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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

MEDICAL  JURISPRUDENCE
AND  TOXICOLOGY

SECTION  I
MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

CHAPTER I

LEGAL PROCEDURE IN CRIMINAL COURTS

./Definition.—Medical Jurisprudence, Forensic Medicine and Legal Medi-
cine are synonymous terms used to denote that branch of State Medicine
which treats of the application of the principles and knowledge of medicine
to the purposes of the law, both civil and criminal. It does not include
Sanitation, Hygiene or Public Health; both this and Medical Jurisprudence
being distinct branches of State Medicine. Medical Jurisprudence proper,
as distinguished from Hygiene, embraces all questions which affect the
civil or social rights of individuals and injuries to the person and bring the
medical practitioner into contact with the law; while Toxicology deals with
the diagnosis, symptoms and treatment of poisons, and the methods of
detecting them.

In his professional career the medical practitioner will have frequently
to give evidence as a medical jurist in a court of law to prove the innocence
or guilt of his fellow subjects, or to authenticate or disprove a criminal
charge of assault, rape or murder brought against an individual. He must
remember that as a medical jurist, his responsibility is very great, for very
often he will find that his is the only reliable evidence on which depends
the liberty or life of a fellow-being. He has, therefore, to acquire the habit
of making a careful note of all the facts observed by him, and to learn to
"draw conclusions correctly and logically after considering in detail the pros
and cons of the case, instead of forming hasty judgments.

It is very essential that a medical jurist must have a fair knowledge of
all the branches of medical and ancillary sciences taught to a medical student
in the course of his studies, inasmuch as he is often required to invoke the
aid of these subjects in the elucidation of various problems of medico-legal
interest in the courts of law. He must also be well acquainted with the
Government orders, statutes and acts affecting his privileges and obligations
in medical practice, and some of the sections of Indian Evidence Act, Criminal
Procedure Code and Indian Penal Code relating to the various offences, in
the investigation of which his assistance is generally requisitioned.

It has been repeatedly remarked by judges that members of the medical
profession are not very careful in drawing up medico-legal reports and conse-
quently cut a very poor figure as expert witnesses, but the experience of
medico-legal work in India leads one to believe that this carelessness com-
plained of by the judges is not due to any wilful negligence on the part of
medical witnesses but to want of sufficient data supplied by the Police, and
also to their want of practical knowledge of legal procedure in criminal courts.
owing to lack of opportunities afforded to medical students to be present 'in
• courts, when any cases of medico-legal interest are being tried. Again,
in Medical Colleges, great stress is laid on the theoretical teaching of
this subject, but its practical side is altogether neglected. Medical Juris-
prudence is a practical subject, and the class lectures should be illustrated
with practical examples, as far as possible, while the students ought to get