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462                                               MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

it reacts  "with, other  oxidizing  substances,   such  as   chlorates,   chromates,
permanganates, etc.

5. If caustic potash or ammonia is added to a nitric acid stain on cloth
the yellow colour changes to orange. The colour disappears, if caused by
iodine, but no change occurs on a stain caused by bile.

Medico-Legal Points.—Nitric acid is largely employed in the arts and
manufactures. It is used for cleansing nickel ornaments and separating gold
from other metals. It is also used in the preparation of gun cotton, nitro-
glycerin, picric acid, sulphuric acid and colouring matters.

Cases of poisoning by this acid are not very common. The cases that
have been recorded are chiefly suicidal or accidental. The Punjab Chemical
Examiner9 reports a case in which a young student in one of the Lahore
Colleges finding that he had failed in one of the subjects shut himself in his
room, and committed suicide by taking nitric acid. In his annual report for
the year 1952, the Chemical Examiner, West Bengal, reports the case of a
man, aged 30 years, who tried to commit suicide by taking nitric acid, but
being unable to bear the pain he jumped into the Hooghly river to end his
life. A remarkable accidental case occurred, in which a woman, while try-
ing to pour strong nitric acid from a bottle into the cavity of a carious tooth,
swallowed some of it, and died from its effects.10 A few homicidal cases
have occurred, the victims being either infants and children, or drunken,
helpless adults. The acid has also been used as an abortifacient. Strong
nitric acid has occasionally been thrown in the face to destroy or disfigure
the features.

Cases.—1. On the 3rd July 1923, Mr. Monmath Basu, a medical practitioner, attached
to Messrs. Mackintosh Burn Company's brick-field at Jogernathnagore Akra, was play-
ing cards, with some friends in a house close to his dispensary when he was disturbed
and startled by some shouts of " thief, thief", and forthwith ran to his quarters. On a
search being made, one Askhoy Kumar Nascar was found standing at a place close to
the outerside compound wall. The doctor took him to be a thief, dragged him into the
dispensary, placed him upon a chair and emptied a bottle of strong nitric acid over
his head. Then the contents of a second bottle of the acid were similarly poured on his
back and other parts of his body. The poor man fell down groaning* in agony, and was
removed on an improvised stretcher to a remote part of the brick-field. Unable to bear
his great agony the man cut his own throat with a fish knife. The next morning some
neighbours removed him to the Alippre Police Hospital, where he succumbed to his
injuries. The accused was found guilty under sec. 304, I.P.C., and sentenced to one
year's rigorous imprisonment.—Leader, Oct. 15, 1923,

' 2. At about 6 aon. on July 21, 1932, Baijnath, the complainant was proceeding along
Beni Bandh when the two accused, Haridas and Ramprasad, assaulted him with lathis.
Baijnath fell down and accused Ramprasad sat upon his chest, while Haridas took a
phial from his pocket and poured out the contents, presumably nitric acid, into Bai|-
nath's right eye, and when an attempt was made to pour the same into the left eye as
well, they fell on the eyebrows instead. The result was the permanent loss of the vision of
the right eye. They were found guilty under section 326, I.P.C., and were each sentenced
to rigorous imprisonment for two years including solitary confinement for one month.
They were further ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 200 each, in default of which each should
undergo a further term of six months' imprisonment. Out of the fine, if realized, Rs. 300
were ordered to be paid to Baijnath.—Leader, Oct. 5, 1932, p. 6.


Properties.—Pure hydrochloric acid is a colourless gas, having a specific
gravity of 1,259 and an intensely irrita^ing^odour^ It is extremely soluble
in water, one volume of this liquid disso!^Hng485"voliimes of the gas at §°C.
(32°F,). The acid of commerce, which is generally known, as muri^ttci acid
or spirits of salts, is a solution of this g'as in water, having a yello^r:{@$j$iF
fuming strongly in damp air, and yielding dense white

9.   Annual Report, 1928, p. 9,
10.   Brit. Med. Jour., Vol. I, 1882, p. 235.