Mulls removing anomalies from Delhi Anatomy Act

Three weeks after a man approached the Delhi High Court narrating his ordeal in getting a no-objection certificate from the Delhi Police in handing over his deceased sister’s body to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences for cadaver donation, the Delhi Government has decided to frame draft guidelines for donation/ receipt of bodies for medical teaching by medical institutes in the State.

The government is also mulling amending the Delhi Anatomy Act to remove certain anomalies and make it more universal in nature.

The government on Wednesday informed the Court of Chief Justice G. Rohini about the same while submitting before it the minutes of a meeting called by Special Secretary (Health) with T.S. Roy of the Department of Anatomy at AIIMS; Mukesh Kumar from the Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation (ORBO) at AIIMS; Maulana Azad Medical College Forensic Medicine Head of Department S.K. Khanna and G.B. Pant Hospital Surgery Department Head Anil Agarwal.

The High Court asked amicus curiae Ajay Verma to take up the issue of guidelines with the appropriate government and its agencies and assist the court.

The meeting was convened to discuss issues pertaining to non-issue of NOC by the Delhi Police for handing over of body to the ORBO and its Anatomy Department.

The issue came in focus after one V.K. Gupta filed a petition complaining non-fulfilment of wishes of his deceased sister, who during her lifetime had pledged her body for use at AIIMS for organ donation. However, he said, the Delhi Police was not giving him an NOC.

At the meeting, Dr. Roy said that before taking the body in the Anatomy Department for education purposes, AIIMS requires an NOC from the police to ensure that the body is not required for medico-legal purposes. He said since the body is embalmed for use in medical education, it destroys evidence of foul play. Thus, an NOC becomes inevitable. Further, an NOC helps the police trace the body if required in future.

Dr. Roy highlighted that the Indian Anatomy Act applies to unclaimed body, whereas Bombay Anatomy Act caters to both claimed and unclaimed bodies in case of whole body donation and hence it is more appropriate if the Delhi Anatomy Act is revised.

Mr. Kumar said organs are retrievable in case of brain dead persons. Where death is not of brain dead-type, the ORBO refers the body to the Anatomy Department if the family desires.

The Delhi Police, however, requested that although they gives NOCs in case of embalming, it will be better if some guidelines are issued for giving NOC in case of cadaver donations to medical institutes.

Dr. Agarwal opined that a procedure must also be put in place allowing the transfer of the body from one Delhi institute to another if the body is not required at that institute.

The Special Secretary (Health) stated that the Delhi Police may follow the procedure before issuing an NOC. The Secretary also asked Dr. Roy to send the draft of revised Delhi Anatomy Act to remove anomalies in it keeping in view the Bombay Anatomy Act.

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