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Medical Examination and its Relevance with Criminal Justice System

The introduction of new techniques in the criminal justice system has made the medical examination, if necessary, an integral component of the investigation. The idea of a medical examination has changed throughout the world in light of how crucial it is to gather evidence after an accused person or victim has been examined.

Evidence is always needed in criminal trials to back up the claims made by both the complainant and the respondent. Eyewitness testimony and circumstantial evidence are both forms of evidence. A solid defence starts with a thorough medical examination of the accused and, in cases of sexual assault, the victim.

In a criminal case, the victim serves as the prosecution's witness as well as the complainant. The victim's medical examination and the witness's testimony both have significant evidentiary value. However, neither the IPC (Indian Penal Code) nor the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) have a clear definition of this.

In India, the medical examination of those responsible for the crime is done in a victim-friendly manner. The relevant authorities involved in the process are legally required to uphold the law. In any case, the victim's right to privacy is upheld. The Supreme Court has emphasized numerous times in its rulings the importance of upholding a citizen's basic constitutional rights while conducting a medical examination.

Need For medical examination

The medical examination is carried out to learn the precise details of the incident that involved the victim. It gives the police officers a significant piece of evidence that aids in hastening the investigation. The results of the medical examination support the factual findings. It facilitates quickly coming to a decision. In nations where the qualifications of the individuals involved in the process are up to par, it has improved the abilities of investigations. It results in corroboration, which allows the cases to be resolved quickly.

Procedure for Medical Examination

The process of the accused's medical examination is outlined in Section 53 of the CrPC. Whenever the accused has committed an act or is alleged to have committed an act, the police may request that a registered medical practitioner examine the accused if they have reason to believe that the examination will help them obtain proof of the commission of the crime.

The police officer commanding the doctor should be a sub-inspector or a police officer of higher rank. The accused can be examined if she is a female under the direction of a female medical professional.

The following steps are outlined in Section 53A of the Criminal Procedure Code when examining rape suspects:

When someone is charged with rape or the attempted commission of rape and there is good reason to believe that the accused's examination will reveal evidence of the commission of the crime, it is legal for the registered medical examiner to If a government hospital employee or other local authority is not present, then within If a police officer with the rank of sub-inspector or higher requests it, any registered doctor within a 16 km radius of the crime's scene may conduct the examination.
  • The licensed medical professional must conduct the examination without delay and must include the following details in the report of the patient:
    1. The accused's name, identity, and the name of the person who brought him to court;
    2. The accused's age;
    3. Any signs of injury;
    4. A description of the material taken from the accused for DNA profiling; and
    5. Any other information in particular.
The report must include the start and end dates of the project.

The licensed medical the report must explain in detail how each conclusion was reached. Professional must send the report right away.

In accordance with Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the registered medical practitioner must send the report to the police officer as soon as possible. Then report will be send to the magistrate for their permission by Police officer.

Medical Examination Procedure of a Rape Victim

The process of examining rape victims is outlined in Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code:

  1. When it is suggested that the victim undergo a medical examination with a government registered physician or other local authority during the investigation stage of a rape or attempted rape; if neither is present, then with any registered physician with the woman's consent or the consent of the person authorized to act on her behalf. Within 24 hours of learning that the offense was committed, the woman needs to be taken to the doctor for a check-up.
  2. The licensed medical professional must promptly prepare the report with the following details:
    1. The victim's name, address, and who brought them.
    2. How old the victim was.
    3. A description of the samples used to create the DNA profile of the subject.
    4. The woman's general mental state,
    5. Additional information that is detailed as well,
  3. The report must precisely explain how each conclusion came to be,
  4. The report must specifically mention the woman's consent or the competent person's consent on her behalf.
  5. The report must include the precise time and beginning of the examination.
  6. In accordance with Section 173, the registered medical practitioner must immediately send the report to the investigating officer, who must then send it to the magistrate.
  7. Nothing in this article should be interpreted as making something legal without the woman's and any appropriate third party's consent.
The POCSO Act's Section 27 (2) outlines the requirements for the medical examination. A female doctor is qualified to perform the medical examination of a female child.

Consent of the Victim

Any woman who has experienced sexual violence is only subjected to a medical examination with her consent. Without the victim's permission, the court and police are not allowed to examine the victim medically under Section 164A. The victim or the person authorized to consent on her behalf may give their consent. When requesting consent, the following considerations must be made:
  1. The victim's parents can give the victim's consent if the victim is not in a state to do so
  2. If the victim is a child below 12years and there is no one on her behalf to give the consent, then the senior doctor from the panel of hospital authorities can give the consent. The decision will be done in the best interest of the child.
  3. We know on the basis of rule of Section 89 and 90, the diseased can only give consent for the medical examination if her age is more than 12 years
  4. As per Section 92 of IPC, a doctor can conduct the lifesaving procedure of the patient without his/her consent.
  5. In accordance with the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015, the Child Welfare Committee should be notified if the child's parents are opposed to their welfare
  6. Any person who will act in the patient's best interest may give their informed consent to a medical examination of a mentally challenged person.
    A jurisdictional court, B parents or the local guardian, C hospital doctors, D a child welfare committee, if a child is involved.
  7. An interpreter may be used to obtain informed consent for the medical examination of a person who has hearing and speech impairments.
  8. The surviving party, a witness, and the examining physician must all sign the consent form.

Medical Evidence role in Criminal Cases

When it comes to rendering verdicts in criminal cases, the purpose of medical evidence is to direct judges toward making logical choices. Medical evidence or a medical expert's opinion is used in court to establish the cause of injuries, their effect, such as whether they are likely to result in death, the most likely weapon that could have caused the injury, etc. in cases of murder, manslaughter, or any other type of bodily harm.

Medical knowledge is a completely different field, and in order to express an opinion on it, which is impossible for a general person to do one must possess specialized knowledge in that field. As a result, medical experts who have been hired as witnesses provide the court with their assessments of the medical evidence. This professional judgment is necessary and frequently considered when criminal cases are decided.

In a situation where the accused might seek relief based on mental incapacity or insanity, it is medical evidence and the scientific procedures associated with it that prove the insanity. The first issue that comes up in any case involving a girl, including rape or kidnapping, is whether or not the girl in question is a minor. Once more, the minority is established with the aid of medical advice.

The scientific studies that are carried out to generate an expert's report also significantly contribute to proving the crime of rape in and of itself. The expert's opinion is not enforceable as evidence, though, because the court of law has the discretion to accept or reject it. Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, which, in theory, devalues expert testimony by categorizing it as purely corroborative in nature, places this discretionary power at the Court's disposal.

Landmark Judgments

Selvi vs. State of Karnataka
The initial round of criminal appeals, which were filed in 2004 by Mr. Selvi and others, were followed by additional appeals. In the first cases, it was claimed that gathering information by the investigating authorities will aid in crime prevention in the future. Additionally, it has been argued that using these strategies will strengthen the evidence and increase the proportion of convictions and acquittals.

This case has shed a lot of light on using technical evidence to establish guilt.

In this case, the following technical evidence is discussed:
  1. Narco Analysis Test:

    The accused is given a hypnotic drug for this test, and once he enters his subconscious, questions are posed to him for answers. There is no greater success rate. In addition, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a statement made while under the influence of hypnosis was not voluntary and could not be used as evidence.
  2. Brain Electrical Activation Profile:

    This technique measures activity that is induced by specific exposure to stimuli in order to determine whether the subject is familiar with a given amount of information.
The Court has ruled that administering narco analysis without consent is cruel, inhumane, and degrading. If the accused was not given consent, the narco analysis test's evidence collection is inadmissible.

The Court also emphasized how the evidence obtained using the aforementioned methods has some limitations. The constitutional provision that deals with self-incrimination, Section 20(3), was interpreted by the court.

The Court ruled that the use of medical examinations and other techniques, including DNA profiling, brain mapping, and polygraph tests, should be restricted to gathering information that will incriminate the accused.

Additionally, the accused's right to privacy shouldn't be violated.

Deoman Shamji Patil v/s the State

In this instance, the accuser was the petitioner. The case's facts were that a police officer learned of a person who was misbehaving and causing trouble on a public street while under the influence of alcohol one day. In response to the information, the responsible police official dispatched a team of 5 to 6 constables to the scene. Upon arrival, they discovered the person was under the influence of alcohol and made the decision to take him to the nearest hospital for a physical examination.

Meanwhile, he refused to be taken to the doctor by the police officers who tried to do so, and a fight broke out between him and a police constable, who he punched during the fight. While the accused was being dragged to the pharmacy for the medical examination, he managed to flee the area in the interim.

He turned himself in to the police after giving the seriousness of his actions some time to sink in. In accordance with Section 353 of the IPC, he was found guilty of preventing the public servant from carrying out his duty.

The conviction was overturned on appeal, and the court cited a technical reading of Section 99(1) of the IPC that stated the accused was not allowed to use private defence. The constable, who is not authorized to make such a decision, gave the order to take the accused to the medical dispensary.

The Court overturned the trial court's order after ruling that the accused is not guilty under Sections 352 and 354 of the IPC.

Ram Swaroop Pathak v/s the State of Madhya Pradesh
The prosecution in this case was a member of class eight. An English teacher, the appellant, was involved. The appellant went to the prosecutrix's house and requested that she take the money for the milk since the guardian wasn't present at home. After that, the teacher took her to a remote location (a rented room), where she was raped.

He received a warning from the teacher not to tell anyone about the situation or she would suffer the consequences. According to the ruling, the lower court found the appellant guilty and sentenced him to 10 years of solitary confinement for the first count and 3 years for the final count.

The appellant appealed to the high court, which upheld his bail application on the following grounds:

  1. In this instance, there was a two-day delay in the medical examination.
  2. Additionally, her mother contradicts the prosecutor's version of events, telling the daughter that the appellant was merely trying to offend her modesty.
  3. Additionally, the presence of semen which is not visible on the prosecutrix's body's slide presentation was cited as evidence during the medical examination.
Based on the aforementioned conclusion, the court partially upheld the appeal, upheld the Section 506 conviction, and sentenced the defendant to up to three years of solitary confinement.

The medical evidence presented and examined by the prosecution had a corroborative value, according to the Supreme Court's ruling in the 1983 case of Chimanbhai Ukabhai v. State of Gujarat, which declared it admissible. In addition, the court noted that the medical testimony suggested that the complainant's injuries may have contributed to the person's death naturally as claimed.

Additionally, the medical evidence supports the veracity of the alleged causes of injury on its own, and this can later be confirmed with eyewitness testimony. As a result, the testimony of such witnesses can be recorded and approved as admissible. The apparent inconsistency between two eyewitness accounts cannot be used to dismiss one.

However, it is not possible to discount an eyewitness account based on an apparent discrepancy with medical evidence unless the medical evidence goes above and beyond to completely rule out all possibilities of injuries occurring in the manner described by the eyewitnesses.

Even though the issue at hand related to the death penalty in trials, it was also considered in the case of Rajendra Pralhadrao Wasnik v. State of Maharashtra whether a convict could be changed and rehabilitated in society. The court ruled that the prosecution must present evidence in court to demonstrate that the prisoner cannot be changed or saved.

On this front, a number of facts can be revealed, including details regarding the defendant's actions while incarcerated and while out on bail, medical information regarding his mental state, and communication with his family, among other things. The convicts may also submit such reports or medical evidence.

We can look at this most recent decision of the Supreme Court from the year 2020 to understand the position of medical evidence in Indian criminal jurisdiction and its admissibility. In the case of Santosh Prasad @ Santosh Kumar v. State of Bihar, the apex court ruled that the accused cannot be found guilty of rape based solely on the prosecutrix's statement unless her testimony is impeccable.

The prosecutrix's statement or evidence was scrutinized by the apex court in the landmark decision, but it turned out that it did not agree with the doctor's medical testimony. As a result, the Court thought about the bigger picture and addressed the question of whether the accused can be found guilty based solely on the prosecutrix's deposition even when the medical evidence and the testimony of the other witnesses do not support it.

From the analysis above, it is clear that the prosecutor's evidence must be supported by the medical evidence in order to establish the crime of rape. Additionally, as stated by a number of other important cases, including Piara Singh v. Territory of Punjab, the court must take into account the evidence that is consistent with the direct evidence or whose testimony is consistent with the facts of the prosecutrix's deposition when two medical evidences contradict one another and are on an equal footing to form an expert opinion.

The Karnataka High Court upheld that rape suspects can be found guilty even in the absence of medical evidence in the case of State of Karnataka v. S.Raju . Therefore, it is not always necessary to bolster claims with medical records.

In a similar vein, the Supreme Court ruled in State of MP v. Dayal Sahu , that an appellate court cannot reserve its findings of guilt based on unrelated circumstances. If the victim's and other witnesses' testimony was deemed credible, the accused will not be given the benefit of the doubt if the prosecution's doctor was not questioned.

According to the circumstances, the victim's medical examination should be conducted differently. The procedure calls for the presence of a medical professional close to the scene of the crime, but if the crime was committed in a remote location without access to medical care, it is also important to consider what options might be available. To address the issues of the present, the government hospital should be improved and furnished with contemporary technology.


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