The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court, in the case titled Fahad & Ors. v. State of UP, through The Principal Secretary, Home Department and Ors., decided on 25.09.2018, has fined the doctor for writing medico-legal reports shabbily and directed Principal Secretary Home, Principal Secretary Medical and Health, Director General of Medical and Health to ensure compliance of a 2012 circular directing doctors to write clear medico-legal reports.

The Circular was issued by the Director-General on November 8, 2012, in the case titled Chhabiraj vs. State of U.P. and others, when the Court was forced to summon Director General, Medical and Health, U.P. Lucknow, directing that:

Medico-legal report shall be written in clear writing which is legible;

Simple words shall be used as far as possible;

Short/Short form/Abbreviation words shall not be used in the Medico-Legal Report;

Signatures, Name and Designation of the doctor who prepared the report shall clearly be mentioned.

The Bench was pained to note how poor handwriting of doctors in medico-legal reports was obstructing the administration of justice and observed that, “The doctors have been scribing medico legal report, injury report, bed head tickets, prescriptions and post-mortem examination reports in such handwriting that it cannot be read by the prosecutor, the defence lawyer or the Court. We are faced with a situation in which when the medico-legal report was summoned, counsel for none of the parties or the Court could read the report on account of the way it was written”.

The Bench further stated that, “By depiction of such injuries, as has been done in this case, neither the prosecution would be enlightened nor the defence, or even the court. The very purpose of having a medico-legal examination report is defeated. Such misleading and confusing injury report would help the accused to take benefit of lacuna in the prosecution case.  This court is pained at recording in every case that the medical report is summoned for reference for effective adjudication, the handwriting of the doctor in the report is not readable.”

The court reiterated that the relevance of the medico-legal report in cases of hurt, homicide or suicide is enormous and made a significant point that, “In a case of incised wound, the injury depicted in the medico-legal report/post-mortem report can clarify whether the knife was sharp on one side or both sides; the size of the blade; the force with which the knife has been thrust in the body and the direction from which the knife has been thrust. Likewise, in blunt injuries, explanation of the injury in the medico-legal report speaks volumes about the manner in which the injury might have been caused. It assists the Court in formulating an opinion in regard to the manner in which an incident might have taken place and what penal provision to invoke.”

It further went on to say that, “The medico-legal report, if given clearly, can either endorse the incident as given by the eyewitnesses or can disprove the incident to a great extent. This is only possible if a detailed and clear medico-legal report is furnished by the doctors, with complete responsibility. The medical reports, however, are written in such shabby handwriting that they are not readable and decipherable by advocates or Judges. It is to be considered that the medico-legal reports and post-mortem reports are prepared to assist the persons involved in dispensation of criminal justice. If such a report is readable by medical practitioners only, it shall not serve the purpose for which it is made. This is despite the fact that computers are available in all medical facilities. In some of the States, practice is being followed where medico-legal reports and post-mortem reports are made on computers/printers”.

Noting that the conduct of the doctor, Dr. Ashish Saxena, in violating the 2012 Circular cannot be ignored, it imposed a cost of Rs 5,000/- on him to be deducted from his salary and deposited in Library Fund of Oudh Bar Association of the Court.

Surabhi Aggarwal

Senior Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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