Investigation of Unnatural death case by Bengal Police

Under Bengal Police regulation 

IV. – Unnatural deaths and injuries.

299. Inquiries into unnatural and suspicious deaths. First information to be submitted. [§ 12, Act V, 1861]. –

(a) Immediately after receipt of information of a death occurring in any of the circumstances mentioned in section 174, Code of Criminal Procedure, a First Information Form shall be submitted in B.P. Form No. 48. The information shall be recorded in the same manner as a first information in the case of cognizable crime.

(b) A Sub-Inspector, Assistant Sub-Inspector or head constable shall then proceed to the place where the body of the deceased person is, and after making the investigation prescribed in section 174, Code of Criminal Procedure, and making such further enquiry as may be necessary shall submit his final report to the nearest Magistrate empowered to hold inquests. The investigation report, signed by the police officer and two or more respectable persons, as required by section 174 of that Code shall be attached to the final report. (See regulation 300.)

(c) Case diaries shall be submitted in enquiries into unnatural or suspicious deaths only if the enquiry lasts more than one day. But if the police officer making the enquiry finds reason to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence, the enquiry becomes one under section 157, Code of Criminal Procedure and case diaries shall be submitted.

(d) Where several persons meet their death by the same accident, there shall be a separate report on each body, but not necessarily a separate first information or final report.

(e) One copy of the First Information Report and final report shall be kept at the police-station. The number of the corresponding entry in the death register and register of persons killed by wild animals shall be noted at the top.

(f) The following procedure shall be observed in connection with deaths occurring in hospitals situated in Calcutta from injuries sustained within the jurisdiction of the Bengal Police; –

In all cases where a person seriously injured is sent from a mufassil police-station to a hospital in the town or suburbs of Calcutta, a note showing brief facts of the case together with names and addresses of witnesses who will prove facts in connection with the injury should be sent by the Bengal Police-station concerned to the officer-in-charge of the Calcutta Police section where the hospital is situated. Further, a relation of the injured man or a constable of the Bengal Police-station concerned should stay in the hospital or in the neighbourhood in order to identify the body at the time of post-mortem in case of death.
The investigation shall be held by the officer-in-charge of the Calcutta Police section, before whom the officer-in-charge of the Bengal Police-station concerned shall produce all available evidence to enable him to arrive at a definite conclusion regarding the cause of death.

300. Powers of Assistant Sub-Inspectors and Junior Sub-Inspectors under section 174(1), Criminal Procedure Code, and duties of constables left in charge. –

(a) Assistant Sub-Inspectors and Junior Sub-Inspectors subordinate to a officer in-charge of a police-station are empowered to act under section 174(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Assistant Sub-Inspectors, however, shall not be so employed when a Sub-Inspector is available, nor shall they make enquiries in any case in which the information or the circumstances indicate the possibility of the death being the result of foul play.
(b) A constable cannot make an enquiry ; but when no other officer is present at the station, the senior constable shall proceed to the spot, take charge of the body, note its state and make all arrangements for its despatch, in case the enquiring officer desires to send it for examination.

301. Inquiries into unnatural or suspicious deaths by presidents or selected members of panchayats or by presidents or members of union boards and Forest Officers. –

(a) When a president or a selected member of a Panchayat or the president or vice-president or a selected member of a union board, who is authorized by the District Magistrate to enquire into the circumstances of unnatural deaths in which there is no suspicion of suicide or foul play, makes such an enquiry, he shall forward a report signed by two relatives of the deceased, or if there are none available, by two respectable inhabitants of the neighbourhood to the officer-in-charge of the police-station (within the limits of which the death occurred) who shall forward the report to the Court officer through the Circle Inspector unless there is any obvious error or irregularity in the report in which case he will record the first information and return the report to the sender for correction. On receipt of such report, the officer-in-charge of the police-station shall not proceed to the spot or hold an enquiry, unless he has reason to suspect the occurrence of suicide or foul play.
(b) Similar enquiries subject to the same conditions as prescribed above may be made within their respective jurisdictions in forest areas (except of the Darjeeling division), where there is no chaukidari union or union board, by Sub-divisional Forest officers or Range officers who may be authorised by the District Officer for the purpose.

302. Death of European Officer or soldier. – (a) A police officer empowered to hold enquiries, who receives information that a European soldier or officer of the Army has committed suicide, or has been killed, or has died in the circumstances mentioned in section 174(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, shall not proceed to the spot, but shall confine his action to sending an immediate report to the nearest Magistrate empowered to hold inquests.

(b) Death of a prisoner in police custody. – When a person died in the custody of the police, the officer empowered to hold enquiries, who receives notice of his death, shall send information at once to the nearest Magistrate, but he shall not refrain from commencing an inquiry under section 17.4 of that Code himself. Information shall also be given by telegram, if possible, to the Superintendent and, if not, by the quickest means of communication available.

303. Directions for investigation in cases of suspicious and unnatural deaths. [§12, Act V, 1861]. –

In investigating unnatural and suspicious deaths, the directions in Appendix XIX shall be observed by the police with a view to obtaining as much medico-legal evidence as possible. The instructions contained in “A Guide to Medical Jurisprudence” by Col. R.N. Campbell, C.B., C.I.E., shall also be followed according to the requirements of each case.

304. Corpses sent for post-mortem examination. [§ 12, Act V, 1861]. –

(a) When a corpse is sent in for post-mortem examination, it shall be accompanied by a copy of the surat hal report and a chalan in duplicate in B.P. Form No. 49 one copy of which shall be addressed to the Court officer who shall forward it to the Superintendent and the other copy to the medical officer holding the post-mortem examination. All corpses shall be sent to the headquarters of the district, unless the medical officer at the subdivision has been authorised by the Provincial Government to conduct post-mortem examinations. Post-mortem examination shall, as usual, be done in cases of infectious diseases, e.g., tetanus, plague, small pox, etc., whenever required by the police.
(b) The chalan shall contain the date and hour of the actual despatch of the corpse, an accurate description of if, a statement of the apparent cause of death, the circumstances, if any, which give rise to any suspicion of foul play and an accurate list of clothes and articles sent in with the corpse.

(c) When sending a corpse for post-mortem examination, a sufficient quantity of powered charcoal shall be placed next to it and a sheet wound round it, and in all cases wherever a charpoy can be obtained, the corpse shall be carried upon it and shall not be slung on a bamboo.

305. Duties of constable in charge. [§12, Act V, 1861]. –

(a) The corpse shall be sent in charge of a trustworthy constable whose name, together with those of the bearers and other accompanying it, shall be recorded in the chalan.
(b) The constable shall be given a command certificate, on which the date and hour of his arrival shall be noted by the medical officer.

(c) A constable in charge of a corpse shall be given strict orders not to loiter on the road but to lake it by the nearest route direct to the dead-house.

(d) After leaving the body at the dead-house, he shall immediately deliver the surat hal report and one copy of the chalan to the Civil Surgeon (at headquarters) or Assistant or Sub-Assistant Surgeon (at subdivisions). He shall obtain on the second copy of the chalan the medical officer’s endorsement of the date and hour of his arrival and deliver it to the Court officer, who shall forward it immediately to the Superintendent or Sub-divisional Police Officer, as the case may be.

306. Post-mortem examination and report. –

(a) On completing of post-mortem examination the medical officer shall fill up the whole of the B.P. Form No. 50 in triplicate by the pen-carbon process. One of the carbon copies shall be sent to the investigating officer through the constable who brought in the corpse. The original report with the chalan form and surat hal shall be forwarded to the Superintendent, direct, or in the case of a subordinate medical officer, despatched to the Superintendent, through the Civil Surgeon for his remarks. The Superintendent shall then forward the report to the Court officer to lay before the Magistrate concerned. The register of post-mortem examinations shall be kept by the medical officer.
(b) Police officers shall refer to the Civil Surgeon if they have any doubt in regard to any part of the medical report.

307. Presence of police officer at post-mortem examination. [§ 12, Act V, 1861]. –

(a) The police officer sent in charge of a corpse need not be present throughout the details of the post-mortem examination. It will suffice if he stands sufficiently near to be able to testify that the body which had been in his charge was the one examined by the medical officer. He should be present at the Court when the medical officer’s testimony as to the result of the examination is given, in order that the identity of the body examined, with the body to which the criminal case relates, may be established, if necessary.
(b) When possible, investigating police officers should be encouraged to attend the post-mortem examination.

(c) When a Magistrate in session of a case considers, for reasons to be recorded in writing, the presence of another medical practitioner to be essential in the interest of justice, one or more medical practitioners to be selected by the Magistrate, may be allowed to be present as witnesses at an autopsy or other medico-legal examination, conducted by a medical officer in the service of the Crown in connection with the case.

308. Expenses of forwarding corpses. – Expenses incurred in transmitting corpses or wounded or sick persons to the medical officer for examination or treatment in all cases, railway included, shall be met by the Magistrates, and not from the police budget. In railway cases the bills shall be sent to the Magistrate through the Court officer, and the latter shall see that the bills are passed and paid without unnecessary delay.

309. Carriage of dead bodies by railway to post-mortem centres without prepayment of fees. – On the East Indian, Bengal-Nagpur and Bengal and Assam Railway accommodation for the carriage of dead bodies to post-mortem centres is provided, without prepayment of fees, on requisition to the station-master of the nearest railway-station by an officer not below the rank of an officer-in-charge of a police station or, in his absence, by the senior police officer present at the police station.
The freight of a dead body shall be paid later by the District Magistrate on receipt of a bill from the station-master from whose station the body was despatched. The requisition to the station-master should be made in B.P. Form No. 51 which officers-in-charge of police stations should keep in stock for use when occasion arises.

310. Disposal of dead bodies. – The final disposal of the body rests with the Magistrate or the municipal authorities, according to local arrangements. Charges incurred by the police for the disposal of bodies of persons who have died within railway limits and are not claimed by their friends, shall be paid for by the Magistrate from his district budget.

311. Post-mortem and clinical examinations on animals. [§12, Act V, 1861]. – (a) When an animal has died or has been injured and the commission of a cognizable offence is suspected, a Magistrate or a police officer not below the rank of Sub-Inspector or an Assistant Sub-Inspector if he is an officer-in-charge of a police station, is authorised to require a veterinary assistant, where such an officer is available, to perform a postmortem or clinical examination. When the circumstances of the case require it, the veterinary assistant will also superintend the removal and despatch to the Chemical Examiner of the viscera of the animal, and the expenditure incurred on that account shall be met by the Magistrate out of his contingent grant. (Vide rule 64 of the Bengal Veterinary Manual.)
Note. – Regarding the fees payable to veterinary assistants for such examinations, which are payable by the Magistrate, see rule 65 of the Bengal Veterinary Manual.

(b) In places where there is no veterinary assistant, or when that officer is absent on tour or otherwise not available, the Civil Surgeon shall perform the post-mortem examination and shall, when necessary, superintend the removal and despatch of the viscera to the Chemical Examiner.

Wounded persons

312. Medical Examination of wounded persons. [§12, Act V, 1861]. – (a) When a wounded person is sent in for medical examination, a report in Bengal Form No. 3865 shall be sent to the medical officer.
(b) The rules relating to duplicate chalans and sending intimation to the Superintendent, the Civil Surgeon, and the station police, in post-mortem cases, shall be observed in cases of wound or injury.

(c) Medical officers’ reports in. B.P. Form No. 50 and Bengal Form No. 3865 need not be attached to the final form, or form part of the Magistrate’s record of the case, as such reports are not legal evidence.

(d) Wounded persons brought into a station by the police but not charged with any offence shall be sent, unless they object, to the nearest charitable hospital or dispensary, sub-divisional hospital or headquarters hospital, as the case may be, and the expenses incurred in sending them there shall be met by the Magistrate. Those brought in police custody and charged with an offence, shall be treated in the jail hospital, unless they are released on bail, in which case they may be sent to the charitable hospital only by order of the Magistrate.

(e) In serious cases police-station officers shall send wounded persons, not required to be kept in custody, without any delay, direct to the nearest charitable hospital with indoor accommodation for first aid. Such cases can subsequently be removed for treatment to the hospital at sub-divisional headquarters, where all cases which are not of a serious nature shall be taken for treatment from the beginning (for expenses see regulation 308).

If a wounded person in a medico-legal case declines to go to hospital or is too ill to be removed to hospital the police shall requisition the services of the nearest medical officer in the service of the Crown for the purpose of obtaining a medico-legal certificate.
If no medical officer in the service of the Crown is available, either the doctor of a Local Fund Dispensary or a private registered medical practitioner may be called in to make the examination for the purposes of a medico-legal certificate and paid a fee not exceeding Rs. 4 from the contract contingent grant of the Superintendent concerned.

(f) If a case of wound or injury is a dangerous one, the investigating officer shall take immediate measures to have the injured man’s statement recorded by a Magistrate. (See regulation 266.)

(g) The consent of an injured person is necessary to his removal to hospital.

(h) On no account shall women be subjected to medical examination without their consent.

313. Submission of finger prints of unidentified dead bodies for search. [§ 12, Act V, 1861]. –

(a) Where the identity of a corpse, or of a person killed by accident or who met with death under suspicious circumstances or in the act of committing dacoities, burglaries or other offences has not been fully ascertained by ordinary inquiries, the finger prints should be taken on finger print slip form (B.P. Form No. 52) and sent to the Finger Print Bureau for search together with a search reference slip (B.P. Form No. 53).
(b) Ordinarily there is not much difficulty in taking impressions from the fingers of a corpse, but it sometimes happens that the skin of the fingers is so contracted and wrinkled that decipherable prints cannot be obtained. In such cases the medical officer holding the post-mortem should be asked to remove the skin from the fingers. The pieces of skin from the ten digits should then be carefully enclosed in separate numbered envelopes and sent to the bureau for examination.

(c) The finger prints of unidentified bodies should invariably be taken under the supervision of an officer not below the rank of a Sub-Inspector. Finger-prints of all digits must be taken, even if it is necessary to remove the skin of the fingers; and the supervising officer will certify by his signature on the search slip that the impressions have been correctly taken in his presence. The supervising officer will further note in the remarks column of the search slip the condition of the body, whether in an advanced stage of decomposition or otherwise.

(d) The transmission of finger impressions of unidentified prisoners does not dispense with the necessity of the local enquiry as to the identity of prisoners ordered in regulations 454 and 458.

(e) In all cases of murder or suspicious death, where an examination of the surroundings discloses, or may possibly subsequently disclose, anything in the shape of finger marks, blurred or otherwise, on any article which might reasonably be expected to have been touched by the victim, the finger prints of the deceased shall invariably be taken for purposes of comparison with the finger impressions found on such article (picked up at the scene of the murder).

Finger impressions of deceased persons shall invariably be taken, as quickly as possible after the arrival of the investigating officer at the spot as owing to decomposition which is rapid in India, delay might render the taking of distinct impressions impossible.
Note. – Duplicate finger-print slip shall be taken and submitted to the finger-print Bureau for search if it is found that for unavoidable reasons and after exercising all possible care the impressions of the subject remain blurred and indistinct.

314. Photographing unidentified corpses. [§ 12, Act V, 1861]. – (a) In addition to taking the finger impressions of unidentified corpses, as laid down in regulation 493, such corpses shall, whenever possible, be photographed with a view to tracing their identity. Such photographs shall, whenever possible, be of half-plate size.
(b) If a competent photographer cannot be arranged for locally, a photographer will be deputed from the Criminal Investigation Department on receipt of a requisition by wire. To save time, such requisitions may be sent from police-station officers direct, but a wise discretion shall be exercised and they shall be sent only when the corpse is identifiable and there is reason to believe that the photographer will arrive before the corpse is unrecognizable owing to.decomposition.

(c) When it is necessary to photograph an unidentified corpse, the whole body should be included in the photo, the corpse being placed in such position that all scars and similar marks of identification are clearly visible. This is especially important in cases where the features are in any way disfigured. Distinguishing marks on the body are much surer means of identification than articles of clothing, and, as they disappear with the corpse, a full and accurate record of them is necessary.

(d) Whenever an unidentified corpse is photographed, particulars of the subject, as far as they are known, shall be clearly written on the back of the photo. [See regulations 638 and 6391.


Appendix XIX

(Regulation 303)

Directions for investigation in cases of suspicious and unnatural deaths

I – General

(i) When it is necessary to send any articles for medical examination, the directions in Appendix XVIII shall be followed.

(ii) Viscera and liquid sustances should be placed in new bottles or any other available new receptacles, and carefully secured and sealed.

(iii) The forwarding report should always give-

(a) date and hour of onset of symptoms;

(b) date and hour of death;

(c) if the body has been exhumed, dates of burial and of exhumation;

(d) statement of symptoms of illness;

(e) note of treatment, if any, by patient’s friends, by police or by a medical man, baidya or hakim.

II – Suspected Poisoning

(i) Bring away under seal any food (specially atta or sweetmeats), drink, tobacco or drug which may be in the house or near the body.

(ii) If vomiting has occurred, swab up with a clean rag any vomited matter which may he found on the person or bed, and seal up the rag in a packet.

(iii) Bring away under seal any clothing, matting, wood or mud flooring into which any vomited matter has soaked.

(iv) Carefully bottle and seal the contents of any vessel containing vomited matter.

(v) Ascertain the exact time between the receipt of food, drink or medicine, the appearance or symptoms and occurrence of death. Also what were the first symptoms ? Did vomiting or purging occur ? Did the person become drowsy or fall asleep? Was there cramp or twitching of the limbs or any tingling in the throat or skin?

III – Suspected Cattle-Poisoning

(i) The carcass should be first carefully examined, especially about the genitals and soft skin of the thighs and neck. If any puncture is found, it is possible that sutari-poisoning has occurred. The spike or sutari should then be sought for; and if one be found, it should be wrapped in paper, and be sealed and labelled.

(ii) The mouth should be examined, and anything found in it should be preserved and labelled.

(iii) The carcass of animals, credibly suspected of having been poisoned, should be sent for examination when any persons are charged or suspected, and such a course is possible and necessary,

IV – Hanging Or Strangulation

(i) If possible, before cutting down the body or removing the strangulating medium, note an}’ lividity of face, especially of lips and eye-lids, any projection of the eyes, the state of the tongue, whether enlarged or protruded or compressed between the lips, the escape of any fluid from mouth and nostrils, and direction of its flow.

(ii) On cutting down the body or removing the strangulating medium, note particularly the state of the neck, whether braised along the line of strangulation.

(iii) Note the direction of the mark, whether circular or oblique.

(iv) Note the state of the thumbs, whether crossed over the palm.

(v) If possible, bring away the materials by which hanging or strangulation,has been effected.

V – Body Found In Tank Or Well

(i) Note any marks of blood around the mouth, or on the sides of well or tank.

(ii) On removing the body, carefully search for and note any external marks or injury, especially above head and neck.

(iii) Note state of skin, whether smooth or rough.

(iv) Examine the hands, and carefully remove anything they may hold.

VI – Body Found Murdered In An Open Field

(i) Note number, character and appearance of any injuries.

(ii) Should a weapon be found, cover with paper and seal any marks of blood, and especially note and preserve any adherent hairs.

(iii) In the case of an exposed infant, note the state of the cord, especially if tied, and any marks of violence.

VII – Presumed Murder And Burial Of Remains

(i) Search for and note any marks of violence especially upon the skull.

(ii) Note carefully any indications of sex. Especially bring away a jaw and the bones of the pelvis.

(iii) If any suspicion of poisoning, bring away (sealed) the earth from where the stomach would have been. Tire ashes and charred bones from the scene of cremation of a person who is suspected to have died from arsenic poisoning should be collected and forwarded for examination. In such cases it is possible to detect arsenic in the remains of the funeral pyre.

(iv) If a body presumed to have been murdered has been burnt, collect and bring in any fragments of hones which may be found among the ashes.

VIII – Rape Or Unnatural Offences

Send in lower garments worn by the persons when assaulted.

IX – Murder Of Women For Gain

In all cases of murder of women for gain, investigating officers shall examine the deceased’s tongue in order to see whether it bears marks of injury. If marks are found, the Civil Surgeon shall be specially asked if they appear to be self-inflicted, and if not, how they might have been inflicted.