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No courtroom exposure to medical students as MCI doesn’t prescribe it: AIIMS

New Delhi: In a shocking revelation to an RTI query, AIIMS Delhi & Rishikesh and other medical colleges of the country have informed that they are not taking MBBS medical students to court for giving exposure to court room procedures of recording of medical evidence in order to teach medico-legal practices as the Medical Council of India (MCI) doesn’t mandate it.

Dr O P Murty, professor of forensic medicine and public information officer of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, however, said that it will be a helpful exposure for medical students if they are exposed to court procedures and expert medical evidence.

“Due to non-exposure to court procedures and lack of hands on training about how to depose and give expert medical evidence in the court of law, we (medical students) are not becoming competent enough to give proper medical evidence in a court of law and unable to understand the practical intricacies of deposition of expert medical evidence,” said Mohamed Khader Meeran, an MBBS student at Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS), Sevagram, who had filed multiple RTIs with the union health ministry and the MCI.

“It has been observed that doctors are unable to answer important basic questions in the court and are unable to justify their opinion with reasons while deposing as a medical witness. Even the Indian judiciary, in various cases, has highlighted that doctors have given shocking opinions in the courtroom, often contradicting documents and records. Such evidence has resulted into miscarriage of justice. Not giving hands on training of medico-legal aspects and lack of exposure to court room procedure is one of the major reasons for subpar performance by doctors in the court of law,” said Dr Indrajit Khandekar, professor and in-charge of clinical forensic medicine at MGIMS Sevagram, who is coordinating this project.

Every MBBS graduate after completion of medical course has to handle various types of medico-legal issues like certification of fitness while recording dying declaration, age estimation of rape victim and trafficked victims, medico-legal exam of assault cases, road traffic accident cases and rape victims & accused. He is also responsible for conducting medico-legal autopsies in murder cases, dowry deaths, and other unnatural death cases, including accident cases. In all the above cases, a doctor has to give expert evidence, as a witness on oath, in the court of law and he is expected to give opinion on various medico-legal issues.

After analysis of various RTI replies, the MCI curriculum and the Indian Medical Council Act, a detailed report has been drafted by Khader Meeran and Dr Khandekar and the same has been submitted to Health Minister J P Nadda and MCI President Dr Jayshree Ben Mehta for necessary action.

According to Dr Khandekar, reasons for the subpar performance by doctors in a court of law are:

1. No demonstration and hands on training how doctor’s evidence is recorded in the courtroom and how to depose.

2. No practical assessment to evaluate whether a doctor has become competent enough to give expert medical evidence in the courtroom.

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