ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Accessories After the Fact

groups demanding public accountability from physicians and the latter demanding immunity from prosecution for dereliction of duty, one particular type of work in which certain Indian health professionals are engaged has come in for closer scrutiny by human rights groups;. This relates to autopsy reports by doctors on custodial deaths, Inquiries into some recent cases have revealed that doctors, especially those in government employment, quite often certify custodial deaths as having been caused by suicide, heart failure, or some other ailments while later diagnoses by other doctors confirm that the victims had died of police torture. Some years ago in Hyderabad when suspicions were voiced about the veracity of the autopsy report on the death of a press correspondent, the medical practitioner who had prepared the autopsy report refused to be interrogated by the members a commission of inquiry set up by the Editors' Guild of India to investigate into the journalist's death, in spite of repeated pleas by the commission. Sometime ago in Delhi the death of a middle-aged merchant in police custody was at first explained away as due to heart failure, but later other persons who were detained with him testified as eyewitnesses to his having been beaten to death by the police. It is obvious that government-employed doctors, when asked by the police for autopsy reports, throw to the winds the Hippocratic Oath and tend instead to tailor their certificates to protect the police.

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