A report published by this daily on December 7, which suggested that a homicide case was filed as an unnatural death (due to suicide) by the police due to the delay in receiving autopsy report, sheds light on the loopholes in our crime investigation process.
The victim, a 33-year-old, was strangulated in July 2017 and his body was hanged from the ceiling by the criminals to make it look like a suicide. Despite the victim’s mother’s protestations that her son could not have committed suicide, the police filed it as such, without even waiting for the autopsy report to arrive—which did turn up, but after more than two years. And in these two years evidence may have been damaged or gone missing.
While it remains a question, why the police filed the death as a suicide without reviewing the autopsy report, the bigger question that needs to be answered is: how can an autopsy report take two years to reach the police from DMCH? And this despite a High Court ruling earlier this year which directed investigation officers to submit autopsy reports to the magistrates concerned within 10 days of any murder.
The doctor concerned had signed the report on August 1, 2017, but it reached the police only on September 15 this year. When asked about the delay, the doctor’s response that the report could have been buried under stacks of files is not only irresponsible but unacceptable. Even the staff working in the report dispatch section could not answer why it took such a long time for the report to be delivered to the police.
And according to DMP data, investigation of 257 unnatural death cases filed more than six months ago have been stalled due to unavailability of autopsy report from DMCH, which employs three forensic experts and two morgue assistants, and on average conducts eight to 10 autopsies a day. However, lack of manpower cannot be used as justification for hampering criminal investigation into a murder case.
The authorities concerned should take a serious look into this issue and immediately address the causes of the problem. Delayed justice due to negligence of forensic doctors is not acceptable and cannot be allowed to happen.