1,000 and Rs. 5,000. The other document was a bearer cheque for Rs. 5,000, also signed by Laxmibai but written by the appellant. The appellant presented the first on November 17 after writing the date, November 15, on it and the second on November 20, after writing the date, November 19, and received payment. Prior to this, on November 12, 1956, when Laxmibai was alive and in Poona he had presented to the Bank of Maharashtra a dividend warrant for Rs. 2,607-6-0 to Laxmibai's account writing her signature himself. This was hardly necessary if he was honest. The signature deceived the Bank, and it is obvious that he was a consummate forger even then. Of course, he put the money into Laxmibai's account, but he had to if he was to draw it out again on the strength of these 61 478 two documents. The question is, can we say that he was honest on November 12, 1956? The answer is obvious. His dishonest intentions were, therefore, fully matured even before he left Poona. Thereafter, the appellant converted all the property of Laxmibai to his own use. He removed the movables in her rooms including the pots and pans, furniture, clothes, radio, share scrips and so on, to his own house. He even went to the length of forging her signature on securities, transfer deeds, letters to banks and companies, and even induced a lady magistrate to authenticate the signature of Laxmibai for which he obtained the services of a woman who, to say the least, personated Laxmibai. So clever were the many ruses and so cunning the forgeries that the banks, companies and indeed, all persons were completely deceived. It was only once that the bank had occasion to question the signature of Laxmibai, but the appellant promptly presented another document purporting to be signed by Laxmibai, which the bank accepted with somewhat surprising credulity. The long and short of it is that numerous persons were imposed upon, including those who are normally careful and suspicious, and the appellant by these means collected a sum of no less than Rs. 26,000 which he disposed of in various ways, the chief, among them being the opening of a short term deposit account in the name of his wife and himself and crediting some other amounts to the joint names of his brother, B.C. Lagu, and himself. We do not enter into the details of his many stratagems for two reasons. Firstly because, all this conduct has been admitted before us by his counsel, and next because he has received life imprisonment on charges connected with these frauds.Suffice it to say that if the appellant were to be found guilty of the offence, sufficient motive would be found in his dealings with the property of this unfortunate widow after her death. If murder there was,it was to facilitate the action which he took regarding her property.
If the finding of his guilt be reached, then his subsequent conduct would be a part of a very deepseated plan beginning almost from the time when he 479 began to ingratiate himself into the good opinion of the lady. The fact, however, remains that all this conduct cannot avail the prosecution, unless it proves conclusively some other aspects of the case.
We cannot, however, overlook one or two other circumstances which are part of this conduct. We have already stated briefly that the appellant cause all persons to believe that Laxmibai was alive and living at Rathodi as the happily married wife of one Joshi. Both Joshi and Rathodi were equally fictitious. In this connection, the pleader, the son, the friends and the relations of Laxmibai were receiving for months after her death letters and communications purporting to be signed by her, though written at the instance of the -appellant by persons, who have come and deposed before the Court to this fact. These letters were all posted in R. M. S. vans, and the prosecution has successfully proved that they were not posted in any of the regular post offices in a town or village. These letters show a variety of details and intimacies which made them appear genuine except for the handwriting and the signature of Laxmibai. For a time, people who received them, though suspicious, took them for what they were worth, and it appears that they did not worry very much about the truth. -It has now been successfully proved by the prosecution and admitted -by the appellant's counsel before us that these letters were all sent by the appellant with the sole object of keeping the people in the dark about the fact of death, so that the appellant might have time to deal with the property at leisure. The appellant asserts that he thought of this only after the death of Laxmibai. It seems somewhat surprising that the appellant should have suddenly gone downhill into dishonesty, so to speak, at a bound. The maxim is very old that no one becomes dishonest suddenly; nema fuit repente turpissimus. What inference can be drawn from his conduct after the death of Laxmibai is a matter to be considered by us. And in this connection, we can only say at this stage that if some prior conduct is connected intrinsically, with conduct after death, then the motive of the appellant would be very clear indeed.
480 We now pass on to the evidence of what happened in the hospital and the total medical evidence on the cause of death. This evidence has to be considered from different angles. Much of it relates to the condition of Laxmibai and the treatment given to her; but other parts of it relate to the conduct of the appellant and the information supplied by him. There is also further evidence about the disposal of the body and the enquiries made into the cause of death.
These must be dealt with separately. For the present, we shall confine ourselves to the pure medical aspect of the case of Laxmibai during her short stay in the hospital.
When Laxmibai was admitted in the hospital, Dr. Ugale (P.W.18), the Casualty Medical Officer, was in charge. He made a preliminary examination and recorded his impressions before he sent the patient to Ward No. 12. He obtained from the appellant the history of the attack, and it appears that all that the appellant told him was ” Patient suddenly became unconscious in train while coining from up country.
History of similar attacks frequently before”. It also appears that the appellant told him that the lady was liable to hysterical fits, and that was set down by Dr. Ugale as a provisional diagnosis. So much of Dr. Ugale's evidence regarding the health of Laxmibai as given by the appellant. Now, we take up his own examination. According to Dr.
Ugale, there were involuntary movements of the right hand, which he noticed only once. Only the right hand was moving.
He found corneal reflex absent. Pupils were normal and reacting to light. So far as central nervous system and respiration were concerned, he detected nothing abnormal.
According to him, there was no evidence of a hysterical fit, and he stated that he queried that provisional diagnosis which, according to him, was supplied by the appellant. According to Dr. Ugale, the name of the patient was given as lndumati Paunshe.
The patient was then made over to the care of Dr. Miss Aneeja (P. W. 19). Dr. Miss Aneeja was then a raw Medical Graduate, having passed the M.B.B.S. in June, 1956. She was working as the House Physician, 481 and was in charge of Ward No. 12. She was summoned from her quarters to the Ward at 6-15 a.m. and she examined Laxmibai.
We leave out of account again the conversation bearing upon the conduct of the appellant, which we shall view subsequently. He told her also about the sudden onset of unconsciousness, and that there was a history of similar attacks before. We are concerned next with the result of the examination by Dr. Miss Aneeja, bearing in mind that she was not a very experienced physician. She found pulse 100, temperature 99-5, respiration 20. The skin was found to be smooth and elastic nails, conjunctiva and tongue were pink in colour lymphatic glands were not palpable; and bones and joints had nothing abnormal in them. The pupils of the eyes were equal but dilated, and were not then reacting to light.
She found that up to the abdomen and the sphincter the reflexes were absent. The reflexes at knee and ankle were normal, but the plantar reflex was Babinsky on one foot, and there was slight rigidity of the neck.
It appears that Laxmibai was promptly given a dose of a stimulant and oxygen was started. Dr. Miss. Aneeja also stated that she gave an injection of insulin (40 units) immediately. Much dispute has arisen as to whether Dr. Miss Aneeja examined the urine for sugar, albumin and acetone before starting this treatment. It is clear, however, from her testimony that no blood test was made to determine the level of sugar in the blood. A lumbar puncture was also made by Dr. Miss Aneeja and the cerebro-spinal fluid was sent for chemical analysis. That report is available, and the fluid was normal. According to Dr. Miss Aneeja, the Medical Registrar who, she says, was Dr. Saify, recommended intravenous injection of 40 units of insulin with 20 C.C. of glucose, which were administered. According to her, Laxmibai was also put on glucose intragastric drip.
Dr. Miss Aneeja stated that the urine was examined by her three times, and in the first sample, sugar and acetone were present in quantities. The first examination, according to her, was at 6-30 a.m., the next at 8-30 a.m. and the last at 11 a.m. She stated that she 482 had used Benedict test for sugar and Rothera's test for acetone. In all the examinations, according to her, there was no albumin present. Dr. Miss Aneeja also claims to have phoned to Dr. Variava, the Honorary Physician, at 6-45 or 7 a.m., and consulted him about the case. According to her, Dr. Saify, the Registrar of the Unit, visited the Ward at 830 a.m. and wrote on the case papers that an intravenous injection of 40 units of insulin with 20 C.C. of glucose should be administered. According to her, Dr. Variava visited the Ward at 11 a.m., and examined Laxmibai, but the patient expired at 11-30 a.m. We do not at this stage refer to the instructions for postmortem examination left by Dr.
Variava which were noted on the case papers, because that is a matter with regard to the disposal of the dead body, and we shall deal with the evidence in that behalf separately.
The evidence of Dr. Miss Aneeja shows only this much that she was put in charge of this case, examined urine three times and finding sugar and acetone present, she started a treatment by insulin which was also supplemented by administration of glucose intravenously as well as by intragastric drip. Apart from one dose of stimulant given in the first few minutes, no other treatment beyond administration of oxygen was undertaken. She had also noted the observations of the reflexes and the condition of the patient as they appeared to her on examination.
There is a considerable amount of contradiction between the evidence of Dr, Miss Aneeja and that of Dr. Variava as to whether acetone was found by Dr. Miss Aneeja before Dr.
Variava's visit. According to the learned Judges of the Court below, the first urine examination deposed to by Dr.
Miss Aneeja and said to have been made at 6-30 a.m. was never performed. The other two examinations were made, as the urine chart (Ex. 127) shows. It is, however, a question whether they were confined only to sugar and albumin but did not include examination for acetone. We shall discuss this point after we have dealt with the evidence of Dr. Variava.
483 Dr. Variava (P.W. 21) was the Honorary Physician, and was in charge of this Unit. According to him, he went on his rounds at 11 a.m., and examined Laxmibai from 11 a.m. to 1115 a.m. He questioned Dr. Miss Aneeja about the line of treatment and told her that she could not have made a diagnosis of diabetic coma without examining urine for acetone. Dr. Variava deposed that the entry regarding acetone on the case papers was not made when he saw the papers at 11 a.m. He then asked Dr. Miss Aneeja to take by catheter a sample of the urine and to examine it for acetone.
Dr. Miss Aneeja brought the test-tube with urine in it, which showed a light green colour, and Dr. Variava inferred from it that acetone might be present in traces. According to Dr. Variava, Laxmibai's case was not one of diabetic coma, and he gave two reasons for this diagnosis, namely, that diabetic coma never comes on suddenly, and that there are no convulsions in it, as were described by Dr. Ugale.
Dr. Variava also denied that the phone call to him was made by Dr. Miss Aneeja. Dr. Variava stated that before he left the Ward he told Dr. Miss Aneeja that he was not satisfied that the woman had died of diabetic coma and instructed her that postmortem examination should be asked for.
In connection with the evidence about the examination of the urine, we have to see also the evidence of Marina Laurie, nurse (P.W. 59), who stated how the entries in the urine chart came to be made. It may be pointed out that the urine chart showed only two examinations for sugar, at 8-30 a.m.
and 11 am., and not the one at 6-30 a.m. The entry about that was made on the case papers under the head ” treatment ” by Dr. Miss Aneeja, and it is the last entry I acetone + + ' which Dr. Variava stated was not on the papers at the time he saw them. Indeed, Dr. Variava would not have roundly questioned Dr. Miss Aneeja about the examination for acetone, if this entry had been there, and Dr. Miss Aneeja admits a portion of Dr. Variava's statement when she says that she examined the urine on Dr. Variava's instructions and 484 brought the test-tube to him, in which the urine was of a light green colour.
Now, the urine chart does not show an examination of the urine at 6-30 a.m. According to Dr. Miss Aneeja, she examined the urine, carried the impression of colour in her mind, and noted the result on the case papers. She was questioned why she adopted the unusual course, but stated that it often happened that the urine chart was not prepared and the result was not taken to the case papers. However it be, Dr. Variava is quite positive that the entry about acetone did not exist on the case papers, and an examination of the original shows differences in ink and pen which would not have been there, bad all the three items been written at the same time. It also appears that even at 8-30 a.m. the urine was examined for sugar only because the entry in the urine chart shows brick-red colour which is the resulting colour in Benedict test and not in Rothera's test.
Similarly, at II a.m. the urine chart shows only a test for sugar because the light green colour is not the resulting colour of Rothera's test but also of the Benedict test.
Indeed, Dr. Variava was also shown a test-tube containing the urine of slight greenish colour, and his own inference was that acetone might be present in traces. There is thus nothing to show that Dr. Miss Aneeja embarked upon a treatment for diabetic coma after ascertaining the existence of acetone. All the circumstances point to the other conclusion, namely, that she did not examine the urine for acetone' and that seems to be the cause of the questions put by Dr. Variava to her. We have no hesitation, therefore, in accepting Dr. Variava's evidence on this part of the case, which is supported by the evidence of the course, the urine chart and the interpolation in the case papers.
From all that we have said, it is quite clear that the treatment given to her for diabetic coma was based on insufficient data. There was also no Kussmaul breathing (Root & White, Diabetes Mellitus, p. 118); her breathing was 20 per minute which was normal. Nor was there any sign of dehydration, 485 because the skin was smooth and elastic, and the Babinsky sign was a contra indication of diabetic coma. This is borne out by the diagnosis of Dr. Variava himself, who appears positive that Laxmibai did not suffer from diabetic coma, and is further fortified by the reasons given by Dr.
H. Mehta (P.W. 65), to whose evidence we shall have occasion to refer later.
Two other doctors from the hospital were examined in connection with Laxmibai's stay. The first was Dr. J. C.
Patel, who was then the Medical Registrar of Unit No. 1. It seems that Dr. Saify, the permanent Medical Registrar, was on leave due to the illness of his father, and Dr. J. C.
Patel was looking after his Unit. Dr. J. C. Patel went round with Dr. Variava at 11 a.m., and in his presence, Dr.
Variava examined Laxmibai. He has no contribution to make, because he says he does not remember anything. The only piece of evidence which he has given and which is useful for our enquiry is that in the phone book (Ex. 323) in which all calls are entered, no call to Dr. Variava on the morning of the 13th was shown. The evidence of Dr. J. C. Patel is thus useless, except in this little respect. The other doctor, Dr. Hiralal Shah (P. W. 72) was the Registrar of Unit No.
2. After Laxmibai entered the hospital, Dr. Miss Aneeja sent a call to him, and he signed the call book (Ex. 322). Dr.
Hiralal Shah pretended that he did not remember the case.
He stated that if he was called, he must have gone there, and examined the patient; but he stated in the witness-box that he did not remember anything. All the three doctors, Dr. Miss Aneeja, Dr. Patel and Dr. Hiralal Shah, denied having made the entry ” Insulin 40 units 1. V. with 20 C. C.
glucose.” Dr. Miss Aneeja says that it was written by Dr.
Saify, who, as we shall show presently, was not present in Bombay at all on that day.
We do not propose to deal with the cause of the death, before adverting to the findings of Dr. Jhala (P.W. 66), who performed the autopsy and Dr. H. S. Mehta (P. W. 65), to whom all the case papers of Laxmibai were handed over for expert opinion. Dr. Jhala performed the postmortem operation on November 23, 62 486 and he was helped by his assistants. Though the body was well-preserved and had been kept in the air-conditioned morgue, there is no denying the fact that 10 days had passed between the death and the postmortem examination.
The findings of Dr. Jhala were that the body and the viscera were not decomposed, and that an examination of the vital organs could be made. Dr. Jhala found in the stomach 4 oz.
of a pasty meal and,' oz.of whitish precipitate in the bladder. He did not find any other substance which could be said to have been introduced into the system. He examined the brain and found it congested. There were no marks of injury on the body; the lungs were also congested and in the upper lobe of the left lung there was a tubercular focus which, in his opinion, was not sufficient to cause death ordinarily. He also found Atheroma of aorta and slight sclerosis of the coronary. He stated that the presence of the last meal in the stomach indicated that there was no vomitting. He found no pathological lesion in the pancreas, the kidney, the liver and any other internal organ.
He gave the opinion after the receipt of the Chemical Analyser's report that death could have occurred due to diabetic coma.
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