Quelling doubts over the legal standing the post-mortem examination report on the gang-rape victim prepared by the Singaporean team, experts here are of the opinion that there is no reason why it will not be admissible as evidence in a Delhi court.
While the post-mortem report, comprising all details including the nature of injuries, will be prepared by the Singaporean team, police sources said the document could be attested by Indian High Commission authorities and supplied to a board of doctors here to determine the cause of death on the basis of information so shared.
“I have never examined such a case… It is an unprecedented situation. However, at first blush there is no reason why it should not be admissible in the court here. The reason being that the victim has a medical history prepared by doctors at a Delhi hospital, which comes under the court jurisdiction. On the basis of the same report, her treatment was carried forward at the Singapore hospital,” said an eminent criminal lawyer.
Concurring that the case was indeed one-of-its-kind, another prominent Delhi High Court lawyer said both logically and legally the post-mortem report will be admissible under our legal system.
“In the chain of sequence, first comes the report on the medical condition of the victim prepared by the doctors in Delhi. Cause of death is the subsequent event. It is on the report of the Delhi hospital doctors from which references will be drawn on what and why anything happened with the victim and what led to her death. The fact that she lost her life is because ‘something’ happened to her. As has been reported, she suffered a cardiac arrest, which was a fallout of the injuries inflicted during the barbaric assault on her by the accused. Her condition deteriorated midway while she was under the supervision of Indian doctors has also to be factored in.” He said a similar situation could arise in deaths on foreign vessels out of the country’s jurisdiction, in which also the post-mortem report will be admissible.
On legal front as well, the post-mortem report will hold evidentiary value as although in a foreign country it has been prepared by a team of qualified medical experts.
“They will come under the definition of an expert under Section 45 of the Evidence Act. Through the test of equivalence, it is ascertained whether degrees held by doctors in Singapore are recognised in India. If yes, the documents prepared by them are admissible and can personally depose before an Indian court as experts or through video-conferencing or their statement can be recorded through a panel.”
Under Section 45 of the Evidence Act “when the court has to form an opinion upon a point of foreign law, or of science, or art, or as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions, opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in such foreign law, science or art, or in questions as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions are relevant facts. Such persons are called experts”.
Refusing to comment on any particular case, eminent lawyer Najmi Waziri said in the prevailing circumstances, the credibility of the criminal justice system in the eyes of the public is at stake. He said all the components — the police through investigations, the prosecution and the judiciary — will have to demonstrate that the system delivers. What is on test, is the people’s faith in the system, he added.