A Kerala doctor who stood firm to form protocol against custodial torture

Dr K Prathibha had to brush aside the police diktat in 2018, while she was working in the Kannur district hospital.
Dr K Prathibha
Dr K Prathibha

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The revised medico-legal protocol issued by the state government on medical screening of people brought from police custody has been termed a silverlining in the fight against the menace of custodial violence.

Though the government had framed the protocol on the basis of the recommendations of Justice Narayana Kurup, who had carried out an inquiry on the Nedumkandam custodial death, equally laudable was the effort a government doctor, who had bucked the police pressure to file a medical examination report without mentioning the injuries sustained by a man in custody.

Dr K Prathibha had to brush aside the police diktat in 2018, while she was working in the Kannur district hospital. While conducting a health screening test, the police then wanted her to gloss over the injury marks on the body of a person, who had sustained them during custodial violence. The resistance to police highhandedness gave her a few troubles, but she was undaunted and marched ahead with her fight for ensuring justice to the victims of police excesses.

The Kannur incident prompted her to convince the government to issue a set of guidelines on medico-legal examination. However, her role did not end there. After the government issued the recent protocol, she gave three suggestions which, she felt, could give more insulation for the doctors as well as the persons in custody from police highhandedness.

The guidelines to allow doctors to check the persons away from the police presence, give preference for conducting medical check-up of persons brought from custody and prepare the certificate by specialist doctors after medical examination of the persons brought from custody as part of the protocol were the recommendations of Prathibha, who is currently working at Tanalur Family Health Centre in Malappuram.

Prathibha said she took up the issue to honour human rights as well as ethics of her profession. She said her fight for justice has concluded in a fair manner and she is happy with the government’s new protocol.

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The New Indian Express