LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has regretted that approximately 90 per cent of medical examiners are inexpert, untrained and know nothing about the practical aspects of examining an injured person.
In a 13-page verdict, Justice Ali Zia Bajwa says the field of medico-legal plays a vital role and provides great assistance for determining the guilt or innocence of an accused.
He observes that due to great significance and reliance of the criminal justice system on medico-legal mechanism, great responsibility is imposed on the medical experts performing such job. But with this significance comes the immense responsibilities on the medical examiners, the judge adds.
Justice Bajwa remarks, “Where a medico-legal system comprises untrained, inexpert and unqualified medical examiners, it is bound to result in miscarriage of justice.”
Says guarantee of fair trial is wishful expectation without effective medico-legal system
The judge notes that in Punjab province minimum qualification for appointing a medical examiner is four-week practical training course.
However, the judge observes with surprise that the data furnished by the Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department reveals that only 10.45pc of medical examiners meet the minimum qualification threshold, which is mandatory before start of medico-legal work.
He laments that approximately 90pc of medical examiners are inexpert, untrained and knows nothing about the practical aspects of examining an injured person.
Justice Bajwa remarks that the opinion of a medical examiner is not only relevant but also most pivotal in the criminal justice system and at times it plays a decisive role coupled with other evidence.
He says guarantee of fair trial is a wishful expectation without a medico-legal system comprising true experts having adequate qualification and skills.
“A medico-legal system with 90 per cent inexpert and unqualified medical examiners surely is not in consonance with the right to fair trial as guaranteed under Article 10- A of the Constitution,” the judge observes.
The judge says the current situation is not only alarming but also resulting in miscarriage of justice in hundreds of cases every day.
The judge has directed both, primary & secondary healthcare and specialised healthcare & medical education departments to ensure that medical examiners meet the minimum qualification threshold and no unqualified and inexperienced doctor be posted to perform such crucial and sensitive job.
He observes that the minimum qualification standard should also be improved gradually as one-month practical training course seems inadequate and too short to perform such a sensitive and complex job.
He says every medical examiner shall be bound to furnish his reasons in support of his opinion and for that purpose a space shall be provided in the medico-legal certificate.
Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2022