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Disposal of dead- Inquest procedure in Sri Lanka Dr. M. Vidanapathirana, MBBS, DLM, MD (Colombo), MA- Criminology, MFFLM (UK) Senior Lecturer, Consultant.

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Presentation on theme: "Disposal of dead- Inquest procedure in Sri Lanka Dr. M. Vidanapathirana, MBBS, DLM, MD (Colombo), MA- Criminology, MFFLM (UK) Senior Lecturer, Consultant."— Presentation transcript:

1 Disposal of dead- Inquest procedure in Sri Lanka Dr. M. Vidanapathirana, MBBS, DLM, MD (Colombo), MA- Criminology, MFFLM (UK) Senior Lecturer, Consultant in Forensic Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura

2 DISPOSAL OF DEAD 4 steps Declaration – – Home Natural – – Reg. B 12 –CCD (certificate of COD) by a doctor (treated or viewed) – Reg. B 24- RDG (report of the Death by GN) – by GN eg. Natural illness Unnatural /suspicious- inform police – Hospital Natural and COD is known- DDF –by ward doctor Natural and COD not known – Reg. B 18- ICD – by ISD – Government estate- Superintendent on a statutory form – If suspicious/judicial/homicidal/COD is unknown – PM by JMO – COD form given to ISD- ISD/Magistrate issues Reg – B- 18- ICD Registration – Above statutory form + declaration of death form (Reg. B 11)- submit to BDM registrar- then issues the DC Undertakers- with DC Disposal –with DC

3 A. Declaration of the death a. Home deaths – If death appears to be not natural- the Police should be informed. – If death appears to be natural- there are two methods of declaration of the death.

4 A Medical Practitioner (registered with SLMC) can be called upon (not necessarily from that area) to issue a statutory form called “Certificate of COD” (CCD) (Registration B-12). Such medical practitioner prior to issue the CCD must ensure that He/she has treated the deceased’s last illness or View the body The Medical Practitioner also has to ensure that it doesn’t require an inquest. Otherwise, inform the Police.

5 If no suitable medical practitioner is available, the “Grama Niladhari” of the area can declare the death if satisfied, GN may issue a certificate in a statutory form “Report of the death by Grama Niladhari” (RDG) (Registration B-24) indicating that a person has died of a natural illness (not the COD). There, he has to mention the GN division, date of death, name, sex, race, age, occupation, COD (eg. a natural illness), informant’s name. Also has to asses whether it requires an inquest. Otherwise, inform to Police.

6 Body can be taken to the nearest hospital. Subjected to an inquest and the “inquirer’s Certificate of Death”(ICD) (Registration B-18) will be issued.

7 When death occurs in a Government estate, The superintendent of the estate can declare the death by using a statutory form.

8 When death occurs in a Hospital (Government or private) If natural & cause of death is known- “Declaration of Death Form” (DDF) (Registration B-33) is issued by the Medical Officer. No inquest is arranged. If an inquest is indicated (under sec. 370 of the CCPA), inform police & order an inquest. When an inquest has been requested, the Medical Officer should not fill the declaration of death form. If natural and COD is not known – MO can write the probable COD on the BHT If suspicious, judicial (RTA) or homicidal – MO should not write the probable COD on the BHT even it is known. An inquest is held and the “Inquirer’s Certificate of Death”(ICD) (Registration B-18) is issued.

9 d. When a death is referred to the ISD /Magistrate for an inquest by others (eg. police, relatives, people) an inquest is held and the “Inquirer’s Certificate of Death” (ICD) (Registration B-18) is issued.

10 B. Registration The laws are laid in “Births and deaths registration act”(No. 37 of 2006) and The “regulations for the death registrars”. With one of the above mentioned statutory forms, a relative goes to the “Registrar of birth, marriage and death” and requests a “Declaration of death form” (Registration B-11). The Duly filled declaration of death form along with the above statutory form is submitted to the Registrar. Then the “Death Certificate” (DC) is issued. It contains the Place of disposal and method of disposal (burial or cremation)

11 C. Undertakers – with the DC, the body can be handed over to an undertaker for the funeral arrangements.

12 D. Disposal- with the DC, a place for burial or cremation from the cemetery or a time of the crematorium for cremation can be obtained.

13 INQUEST PROCEDURE 1) Inquest – Definition The inquest is a fact-finding inquiry about a death. The main objectives of an inquest are to establish the identity of the deceased person and establish the cause of death, manner and circumstances of the death. It is not held to accuse anyone for a death. There is no prosecution or defense. The findings of the inquest may be used for further judicial investigation.

14 2) Conducted by a. Magistrate- conducts inquests on all homicides and suspicious deaths. According to the subsection 371 of CCP of Sri Lanka, the magistrate should inquire into deaths of prisoners, anybody who dies while in police custody or in a mental hospital and leprosy hospital. b. Inquirer into Sudden Deaths (ISD) - The ISD is appointed by the Ministry of Justice. Most instances, the ISD is a lay person. The minimal educational requirement to be appointed as an ISD is passing the GCE Ordinary Level examination. He should be a resident in the area to which he is appointed.

15 The ISD has powers to summon any witness to give evidence and produce any documents relevant to the inquiry of the death. If somebody fails to do so, the ISD may issue a warrant for the apprehension and produce this of such a person before him. The ISD has powers to fine or to order imprisonment of a person who fails to appear before him when summoned

16 3) Indications for an inquest (370 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act (CPA)-1979 1. Suicides. 2. Killed by animals or machineries or by an accident. 3. Sudden death. 4. Cause of death is not known

17 4) Sudden death- Definition - Who was apparently well, dies unexpectedly. (WHO definition is deaths within 24 hours. But it can be minutes, hours, or days after the onset of symptoms.) Therefore, Doctor has to request an inquest on following sudden deaths Death Before admission. Death due to medical, surgical or anaesthetic procedures or immediately afterwards. Death following administration of blood, blood products or a drug. Death due to violence (Homicides). Death of an inmate of prison, mental or leprosy hospital and while in police custody.

18 Death due to animal bites, rabies (following animal bites) or tetanus (following injuries) Death due to suspicious circumstances. (ISD has to refer to the magistrate immediately) Maternal deaths (DGHS has ordered to request inquest in all cases of maternal deaths. Because, the mothers are not expected to die). (A death that has occurred within 24 hours of admission to a ward need not be an indication to ask for an inquest. It is an indication in UK. The cause of death may be ascertained and if it is determined to be a natural one, the body can be released without an inquest. But an inquest must be requested on all deaths certified at the Out Patient Department (OPD).

19 5) ISD receive information about a death from (any person), a) From Hospital Drs. b) From Police. c) From Public. d) ISD himself.

20 6) Then the inquirer visits to the scene – inquirer’s duties at the scene, Immediately visit the scene, Makes an Inquiry. He can give an “apparent COD”. Documentation and describe the wounds (fractures, bruises and other marks) and objects, Manner of causing those marks or injuries. Circumstances of the death.

21 7) How an inquest is held Participants. – Inquirer. – Police - An officer from the police station in the area where the deceased was living or where the incident which resulted the death took place should be present at the inquiry. The police officer’s duty is to present the witnesses and lead the evidence before the ISD/ Magistrate. The inquirer need not totally depend on the witnesses produced by the police officer. – Witnesses (eye witnesses, relatives, a person who is compelled to give evidence by ISD eg. Doctors). – 2 close relatives to identify the body

22 Procedure Police officer lead the evidence of the witnesses to Inquirer. Inquirer records statements from them – he questions the witnesses. He can issue summons/ warrants to the witnesses to give evidence or to produce any document or other thing. If fails to give evidence, he can fine. If non homicidal, non judicial, non suspicious & the COD is known  only an inquest is held, no post mortem is ordered. If homicidal or judicial or suspicious or COD is not known  both inquest + post mortem are done.

23 Post mortem procedure. – Done by Government MO of the district or any medical practitioner of that area. – Participants at PM procedure – police, relatives, friends & witnesses. – Aim – cause of death (also collect supportive evidence to assess manner and circumstances of death).

24 8) Procedure after the inquest a. ISD issues Inquirer’s Certificate of Death (ICD)(Registration B-18). It contains cause of death, Manner of death, manner of disposal (burial or cremation). b. Then relatives hand it over to the Registrar of Death. He issues the Death Certificate (DC). c. Then the DC is handed over to OC office of the hospital, then to the mortuary and get released the body and handed over to the undertakers. d. If suspicious, ISD immediately report the death to the nearest Magistrate, then the magistrate starts the investigation.

25 9) Inquest law of Sri Lanka (Code of Criminal Procedure Act Sec.369 – 373) Sec. 370 -Powers and Duties of Inquirer: Power of ISD. – ISD can summon, warrant or fine a witnesses, – The final report has to be submitted to the nearest magistrate as soon as possible. – Magistrate can over rule ISD’s decisions & if suspicious, he can start the investigation from the beginning. Duties of ISD – Information of death is received from – Doctor, Police, Relative. – Scene visit – Inquest.

26 Sec. 371- Custody deaths (Police, prison, children and women homes, leprosy hospital and mental hospital). These deaths are inquired only by the Magistrate.

27 Sec. 372-Inquest procedure. Recording of evidence by the inquirer. Place – usually public place (but the inquirer can exclude the public if he wants).

28 Sec. 373 – Postmortem Done by Government MO of the district or any medical practitioner. Only magistrate can give exhumation orders.

29 Q: - Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the inquest system in Sri Lanka. Advantages: – Lay person – fee is not required to meet him – Local person – fast process, Feel free to meet him, Easy to visit the scene, More information is received, – Immediately visit the scene. – Information receive is more. – Magistrate can overrule the ISD. – Magistrate number has become less. – Post mortems are done by a Dr. of that area. – Power to take evidence from witnesses.

30 Disadvantages – No facilities. – No verdict can be given. – Less qualifications (O/L) (other countries, UK – lawyers, USA – Doctors), <60 yrs, good character, preferably from that area). – Legal powers are given to a non-legal person. – Inappropriate causes of deaths are given by ISD. – Inquirer’s description of injuries may be inadequate to the courts – Medical powers are given to a non-medical person. – Minister of justice appoints ISDs. ? A political appointment – President can overrule the inquest procedure- Eg: - 1989 insurgency – bodies found on the roads were buried without inquests. – Post mortems are done by the local MO -can become a business (association). Some important or difficult cases are also conducted by them, without referring.


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