In cases of death due to suspected poisoning, the prosecuting agency should send the viscera to aforensic science laboratory immediately after post-mortem, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A Bench of Justices Ranjana Desai and J. Chelameswar said these tests were vital to the investigation of a criminal case, particularly when witnesses tended to turn hostile.
The forensic science lab should examine the viscera immediately and send a report to investigating agencies and courts post-haste. If the report was not received, the court must summon the lab officer and ask him to explain. The court must ensure that the report was brought on record.
Writing the judgment, Justice Desai said: “We express our displeasure at the way in which such serious cases are dealt with. We wonder whether these lapses are inadvertent or a calculated move to frustrate prosecution. Though the forensic science lab report is not mandatory in all cases, in cases of suspected poisoning, it would be advisable, and in the interests of justice, to ensure that the viscera are sent to the forensic science lab and its report is obtained. This is because not in all cases is there adequate evidence on record to prove that the deceased was administered poison by the accused.”
In the instant appeal, Joshinder Yadav and others were charged with subjecting Bindula Devi to cruelty and harassment so as to coerce her and her relatives into parting with their property; as she refused, they murdered her and caused the body to disappear. They were awarded life sentence by a trial court and the Patna High Court up held the ruling. Dismissing the appeal, the Bench said: “This is the third case in which this court has noticed that in a short span of two months, … the viscera report has not been brought on record.”
The Bench directed that a copy of this order be sent to the Registrar-Generals of all High Courts with a directive that they circulate it among all subordinate criminal courts; the Director of Prosecution; the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs; the Secretary, Home Department; and the Director, Forensic Science Laboratory within the jurisdiction of the High Courts.