KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued show-cause notice to focal person of health department over his failure to submit compliance report on its earlier order that asked provincial health secretary to convene a meeting to address the issues of corruption and malpractices in the medico-legal system and non-implementation of medico-legal procedures that take heavy toll on the victims of violence and abuse.
Two-judge bench headed by Justice Ahmed Ali M Shaikh was hearing a petition filed by a non-government organization, Madadgaar through which it requested the court to direct relevant health authorities to ensure implementation of rules and regulations while performing of medic-legal examination.
The court has been pleaded to order provincial government to establish forensic laboratory and provide facility of DNA test for citizens of Sindh province in order to save scientific evidences for promoting justice and equity.
Counsel for the petitioner submitted that medico-legal officers (MLOs) and police surgeons commit grave criminal negligence in performing their legal duties which cause too much hardship for victims of abuse and violence especially women and children and deprive them of justice.
He said that there was proper medico-legal procedure and health department time and again issued directions for medico-legal examination to facilitate and provide services for destitute women and children but such procedures are not followed by MLOs which add to the miseries of victims. Besides, the mismanagement and corruption in the system contributed to their sufferings.
Counsel said that in most cases, MLOs in collusion with accused party did not allow police to record victims’ statements on the pretext of their poor health. However, he said that as per procedure capability of victim to have his statement recorded is to be determined by ward doctor who was treating him. Due to this criminal act on the part of MLOs, accused parties get undue advantage and consequently this illegal practice denied the victim swift justice.
Contrary to the directions of health department victim women and children are medically examined at the office of police surgeon instead of a hospital which is also against the prescribed rules and regulations. In rape cases, some MLOs who go hand in glove with accused party declare victims as virgin.
He said that if the medico-legal procedures are followed properly it helps in provision of justice to victims. Counsel said that victim women and children enjoyed right to protection of their life integrity and respect under the Article 4 of the Constitution and provincial government is duty bound to protect the same. Unfortunately, he said, victims’ rights are violated by MLOs who misuse their powers and manipulate medical certificates.
After hearing arguments, the court had noted that points raised in the litigation are of public welfare can be addressed in a high level meeting to be chaired by top officers of health department. Therefore, the court had asked health secretary to arrange meeting on the matter and also provide hearing opportunity to litigant so that issues can be addressed.
Hearing of case was put off till September 12.