The forensic medicine experts working in medical colleges under Punjab Government have urged the state Health and Family Welfare Department to give clarification about its order sent to all civil surgeons in the state that in cases of alleged murder or suicide cases, the postmortem should be conducted by specialized forensic teams at the district / state level hospitals as directed by National Commission for Women which had taken cognizance of the media reports regarding alleged dowry death of a female in the month of April this year at Samana in Patiala district.
According to Dr DS Bhullar, President of Punjab Academy of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology (PAFMAT) which is a state body of forensic medicine and medico legal experts, this order by state health directorate is being wrongly interpreted by forensic experts as well as medical officers dealing with postmortem examination of murder and suicidal cases in government hospitals throughout the state and some medical officers have even started referring such cases to forensic experts in medical colleges.
The order had been passed by the National Commission for Women because of a controversy in a case of dowry death with burns wherein a board of forensic medicine experts had declared the burns as postmortem (after death) after re-examination of the case whereas the first team of doctors had opined on the cause of death as antemortem (before death) burns shock and asphyxia, and this order needs to be rectified immediately by the Directorate of Health Services Punjab otherwise in the absence of forensic medicine experts in most of the district civil hospitals, the doctors working there will start refereeing all cases of homicidal and suicidal cases to medical colleges for examination by forensic experts. It will not only lead to flooding of the mortuaries in medical colleges and a chaos but will also result in big public harassment including relatives and police for brining dead bodies from far off places to medical colleges, thus resulting in long delays in postmortem and cremation of the dead bodies along with quality of work being compromised.
The Academy (PAFMAT) has been demanding from years to create posts of forensic medicine experts in district level hospitals in Punjab with posting of forensic medicine specialists who can properly and technically handle all the medico legal cases including postmortem of unnatural deaths in the interest of justice and the time has come to act by the state government, said another senior forensic expert of the academy.
According to Dr KK Aggarwal, Professor and Head Department of Forensic Medicine in Government Medical College Patiala, “before issuing such order the concerned authorities should have ensured whether Forensic Experts are posted in each district hospital in the state. Medical colleges are already conducting enough number (3 to 6) postmortem cases daily that too without proper paramedical staff and cold chambers and hence the orders need to be rectified immediately”.
We have sent a request to Minister of Health and Medical Education Braham Mohindra for an urgent meeting to discuss the whole issue in public interest to sort out the issue and for clarification by the state government, said Bhullar.