The dearth of concrete post-mortem laws in the country at times hampers the work of medical officers, Sherly Vasu, Head of the Department of Forensic Medicine, and one of the senior most police surgeons in the State, has said.

Delivering a talk on forensic medicine organised by the Calicut Bar Association here on Saturday, she said that surgeons had to deal with political and public pressure daily demanding that post-mortem examination of certain cases be done first. Sometimes there were also requests for exemptions from carrying out an autopsy.

Prof. Sherly said that legislation even at the State level would help streamline the profession. She said that the United States had concrete laws — Model Post-Mortem Examination Act — in judicial proceedings. European countries also had a council for maintaining standards for autopsy though most of them had no legislations.

Prof. Sherly spoke about how doctors were compelled with requisitions for post-mortem examination after 4 p.m. The ideal time for conducting post-mortem examination was between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. and a complete medico-legal post-mortem examination would at least an hour. Pointing out the significance of autopsy reports in judiciary, she said that forensic medicine served a unique purpose in court. “We are the medical investigators of death while the police are homicide investigators,” she said.

Prof. Sherly also lamented the rise in the number of accident deaths. “They are seen as frivolous. No cross examination is done in courts in accident cases,” she said.