THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Police officers will be responsible for the protection of doctors during the medical examination of individuals detained in any criminal case. As per the revised medico-legal protocol aimed to ensure the protection of medical and judicial officers, police can handcuff the person being examined if the individual is found to be violent.
The revised guidelines, released by the government four months after the murder of Dr Vandana Das by a man brought for medical examination at the Kottarakkara taluk hospital, have been hailed by government doctors.
The protocol says officers should be ready to protect the examining doctor in case of an attack. They have to ascertain whether the detainee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and note it in their diary and general diary (GD), it says. It also says house surgeons and resident doctors should refrain from treating persons under custody or jail inmates, and attend to such cases only if senior doctors are unavailable.
The protocol lays stress on communication between officers producing an accused, convict or victim under custody, the hospital where they would be examined and the nearby police station.
If a detainee is prone to violent behaviour, the cops shall inform the doctor, and shall not leave the detainee alone with the examiner unless directed otherwise under valid reasons, it says.
As per the new protocol, handcuffs can be removed if the doctor deems it necessary. Even then, the officer shall be at hand to intervene in case of emergency.
Attack on hospitals: FIR within one hour, chargesheet in 60 days
The police station in-charge shall send personnel if they get information about the presence of a drunk or violent person in a hospital without police escort. Officers have been directed to use a breathalyser before producing a person for medical examination and apply for a drunkenness certificate in a signed application by mentioning the crime number and GD reference.
They shall not bring more than one person involved in drunk, violent and improper behaviour to the casualty at a time. If it is unavoidable, the police must ensure protection to health workers, the protocol says.
In case a person is being brought for examination after 5pm, the investigating officer should intimate the extraordinary situation and be present to explain the situation, it says. The police have been directed not to handcuff a person while remanding them without the magistrate’s approval. Similar clearance is required for handcuffing an accused while executing the warrant, the protocol says.
All applications for medico-legal examination should have a crime number. In case of a hospital attack, police shall register an FIR under The Kerala Healthcare Service Persons and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence & Damage to property) Act, 2012, within an hour and submit a chargesheet within 60 days. The respective police station and patrolling unit should accord top priority to the attack. If doctors notice an injury on the detainee, they should enquire whether it happened before or after the detention, and note it in their report, along with the time of arrest.