Anant Chintaman Lagu V. The State Of Bombay (2)


Sanatorium, and stayed there till November 15, 1950. Her condition is noted in two certificates which were issued by the Sanatorium -and proved by Dr. Fletcher (P. W. 16), the Medical Superintendent. In describing the previous history of the patient, the case papers showed that she had a history of Pott's disease (T. B. of the spine) 20 years before. She had diabetes for five years and history of hysterectomy operation two years before. It was also noted that she had 469 T. B. of the lungs 15 years back, but had kept well for 14 years and a new attack began in or about 1949. The certificate describes the treatment given to her in these words:

” Patient was admitted on 13th July, 1950. X-Ray on admission showed extensive filtration on the left side with a large cavity in the upper zone; the right side was within normal limits. She had diabetes with high blood sugar which was controlled by insulin. Two stages of thoracoplasty operations on the left side were done and there was good clearing of disease but there was a small residual cavity seen and the third stage operation was advised. The patient is leaving at her own request against medical advice. Her sputum is positive. ” From the above, it appears that Laxmibai's general complaints were menstrual irregularities corrected by hysterectomy, tuberculosis of the lungs controlled to a large extent by thoracoplasty and medicines and diabetes for which she was receiving treatment. In the later case papers, there is no mention of hysterical fits, and it seems that she had overcome that trouble after the performance of hysterectomy and the cysticpuncture of the ovary, for there is no evidence of a recurrence after 1948. Diabetes was, however, present, and must have continued till her death.

Next, we come to the evidence of some witnesses who saw her immediately prior to her departure for Bombay on November 12, 1956. The first witness in this connection is Ramachandra (P.W. 1), son of Laxmibai. He has given approximately the same description of her many ailments and the treatment she underwent. He last saw her in June, 1956, when his marriage was performed. According to him, the general condition of his mother was rather weak, but before that, her condition had not occasioned him any concern and he had not noticed anything so radically wrong with her as to prompt him to ask her about her ailments. When he last saw his mother in June 1956, lie found her in good health.

Dr. Madhav Domadhar Bhave (P.W. 9), who knew Laxmibai 470 intimately stated that he saw her last in the month of October, 1956, and that the condition of her health was good. No question was asked from him in cross examination at all. His brother, G. D. Bhave, (P.W. 8), who is a landlord, had gone to Laxmibai's house on November 8, 1956, and met her in the presence of the appellant. Laxmibai had then told him that she was going to Bombay with the appellant to consult Dr. Sathe in connection with her health. She had also stated that she would be returning in four or five days. According to the witness, she was in good health, and was moving about and doing her own work. The next witness is Champutai Vinayak Gokhale (P.W. II), who met Laxmibai on November 10 or 11, 1956. Champutai is a well-educated lady.

She is a B.Sc. of the Bombay University and an M.A. of Columbia (U.S.A.) University. She said that she had gone to Laxmibai's house to invite her for the birthday party of her son, which was to take place on November 13, 1956. She found Laxmibai in good state of health, and Laxmibai promised that though she would be going to Bombay, she would return soon enough to join the party.

Similarly, Viswanath Janardhan Karandikar, pleader of Poona, met Laxmibai on November 10 or,11 , 1956. Laxmibai had herself gone in the afternoon to him to ask him whether her presence was necessary in Poona in connection with the suit filed by Vishnu, to which we have referred earlier. The witness stated that Laxmibai was in good state of health 'at that time, and that he informed her that he did not propose to examine her as a witness. She was again seen by Dattatreya Vishnu Virkar (P.W. 6) on the night of November 12, 1956, an hour before she left her house for Bombay.

Virkar, who is a Graduate in Electrical Mechanics and in Government service, was a tenant living in the same house.

Laxmibai, according to the will of her husband, was entitled to Rs. 50 out of the rents from tenants. She went to Virkar's Block at 8 p.m. and told him that she was going to Bombay to consult a doctor in the company of the appellant and needed money. Virkar gave her Rs. 50 and 471 Laxmibai went back to her Block saying that she would give a receipt. Later, she brought the receipt to Virkar seated at his meals, asked him not to get UP and left the receipt in his room. The receipt signed by Laxmibai is Ex. 70, and is dated November 12, 1956. Shantabai (P.W. 14), a servant of Laxmibai, was deaf and dumb, and her evidence was interpreted with the help of Martand Ramachandra Jamdar (P.W. 13), the Principal of a Deaf and Mute School. It appears that Shantabai had studied Marathi, and was able to answer questions written on a piece of paper, replies to which questions she wrote in her own hand. Some of the questions were not properly answered by Shantabai, but she stated by pantomime that on the day on which she left, the appellant had given two injections to Laxmibai. The learned Sessions Judge made a note to the following effect:

In the morning the accused gave Laxmibai one injection and in the evening he gave the second one. (The signs were so clear that I myself gathered the meaning and the interpreter was not asked to interpret the signs). ” Next, Laxmibai was seen by Pramilabai Sapre (P.W. 12) at 8 p.m. on November 12,1956. Laxmibai had told the witness that she was going to Bombay to consult a doctor and Laxmibai again' passed her door at 9-15 p.m., when the witness was at her meals. Though Laxmibai told her not to disturb herself, the witness did get up and saw her. The witness stated that Laxmibai did not suffer from T. B. after the ,operation but was suffering from diabetes, and that she sometimes used to give Laxmibai her injections of insulin but only till 1953. The last witness on the state of Laxmibai's health is K. L. Patil (P. W. 60), who saw Laxmibai immediately before her departure for the station.

He saw her standing at the Par in front of her house with a small bag and a small bedding. He then saw the appellant arriving there, and Laxmibai presumably left in a rickshaw or a tonga, because there was a stand for these vehicles in the neighbourhood. All this evidence was not questioned except to point out-that Dr. Datar in his petition to the Chief Minister had stated that Laxmibai was a 472 frank case of tuberculosis of both lungs and an invalid(Ex.

68). But Dr. Datar explained that he had so stated there, because it was being ” circulated ” that she had gone on a long pilgrimage alone, and that it was most improbable.

Indeed, Dr. Datar said that Laxmibai was well enough to do all her work and even cooked for herself.

From this mass of evidence given by persons from different walks of life and most of them well-placed, it is clear enough that Laxmibai was not in such a state of health that she would have collapsed in the train, unless something very unusual took place. She was not in the moribund state in which she undoubtedly was, when she reached the hospital.

Her general health, though not exactly good, had not deteriorated so radically as to prevent her from attending to her normal avocations. She appeared to have been quite busy prior to her departure arranging for this matter and that, and she did not rely upon other persons' help but personally attended to all that she desired. Right up to 915 or so in the night, she was sufficiently strong and healthy to go about her affairs, and indeed, she must have boarded the train also in a fit state of health, because there is nothing to show that she was carried to the compartment in a state of collapse or unconsciousness.

We have stated earlier that the appellant who was presumably treating her for her ailments had maintained case papers to show what treatment he was giving her from time to time. These case, papers are Ex.' 305, and commence on February 27, 1956. The medicines that have been shown as prescribed in these case papers show treatment for diabetes, general debility, tuberculosis, rheumatism and indigestion.

Much reliance cannot, however, be placed upon this document, because these case papers significantly enough stop on November 12,-1956, and continue again from February 13, 1957, when Laxmibai was no more. There are four entries of treatment given to Laxmibai between February 13 and February 28, 1957, when Laxmibai had already died and her body had undergone postmortem examination and been cremated.

473 The extent to which her treatment, if any, went in the period covered by the case papers may or may not be truly described by the appellant in these papers, but we are definitely of the opinion that the entries there cannot be read without suspicion, in view of the extraordinary fact described by us here. It appears, however, that the last insulin injection was given to her on September 27, 1956, though the appellant stated in his examination as accused in the case that she was put on Nadisan tablets for diabetes.

The appellant was questioned by the Sessions Judge as to the State of her health, and he stated that Laxmibai on the day she left for Bombay had a temperature of 100 degrees and was suffering from laryngitis, pharyngitis, and complained of pain in the ear. What relevance this has, we shall point out subsequently when we deal with the medical evidence and the conclusions of the doctors about it.

The next question which falls for consideration is whether the appellant and Laxmibai travelled in the same compartment on the train. The train left Poona at 10 p.m., and it is obvious enough that it was a comparatively slow and inconvenient train. We have no evidence in the case as to whether the appellant travelled with Laxmibai in the same compartment, but both the Courts below have found from the probabilities of the case that he did. The best person to tell us about this journey is necessarily the appellant, and reference may now be made to what he stated in regard to this journey. The appellant had arranged for the examination of Laxmibai by Dr. Sathe at Bombay. He was the family physician and also a friend. Laxmibai was an elderly lady and the appellant was for some time previous to this journey living in the main room of her block. There would be nothing to prevent the appellant from travelling in the same compartment with his patient, who might need his attention during the journey. The appellant denied in Court that he had travelled in the same compartment, but his statements on this part of the events have not been quite consistent. After Laxmibai died and the question arose about the disposal of her body, the police at 474 Poona were asked to contact the appellant to get some information about her. On November 16, 1956, before any investigation into ail offence of any kind was started, the appellant was questioned by the police, and he gave a written statement in Ex. 365. He stated there as follows:

“I, Anant Chintaman Lagu, occupation Medical practitioner, age 40 years, residing at H. No. 431/5, Shukrawar and dispensary at H. No. 20, Shukrawar Peth, Poona 2, on being questioned, state that on the night of 12th November, 1956, 1 left Poona for Bombay by the train which leaves Poona at 10 p.m. I reached Victoria Terminus at 5-15 a.m. on 13th November, 1956. In my compartment I bad a talk with a woman as also with other passengers. On getting accomodation in the train almost all of us began to doze and at about 12 p.m. we slept. As Byculla came, -we started preparations for getting down. At that time one woman was found fast asleep. From other passengers I came to know that her name was Indumati Panse, about 36 years old and she had a brother serving in Calcutta. Other passengers got down at V. T. The woman, however, did not awake. 1, therefore, looked at her keenly and found that she was senseless. Being myself a doctor, I thought it my duty to take her to the hospital.

I, therefore, took her to the G.T. Hospital in a taxi. I know that that hospital was near. As I had taken the said woman to the hospital, the C.M.O. took my address. I have no more information about the woman. She is not my relation and I am not in any way responsible for her.” It will appear from this that he was travelling in the same compartment as Laxmibai, though for reason's of his own he did not care to admit that he was taking her to Bombay.

Similarly, in the hospital when he was questioned about the patient he had brought for admission, he stated to Dr. Ugale (P. W. 18), Casualty Medical Officer, that the lady had suddenly become unconscious in the train. This fact was noted by Dr. Ugale in the bed-head ticket, and Dr. Ugale has stated on oath that the information was supplied by 475 the appellant himself. To Dr. Miss Aneeja, who was the House Physician on the morning of November 13, the appellant also stated the same thing. Dr. Miss Aneeja had also made a separate note of this, and stated that the information was given by the appellant. In view of these statements 'made by the appellant at a time when he was not required to face a charge, we think that his present statement in Court that he travelled in a separate compartment cannot be accepted.

The train halted at various stations en route, and evidence was led in the case, of the Guard, K. Shamanna (P. W. 37), who deposed from his memo book (Ex. 214). This train made 26 halts en route before it arrived at V. T. Station. Some of these halts were of as many as 20 minutes. It is difficult to think that the appellant would not have known till he arrived at Victoria Terminus that his patient was unconscious, and the fact that he mentioned that she became suddenly unconscious shows that be knew the exact manner of the onset. Without, however; speculating as to what had actually happened, it is quite clear to us that Laxmibai was in the same compartment as the appellant, a fact which was not denied by the learned counsel in the arguments before us. If we were to accept what the appellant stated as true, then Laxmibai lost her consciousness suddenly. It is, however, a little difficult to accept as true all that the appellant stated in this behalf, because be told a patent lie to the police when he was questioned, that he knew nothing about the woman or Who she was, but took her to the hospital as an act of humanity when he found her unconscious. There is nothing to show beyond this statement to the police in Ex. 365 that there were other passengers in the compartment; but if there had been, the attention of these passengers would have been drawn to the condition of Laxmibai, and some' one would have advised the calling of the Guard or the railway authorities at one of these stations at which the train halted. The circumstances of the case, therefore, point to the appellant and Laxmibai being in the compartment together, and the preponderance of 476 probabilities is that the compartment was not occupied by any other person.

We shall leave out from consideration for the present the circumstances under which Laxmibai was admitted in the G. T. Hospital and the treatment given to her. We shall now pass on to her death and what happened thereafter and the connection of the appellant with the circumstances resulting in the disposal of the dead body. We have already stated that the appellant was present in the hospital till her death. We next hear of the appellant at Poona. On the afternoon of November 13, 1956, Dr' Mouskar (P. W. 40), the Resident Medical Officer of the Hospital, sent a telegram (Ex. 224) to the appellant, and it conveyed to him the following information:

” Indumati expired. Arrange removal reply immediately.” The telegram was sent at about 2 p.m. The appellant in reply did not send a telegram, but wrote an inland letter in which he stated that the name of the woman admitted by him in the hospital had been wrongly shown as “Paunshe”, and that there was an extra “u” in it. He also stated that he had informed her brother at Calcutta about the death, and that the brother would call at the hospital for the body of his sister. The name of the brother was shown as Govind Vaman Deshpande. The letter also stated that the appellant was writing in connection with the woman aged 30 to 35 years admitted in the hospital at 6 a.m. on November 13, 1955, and who had expired the same day at 11 a.m. The name of the brother in this letter is fictitious, because Laxmibai bad no brother, much less a brother in Calcutta and of this name. Thereafter, the appellant took no further action in the matter till the police questioned him on the 16th, two days after he had sent the letter. It seems that the appellant did not expect the police to appear so soon, and he thought it advisable to deny all knowledge about the lady he had taken to the hospital by telling the police that he did not know her. The inference drawn from these two pieces of conduct by the Courts below is against the appellant, and we also agree. We have already stated that from then onwards, the 477 appellant did not care to enquire from the hospital authorities as to what had happened to his patient's dead body, and whether it had been disposed Of or not. He also did not go to Bombay, nor did he inform Dr. Sathe about the cancellation of the appointment. In his examination, he, however, stated that he attempted to telephone to Dr. Sathe, but could not get through, as the instrument was engaged on each occasion. One expects, however, that he would have in the ordinary course written a letter of apology to Dr.

Sathe, because he must have been conscious of the fact that he had kept the Specialist waiting for this appointment; but he did not. It is said that the appellant need not have taken this appointment and could have told a lie to Laxmibai; but the appointment with Dr. Sathe had to be real because if the plan failed, Laxmibai would have been most surprised why she was brought to Bombay. With this ends the phase of events resulting in the death of Laxmibai. We shall deal with the events in the hospital later, but we pursue the thread of the appellant's conduct.

Prior to the fateful journey, Laxmibai had passed two documents to the appellant. They are Exs. 285 and 286. By the first, Laxmibai intimated the Bank of Maharashtra, Poona, that she was going to withdraw in the following week from her Savings Bank account a sum of money between Rs.

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