Skip to main content

Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

38                                                MEDICAL  JURISPRUDENCE

as arcus senilis has been seen as early as twenty-eight and wrinkles may not
appear until a very late age, as they depend more or less on the nutrition
of the body.

A horoscope may form a very important piece of evidence in deciding
the question of age, but everyone knows how easy it is to produce a fictitious
one. Birth registers maintained in Municipalities may be of much assistance
in determining the age of a particular individual, as the names of children
are now given in the registers. Entries in school registers and matriculation
certificates regarding age can now be generally depended upon as the parents
ordinarily give correct information about the age of their child when
admitted into school.

In rural areas the registration of births is maintained usually in police-
stations, but too much reliance cannot be placed, as one cannot be sure of
the accurate statement of an illiterate chowkidar who obtains the informa-
tion of a birth from an ignorant Dai.

Medico-Legal Aspect of Age.—The following are the cases in which a
medical man is called upon to give his opinion as regards age : —

1.    Criminal responsibility.

2.    Marriage contract.

3.    Kidnapping.

4.    Rape.

5.    Attainment of Majority.

6.    Competency as a Witness.

7.    Eligibility for employment.

8.    Judicial Punishment.

9.    Infanticide.

10.   Criminal abortion.

1. Criminal Responsibility.—A child under the age of seven years is
presumed by Indian law to be incapable of committing an offence, and
cannot therefore be convicted of crime,26 but this presumption is only
confined to the offences prescribed under the Penal Code of India and does
not extend to local or special Acts. For instance, a child even under seven
years of age is liable to punishment under section 130 of the Indian Railways
Act, 1890 (Act IX of 1890), if it does anything maliciously to wreck or
attempt to wreck a train, to hurt or attempt to hurt persons travelling by
railway or to endanger the safety of persons travelling by railway by wilful
act or by omission or by way of rash or negligent act or omission (vide
Appendix IV).

In a case 27 where one Inderjit, a lad of about six years of age, was sent up to the
Sessions at Budaun for trial on a charge of pelting stones at the engine of the 10 down
mixed train under sections 127-130 of the Indian Railways Act, the learned District Judge
held the accused guilty of pelting stones at the engine. But taking the lad's tender age
into consideration, the Judge ordered him to be let off with admonition on his father's
executing a bond in a sum of Rs. 100 binding himself in such penalty to prevent the
minor accused from being again guilty of any of the acts referred to in sections 127
and 130 of the Railways Act.

A child above seven years of age and under twelve in India and more
than eight and under fourteen years of age in England is presumed to be
capable of committing an offence, if he has attained " sufficient maturity of
understanding to judge of the nature and consequences of his conduct on
that occasion" (section 83, I.P.C., vide Appendix IV). In this connection
it may be noted that according to Indian law the maturity of understanding
the nature and consequences of his conduct at the time of committing an
offence is to be presumed in a child between seven and twelve years of age

26.   Appendix IV, Section 82, Indian Penal Code.

27.   Leader, May 28, 1933.