an inquest by jury, it appears to the Coroner that a post mortem examination of the body is necessary to ascertain the cause of death, he may direct such examination to beheld by the civil surgeon or by a duly qualified registered medical practitioner invited to attend as a witness. The Coroner may also direct an analysis of any of the organs or parts of the body or of their contents.

Every medical witness other than the Chemical Examiner to Government and the Coroner's Surgeon shall be entitled so such reasonable remuneration as the Coroner thinks fit. For the purpose of such post mortem examination the Coroner may order the removal of the body to any place within his jurisdiction which may be provided for that purpose.

(2) Any document purporting to be a report under the hand of any Chemical Examiner or Assistant Chemical Examiner to Government upon any matter or thing duly submitted to him for examination, or analysis and report in the course of any proceeding under this Act, may be used as evidence in any inquest under this Act and in any subsequent inquiry, trial or other proceeding under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

20. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the Coroner may at any stage of the proceedings under this Act for the purposes of preservation of safe custody, order the removal of the body to any place within his jurisdiction which may have been provided for that purpose.

21. (1) All evidence given under this Act shall, except in the case provided in subsection (2), be on oath and the Coroner shall be bound to receive evidence on behalf of the person who is alleged to have caused or to be concerned in causing the death of the deceased person.

(2) If such person himself wishes to make a statement it shall be the duty of the Coroner to warn him that he is not bound to make any statement; but if such person persists, the Coroner shall, without administering him any oath, record his statement in full after duly warning him that any incriminating statement which he may make may be used in evidence in any subsequent inquiry, trial or other proceeding under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

(3) For the purpose of section 26 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872, a Coroner shall be deemed to be a Magistrate.

(4) Witnesses unacquainted with the English language shall be examined through the medium of an interpreter, who shall be sworn to interpret truly as well the oath as the question put to, and the answers given by each witness.

22. The Coroner may adjourn the inquest from time to time, and from place to place.

23. (1) If on an inquest touching a death, the Coroner is informed that criminal proceedings, have been instituted against some person before a Magistrate in respect of an offence touching the death of the deceased, he may adjourn the inquest and submit his proceedings to the Magistrate.

(2) For the purposes of this section, the expression "the criminal proceedings" means the proceedings before a Magistrate and before any court to which the accused person is committed for trial or before which an appeal from the conviction of that person is heard, and criminal proceedings shall not be deemed to be concluded until no further appeal can be made in the course thereof.

24. When all the witnesses have been examined, the Coroner shall sum up the evidence, the Coroner shall thereafter will submit his report with the necessary details and reasons to the Commissioner of Police. The report will be regarded as a material evidence in any Court or any other criminal proceedings.

25. The Coroner may also, where the report justifies him in taking the belief that the death of the deceased person was occasioned by an act which amounts to an offence under any law in force in India he may issue his warrant for the apprehension of the person who is found to have caused the death of the deceased person, and send him forthwith to a Magistrate empowered to commit him for trial.

26. When the proceedings are closed, or before, if it be necessary to adjourn the inquest, the Coroner shall give his warrant for the [disposal] of the body on which the inquest has been taken.

27. No inquest shall be quashed for any technical defect.

In any case of technical defect, a Judge of the High court may, if he thinks fit, order the inquest to be amended, and the same shall forthwith be amended accordingly. Provided that any person who is not satisfied with the report of the Coroner may approach the High Court by moving an application for appointment of another Coroner and for the submission of his report, and if the High Court is satisfied, it may direct accordingly. The High Court may also direct an inquest by a Coroner of a different district within its own jurisdiction.

28. It shall no longer be the duty of the Coroner to inquire whether any person dying by his own act was or was not felo de se, to inquire of treasure trove or wrecks to seize any fugitive's goods, to execute process or to exercise as Coroner has no jurisdiction conferred by this Act.

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