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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

CHAPTER H

PERSONAL IDENTITY

Definition.—By identity is meant the determination of the individuality
of a person.

The question of the identification of a living person is raised in criminal
courts in connection with absconding soldiers and criminals, or persons
accused of assault, rape, murder, etc. It is also frequently raised in civil
courts owing to fraudulent personation practised by people to secure unlaw-
ful possession of property or to obtain the prolongation of a lapsed pension.

The examination of a person for the purpose of identification should not
be undertaken without obtaining his £ree_£onsent? and at the same time it
should be explained to him that the factsTioteHTlSSght go in evidence Against
him. It should be remembered that consent given before the police is of no
account, and that the law does not oblige anyone to submit to examination
against his will and thusjrurnish evidence against himself.

The identification of a dead body is required in cases of fires, explosions,
railway accidents, foul play, etc.

In India, the identification of a dead body sometimes becomes very
difficult owing to its rapid decomposition in the hot season, or through
damage caused by wild animals when exposed on the outskirts of a village.
However, it is very essential that a dead body should be thoroughly identified
and the proof of corpus delicti established before a sentence is passed in
-murder trials, as unclaimed, decomposed bodies or portions of a dead body
or even bones are sometimes brought forward to support false charges, and
in a country like India it is not difficult to obtain such bodies, since villagers
are in the habit of cremating bodies very partially, or throwing them into
shallow streams, rivulets or canals, or burying them in shallow graves
whence carrion feeders may dig them out.

In a case of murder, where the body of the deceased was not traced, the learned
Judges Stuart and Sulaiman J" J. of the Allahabad High Court were of opinion that where
a man was brutally attacked with lathis (clubs) by several persons and after being beaten
into ttnconsciottsness was removed by the assailants and was never again seen alive,
it is not possible to hold that the man is dead, and, therefore, the assailants could not be
held guilty of murder.—Bandhu v. Emperor, 25 Crimin. Law Jour., 1924, p. 300.

Ram Adhar was convicted of an offence of murder and sentenced to transportation
for life by Mr. Asghar Hasan, Additional Sessions Judge of Gonda, with the following
remarks: —

"As to the question of sentence the body not having been found in an identifiable
condition the mere possibility, though not even the remotest improbability, remains of
Ram Narain turning up alive. It would be imprudent on this ground to pass an irre-
vocable sentence/*

During the trial evidence was led in that the accused killed the deceased with an
axe. Bones of a dead body were recovered from a tank aiad a dhoti (loin cloth) found,
nearby was identified to be that of the deceased. In an appeal in the Chief Court of
Oudh Their Lordships held that the identification of the bones by means of an* ordinary
dhoti was far from certain and discarded all the evidence of the eye-witnesses aad tthe
motive for the murder. As to the portion of the Sessions Judge's judgment tha& the
deceased might possibly return alive and that he shrank from passing the death senteBsee
Their Lordships said that it was necessary to prove first that a certain person, was
murdered and, secondly, that the accused person committed the murder. Wten fesi of
these essential ingredients was missing, Their Lordships were of opinion that
tion could result. In the result Their Lordships allowed the appeal, set aside i
tion and sentence and directed the acquittal of the accused.—Leader, Feb. 2, :

Cases have, however, occurred where the death sentence
even when the body was not forthcoming or was not identified.
Stuart, Kt, Chief Judge, and Mr. Justice Raza of the Chief
state in their judgment that where an offence of inurcler Is