Delhi High Court orders judicial inquiry into delay in autopsy

New Delhi, Dec 18 : The Delhi High Court Wednesday ordered a judicial inquiry into the delay in conducting the post-mortem examination of a prisoner who died of pneumonia while in custody last month.

A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan expressed displeasure over the incident, saying: "You stop giving medicines when people are alive. But at least do your job when they die."

"We direct the District Judge North West to conduct an inquiry... We will fix the responsibility. Whether the negligence was on the part of police, health department or the judge, we will pass the order," the bench said.

The court order came on a PIL saying that on account of Muharram holidays that week in government offices and hospitals, the post-mortem examination of the body of a prisoner who died Nov 15 was not conducted till Nov 19, and the family did not get the body for four days.

Gaurav, 23, lodged in the city's Rohini Jail in a murder case, died Nov 15 after he was admitted to the Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital in a critical condition. His family alleged that none of them was informed by police or jail authorities about his medical condition.

The plea alleged that the post-mortem examination was not conducted because Muharram was followed by Sunday.

Avadh Kaushik, the deceased man's lawyer, filing the PIL in the high court, sought formulation of certain norms and guidelines in respect of ailing and sick prisoners and regarding immediate post-mortem examination of bodies of patients who expire in hospitals.

It also sought directions to jail authorities to make necessary provisions in the law in respect of providing immediate information to family members and relatives of the prisoners in the event of illness of the prisoner and particularly when he is admitted to hospital.

The family had sought the court's intervention to probe the circumstances that led to Gaurav's death in judicial custody and to ascertain whether there were lapses in his treatment.

The police had earlier told the bench that it was the metropolitan magistrate who delayed in passing an order on conducting the post-mortem examination of Gaurav, not police.

In its response earlier the government also told the court that post-mortem examinations and medico-legal tests of prisoners who die in judicial custody will be conducted at 13 demarcated government hospitals, on Sundays and holidays too.

--IANS (Posted on 18-12-2013)

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