Exhume a Dead Body
There are reports that Jayalalitha's body maybe exhumed. Does the Court have the power to do so? On what grounds can the Court exhume the body and is there a procedure for it ?
As per Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Police can investigate a suspicious death. The Police upon investigation under Section 174 can request a Magistrate to inquire on the cuase of such a suspicious death. The process of exhuming a dead body has been undertaken in India under this provision as was seen in the case of In Re: Laxminarayan Timmanna v. Unknown ((1928) 30 BOMLR 1050). The Magistrate as per Section 176 of CrPC can order to exhume the dead body. Generally, magistrates constitute a board to supervise the exhumations and conduct postmortem examination of remains. There are no guidelines in place to determine the criteria on which the exhumation will be ordered but it is employed to the individuality for any criminal or civil purpose arising after the burial or to establish the cause of death. (Knight BP. Exhumation. In: Knight’s Forensic Pathology 3rd edition, London: Arnold Company Ltd; 2004. p. 37.). The Delhi High Court in its guidelines on POST- MORTEM EXAMINATIONS has provided that the Magistrate while ordering the Exhumation may consider the opinion of the Medical Officer (Available at < http://delhihighcourt.nic.in/writereaddata/upload/CourtRules/CourtRuleFile_WAP7CR9Z.PDF> )
The Law Commission has proposed the introduction of the The Coroners Bill in 2008 (Available at < http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/report206.pdf > ) that a Coroner maybe be given the power to exhume a dead body with a warrant in the situation where the cause of the death requires more investigation. This Bill has not yet been implemented and therefore only a First Class Magistrate can order to exhume a dead body.
Researched by - Saumya Kumar, Lawfarm
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