CJ inaugurates training programme for Presiding Officers, Medicos
Srinagar, Oct 20: The Chief Justice of J&K High Court, Justice Gita Mittal, on Saturday said the dying declaration of a victim of sexual abuse supported by a doctor’s testimony can send the guilty to gallows.
The Chief Justice was speaking at a daylong training programme for presiding officers and doctors on how to handle survivors of sexual violence at hospitals.
The training, under the High Court of J&K, was organised in collaboration with the Health Department here at J&K State Judicial Academy.
Justice Alok Aradhe, Judge High Court, J&K, and Chairman of State Judicial Academy, Abdul Rashid Malik, Director State Judicial Academy, Yash Pal Bourney, Member Secretary, State Legal Service Authority, Dr Farida Noor, Professor and Head Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, and doctors from various government hospitals were present in the meeting.
Addressing the gathering, the Chief Justice said the purpose of holding this programme was to the explain the significant role a doctor plays in helping a victim to get justice.
Justice Gita 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 may be 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. At times, it could even be relied upon to send the accused to gallows,” Justice Gita said.
The CJ urged for holding a frequent conversation between doctors and lawyers to remove the doubts that gets created at various instances while delivering the professional duties.
“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.
Reiterating the need to overcome the personal biases, the CJ said, “We do not realise that subconsciously we carry with us the baggage of our own experience in life.”
Quoting an example, CJ said if a sex worker complains of rape, the first impression people have is of surprise.
“We have to overcome that understanding of conceptualization, as everyone has right to sexual bodily integrity, no matter what he/she is involved in or is doing.”
She also explained the reason why it was important to sensitise the doctors regarding some legal knowledge and how they were supposed to react when they get a summon from the court.
“If a doctor is supposed to come to court as a witness and, at the same time, required to handle an emergency., what shall he doctor? Therefore, it is important for the doctors to be aware of how to deal in such circumstances,” said the Justice Gita.
She said during the training, participants will understand about the entire gamut of issues around the cases of sexual violence, especially as professionals.
The CJ expressed the desire that such types of programmes would be replicated all the divisions of the State, including Ladakh and then repeated here in Kashmir to raise awareness among professionals.
She said trainings like these make us more aware and sensitize us with what is lawful and clear doubts when the doctors are carrying out the medical examination of the victim, including the child who has undergone through sexual violence.
During the day, the resource persons Dr Jagadeesh Narayan Reddy, and Vidya Reddy presented and discussed various issues at length with the participants.
The participating doctors were provided with counselling in deposing evidence in the Court of law.