HC issues guidelines for conducting post mortem

Court asks State to appoint Scientific Officers at govt. medical college hospitals

Passing a series of directions with respect to conduct of post mortems and issue of certificates, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled that doctors should follow Article 621 of the Tamil Nadu Medical Code, by sending the post mortem certificate, as soon as it is over, to the judicial magistrate concerned.

A copy of the certificate should be sent to the head of the department on the same day, failing which departmental proceedings should be initiated against them, the court said, and directed the Health Secretary to issue a circular directing the doctors to strictly follow Article 621 of the Tamil Nadu Medical Code.

The court directed the State government to appoint Scientific Officers at all Government Medical College Hospitals for providing assistance. Biometric attendance for staff should be followed in hospitals. A web-based medico legal examination and post mortem reports system should be followed at all hospitals from January 1, 2021, the court said.

The court was hearing the public interest litigation petition filed by advocate R.M. Arun Swaminathan, who complained of lacuna in the procedures followed in conducting post mortem at government hospitals. There was no transparency and the procedure prescribed under the Tamil Nadu Medical Code was not followed, he said.

A Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and S.S. Sundar took cognisance of the fact that there were several irregularities in the conduct of post mortem, and sometimes even unauthorised people were conducting them. Also, the preparation of the certificate was not in the format prescribed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The court said there was a failure on the part of doctors and forensic experts to send the post mortem certificates immediately to the Judicial Magistrate and to the head of the department.

Besides, these post mortem reports were handwritten and not legible. Unless they were legibly written, it would not be possible for non-medical people to understand the writings of the doctors and forensic experts. The certificates had to be read and understood for conducting investigation and deciding cases, the judges said.

The court said the NHRC format should be followed in issuing post mortem certificates. The post mortems should be videographed whenever requests were made by the families or the friends of the deceased, the court said.

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