HC orders inquiry into delay in autopsy on undertrial

The Delhi High Court has ordered a judicial inquiry to fix responsibility for delay in conducting autopsy of an undertrial who had fallen ill and was admitted to the Rohini jail hospital.

His autopsy had not been conducted for five days after his death. The court also pulled up the government for failing to simplify and streamline the procedure for conducting autopsies.

Gaurav (24), who was undergoing trial in a murder case, was shifted to Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital in Rohini on November 6 after he slipped into coma. He died there on November 15 (Friday), which was a holiday on account of Muharram. The family claimed they were told that a post-mortem examination would not be conducted on Gaurav's body over the weekend.

"An inquiry should be conducted to fix responsibility on whether police is responsible or the magistrate or the Health department," the court of chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Manmohan said on Wednesday, after police and Health department blamed each other for the delay.

The court has directed the district judge, northwest district to conduct an inquiry to fix responsibility and submit a report within six weeks.

The lawyer for the Health department had claimed that it was the responsibility of the Home department to recommend an inquiry before the medical board could be constituted. Police had claimed that the undertrial was in jail and not under the protection of police. "We were informed late by the jail authorities," argued advocate Pawan Sharma, who appeared on behalf of Delhi Police.

"Why don't you recall these office orders and make a better procedure?" the court said while pulling up lawyers representing the government.

According to the family members, the investigating officer in the case had promised to "write to the government" to constitute a medical board. On the last date of hearing, police had claimed that the delay was caused because the dealing magistrate had left for some personal work instead of issuing orders for an autopsy.

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