Medico-Legal cases are the most important part of both the professions: Law and the Medical Science. Therefore, the doctors, lawyers, police personnel and the judges with the fast changing practices have to upgrade their knowledge through mutual interactions.
Such interactions are more significant to address the faultlines and some common lacunae in dealing with sexual assualt against women and children, as a single incorrect line recorded by a doctor in his report can lead to the acquittal of the real culprit and may send the innocent to jail.
To facilitate this upgradation, the High Court of Delhi, has taken an initiative by forming a “Committee to monitor the proper implementation of several guidelines to laid down by Hon’ble Supreme Court as well as Hon’ble High Court for dealing with matters pertaining to sexual offences and child witnesses”. The Committee is headed by Hon’ble Justice Gita Mittal, the Acting Chief Justice. Hon’ble Justice Anu Malhotra is the other member of the Committee. The Committee has continuously been monitoring trials of cases relating to sexual offences so as to ensure implementation of guidelines laid down by Supreme Court and this court in this regard.
The Committee had previously conceived an extensive training programme titled, “Making court room practice responsive towards victims of sexual offence” for sensitisation and enhancement of legal skills for all stakeholders including the judges, police personnel, legal-aid lawyers and prosecutors. The Committee has now conceived another training module to ensure purity of medical evidence and collection of the best evidences in such cases. The module is titled as “conduct of medical examination and recording of MLCs, death summaries and post-mortem in cases involving sexual offences.”
Four such training programmes have already brrn conducted and the fifth one was held on August 27, 2017, in the premises of the High Court of Delhi, which was attended by 24 doctors from forensic medicine, obstetrics & gynaecology, paediatric surgery and psychiatry departments from various hospitals of Delhi government. These doctors were the administrators of the hospitals, who are serving in administrative positions such as medical superitendents, directors and head of the departments, etc.
Mr. Dinesh Kumar Sharma, registrar general of High Court said that objectives of the programme are to bring about an interface between medical and legal experts; to highlight the importance of collection of medical evidence; to highlight errors in recording MLCs, autopsy reports, death summaries and case sheets; to sensitise doctors for those circumstances disclosed by victims about the manner in which they suffered injuries should br recorded in MLCs and thst such statements are admissible as evidence where the injuries proved fatal; to address issues of lack of sensitivity in conducting medical examinations; to address lack of knowledge amongst doctors about statutory provisions regarding medical and scientific investigations in cases of sexual offences, as the doctors are not trained in the nuances of law or its mandatory requirements.
Talking to Lawyers Update, Dr. Kirti Bhushan, director general of health services, Delhi Government said that for an older generation of doctors, practices such as ‘twofinger test’ in cases of rape survivors were common, but now with new laws such as POCSO and amendments to Juvenile Justice Act and Indian Penal Code, these doctors have to be sensitised and these new laws have to be harmonised with medical practices.
Another participant, Dr. Jagadeesh Narayana Reddy, a professor of medicine and also a law expert from Bangalore, acted as the coordinator between judiciary and the panel of doctors said, “Our broader focus is on all aspects of violence related to women and children.”