Merely Because FIR Contains The Inquest Number It Cannot Be Said That FIR Was Registered After Inquest: SC
"Merely because the FIR contains inquest number, it cannot be said that the FIR was registered subsequent to the inquest."
The Supreme Court has observed that merely because Inquest number is mentioned in First Information Report, it does not affect the prosecution case nor does it affect the credibility of the eye witnesses.
In a criminal appeal (Harnam Singh vs. State of MP), the bench comprising Justice R. Banumathi and Justice R. Subhash Reddy was addressing the contention put forth on behalf of the accused that the FIR contained the Inquest number whereas the number of FIR has not been mentioned in the Inquest Report. It was contended before the bench that, the very mention of Inquest Number in the FIR and non-mentioning of FIR Number in the Inquest Report raises serious doubt about the time and the manner of occurrence as alleged by the prosecution.
The bench observed that merely because the FIR contains inquest number, it cannot be said that the FIR was registered subsequent to the inquest. The bench referred to the judgment in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Ram Kumar, in this regard. In the said judgment, the apex court had observed that "the mere fact that on the inquest report FIR No. was written by different ink cannot be the basis for observing that the FIR was ante-timed or ante-dated".
Taking note of the facts of the case, the bench said: "On being questioned, Investigating Officer S.D. Khan (PW-14) has stated that he has registered the Inquest Report 10/98 with regard to the death of deceased Mohan under Section 174 Cr.P.C. As seen from the evidence of PW-2, after the occurrence, dead body of Mohan was lying twenty yards away from the road and he went to the police station to lodge the complaint via Lallu fourway and Sarvodya fourway. The inquest being done at the spot and FIR being registered at the Police Station under Sections 302, 506B, 341, 294, 323, 34 IPC and Section 3(2)(V) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, mention of inquest number in the FIR does not affect the prosecution case nor does it affect the credibility of the eyewitnesses"
The bench also observed that the oral evidence has to get primacy since medical evidence is basically opinionative. "The evidence of eyewitnesses are the eyes and ears of justice. The consistent version of PWs 2, 3 and 13 cannot be decided on the touchstone of medical evidence," it said. The court also observed that, when the case of the prosecution is based on the eye-witnesses, the indecisive opinion given by the experts would not affect the prosecution case.
The bench then affirmed the conviction of Harnam Singh under Sections 302 IPC, 341 IPC and Section 25(1A) read with Section 27 of the Arms Act and also the sentence of life imprisonment imposed upon him.