Chief Justice of J&K High Court, Justice Gita Mittal today highlighted the importance of a doctor being as the immediate responder to a victim of domestic or sexual violence and said that the testimony of doctor is the vital evidence to punish the guilty of the crime. She called upon the doctors to use their inner conscience while attending the victims of such crimes so that their opinions become the main evidence in determining the cases by the judiciary.
The Chief Justice was speaking at a day-long training programme for presiding officers and doctors on handling survivors of sexual violence at hospitals. The training was organized under the aegis of High Court of J&K in collaboration with the Health Department and J&K State Judicial Academy.
Justice Alok Aradhe, Judge J&K High Court and Chairman of State Judicial Academy, Justice Sindhu Sharma, Judge J&K High Court, Resource Persons, Dr. Jagadeesh Narayana Reddy, Dr. Padma Deosthalli, Abdul Rashid Malik, Director State Judicial Academy, Dr. Samir Mattoo, Director Health Services, Jammu, Judicial Officers, doctors and other members of the legal fraternity were present in the workshop.
Justice Gita Mittal said that the purpose of holding this important programme is to explain the significant role a doctor plays in helping a victim to get justice at times.
She said, “in a case of domestic violence, a doctor while trying to ascertain the reasons behind the patient’s condition, usually records the patient’s history. “If the victim dies, the same statement recorded by the doctor before the death of the patient and is treated by the Judge as the “dying declaration” of the victim. The dying declaration, supported by the testimony of the doctor confirming that the victim actually made that statement, can be relied upon to convict the husband or the in-laws or whosoever has committed the crime, and at times it could even be relied upon to punish the accused as per law.
The CJ called for organizing frequent interactions between doctors and lawyers to clear doubts that gets created at various instances while delivering the professional duties.
She also deliberated on the needs to be done if the medical examination of a victim of sexual violence records no evidence of rape. “Rape is not a medical term, it is certainly not taught in the medical books. It has been interpreted after the 2013 amendment to the law and has several nuances and connotations, including outraging modesty and other terms. These are all legal expressions. So what the doctor has to record while doing a medical examination of a patient is debatable,” she added.
She also explained the reason why it is important to sensitize the doctors regarding some legal knowledge and how they are supposed to react when they get a summon from the court.
“If a doctor is supposed to come to court as a witness, however, at the same time he/she gets an emergency call from the hospital to attend a patient urgently. What should a doctor do in such a circumstance? Whether to go to court and or to attend the patient and face the legal warrant afterwards ?. Therefore, it is important that doctors are aware with the law and how to deal in such circumstances,” said the Chief Justice.
The resource persons deliberated in length and breadth on several issues on the subject and also enlightened the participants on the advancements on this particular subject.
The discussion on gender issues revolved around on understanding circumstances and context in which sexual violence occurs, while as forensic issues during survivor’s examination were deliberated upon under legal issues and laws governing sessions.
Director J&K State Judicial Academy, Abdul Rashid Malik conducted the proceedings of the workshop and introduced the subject to the participants.