The 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.
Lucknow: Sickened by the illegible contents on a medico-legal reports, the Allahabad High Court recently imposed a fine of Rs 5000 on three medical practitioners, the writers of such reports in different cases, holding them liable for creating hindrance in judicial work
The court also pulled up the Principal Secretary, Home, U.P., Principal Secretary Medical and Health Services U.P. Lucknow and Director General Medical and Health Services U.P. Lucknow asking them to ensure compliance of 2012 circular that directs doctors to make clear and comprehensive medico-legal reports.
“The medico legal report, if given clearly, can either endorse the incident as given by the eye witnesses 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.”
The observations came in the light of three cases came when the court received an injury report which was not readable because of the bad handwriting issued from doctors from Sitapur, Unnao and Gonda district hospitals. A bench of Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Sanjay Harkauli were appointed to deal with the case. The three doctors were identified as Dr T P Jaiswal of Unnao, Dr PK Goel of Sitapur and Dr Ashish Saxena of Gonda were summoned by the court bench for creating hindrance in the judicial work because of the bad handwriting. Thereafter, it reprimanded the doctors directing them to deposit fine of Rupees 5,000.
In one such case, where Dr Ashish Saxena was summoned to the court especially to explain the medico-legal report, the court questioned the doctor on the contents of the report pertaining to the injury of the victim, but the doctor could provide explanations.
“We find the knowledge of the Doctor to be deficient. Doctor Ashish Saxena does not appear to be capable of dealing with medico legal cases. 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 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,” The court observed
The court further directed medico reports to be in easy language and readable handwriting. The court moved on with its suggestion for reports to be preferably computer typed than handwritten.
By virtue of this order we again reiterate that the relevance of medico legal report in cases of hurt, homicide or suicide is enormous. 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
The court referred to a decision back in November 2012 when a circular was issued by the UP director general medical and health which specified doctors to issue medico-legal reports in readable form on which doctors pleaded for writing a legible prescription as they were overburdened. The order clearly mentions
1- Medico Legal Report shall be written in clear writing which is legible.
2- Simple words shall be used in the Medico Legal Report as possible.
3- Short/Short form/Abbreviation words shall not be used in the Medico Legal Report.
4- Signatures, Name and Designation of the Doctor shall clearly be mentioned who has prepared the Medico Legal Report.