Inquest procedure: medical officers’ point of view
University of Colombo, Colombo, LK
Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine
When an average medical student or a postgraduate student is questioned as to why a medical officer must request an inquest for certain type of death, for example, a sudden death, the most likely answer is that ‘a sudden death is included in section 370 of the CPC among the deaths for which an inquest should be held and therefore an inquest must be ordered”. However, the above most common answer is not factually accurate from the medical officer’s point of view. Section 370(1) of the CPC is essentially meant for inquirers and not to be regarded as instructions given for medical officers pertaining to deaths for which an inquest should be requested. Death investigation system of Sri Lanka does not place a medical officer in a special position as an informant. A medical officer carries the same responsibility as an ordinary person. The responsibility of an ordinary person regarding certain types of death is stipulated in section 21 (b) of the CPC. This fact may be of crucial importance in a case where a medical officer’s decision to request or not to request an inquest for a certain type of death is questioned. However, there is no punitive action described for noncompliance of section 21(b) in CPC.
28 Dec 2017.